A meeting between representatives of the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and those from the camp of Governor Nye- som Wike of Rivers State will hold today in Abuja.
The venue for the reconciliation could not be established as of press time, but sources said the governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Fintiri will be leading other PDP leaders, including Honourable Adamu Waziri, Honourable Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), a former governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke and Jide Adeniji from the camp of Atiku.
On the side of Wike are a former minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Bello Adoke; a former minister of information and national orientation, Professor Jerry Gana, Ex-Governor Donald Duke of Cross River; ex-Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State and ex-Governor Ibrahim Dankwanbo, of Gombe State, among others.
The meeting came as five PDP governors led by Wike have jetted out of the country at the weekend to France, ostensibly to fine-tune strategy in the ongoing feud between Atiku and the first runner-up in its party presidential primary.
With him on the trip, whose destination is believed to be Paris, France, are his core supporters in the PDP Governors Forum, Sam Ortom (Benue), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ifeanyi Uguanyi (Enugu) and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia).
All of them have withheld their support for Atiku following the perceived humiliation Wike allegedly suffered in the hands of the former vice-president, who bypassed him to choose his Delta State colleague, Ifeanyi Okowa, despite the recommendation by the committee set up to help the presidential candidate arrive at a suitable running mate.
The Nigerian Tribune gathered that the governors flew out of the country over the weekend to discuss their strategy in a conducive atmosphere following the setting up of a reconciliation committee to explore ways to resolve the nagging differences between Atiku and Wike.
An official of the Benue State government, who spoke to the Nigerian Tribune on Sunday, said the state governor indeed left the country on Friday for France.
“Yes, our governor left for France on Friday, but I don’t know if he travelled with the Rivers State governor. What I know is that he travelled for a short break, and he is expected back in Nigeria tomorrow (Monday),” the official said.
Despite endorsing the committee headed by Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State, Governor Wike has continued to express displeasure at the vibes emanating from the camp of the candidate.
Findings revealed that his anger stemmed from the way Atiku has broken into his camp and poached some of his most loyal supporters, particularly in Rivers State.
Some PDP chieftains in the state, who were seen as the governor’s core loyalists, including a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Okpara and former senator, who represented Rivers East, Lee Maeba, have now aligned with Atiku against their state governor, drawing his ire.
This has added a new twist to the feud with Atiku’s camp, even though remaining confident of a resolution of the differences, is unsure of what the governors might come up with from the meeting in Europe.
“Wike is angry that some of his men came to join Atiku without his permission,” a top party source revealed to the Nigerian Tribune, but assured that the issue is being resolved. It was learnt that notwithstanding his outwards posture, the Rivers governor has made no demands from the presidential candidate, setting anxiety into Atiku’s camp that has been left guessing as to how to placate him.
The governors are expected to return to the country on Monday.
When contacted the spokesman of the Atiku campaign, Dino Melaye, declined to comment on the move, only saying that progress had been made on the reconciliation effort.
He stated: “We are making tremendous progress. There is no cause for alarm. All will be well in a matter of days.”
Also speaking to the Nigerian Tribune, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, assured that every issue about Wike would be resolved soon, denying that the tiff between him and the presidential candidate is responsible for the delay in constituting the presidential campaign organization.
He said: “Reconciliation is not a hundred-meter dash. It’s an ongoing process. We are making progress; we are sure and confident in the progress we are making. And to that extent, every aspect of the levels of the organs of the party involved…I know that at the end of the day and very soon, we will be ready for the campaign.
“What is more important for every member of the party is the fact that the party is buoyed to rebuild a great Nigeria. Every stakeholder, every member of the party has keyed into that objective. “We understand the expectations of the Nigerian people and we are committed to that and we know, at the end of the day, the party, the PDP is united as one family together.”
On the perceived delay in setting up the campaign organisation, the party spokesman denied that the Atiku/Wike feud is responsible, saying: “We are a party that believes in consultation and in doing that, we ensure that every stakeholder is carried along. And so, in constituting that, we ensure that we take that into consideration.
“In any event, every aspect of the council is actually being put together. You recall that the presidential candidate just made some appointments of spokespersons. You don’t do these in one day. It is about going methodical and ensuring that we do things in the right way.”