There are strong indications that the five aggrieved Peoples’ Democratic Party governors may endorse their preferred presidential candidate on January 5, barring unforeseen circumstances.

the punch It met on Tuesday that the governors, who are currently meeting in London, UK, could be influenced by former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s advice that the Presidency should travel to the south-east in 2023.

Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Samuel Ortom (Benue) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu states and some southern political heavyweights parted ways with the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, plus his alleged refusal to convince the PDP national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, to resign after Atiku, a northerner, clinched the party’s presidential ticket.

The governors insisted that Ayu’s resignation would ensure a balance in the leadership of the main opposition party.

Although Atiku and the governors held several meetings in Nigeria and the UK, there was no progress as they insisted on Ayu’s removal from office as a precondition for peace.

However, when deciding which presidential candidate to support, a senior source told The PUNCH that governors may heed Obasanjo’s advice that they should endorse Labor Party presidential flag-bearer Peter Obi.

The former president had met the governors in London in August, where he reportedly lobbied for Obi.

Providing information about the factors that could influence his decision, an aide to one of the governors stated: “The governors are considering Obasanjo’s advice that the Presidency should come to the South in 2023. Obasanjo has advised them to support Obi. because he believes that if the Presidency comes to the South, it must go to the Southeast.

“That’s why at your last meeting in London, you pushed for Obi because justice and fairness demand that the South-East produce the next president.”

Asked when the governors, known as the Integrity Group, would announce their preferred candidate, the source said: “By all indications, the governors will announce their preferred candidate next week. If there is no major event before January 5, when Makinde starts his campaign, they will make the announcement on that day in Ibadan.”

An aide to another governor dismissed reports that the group was divided over the choice of which presidential candidate to endorse.

According to the source, at the London meeting on Tuesday, the governors agreed that since Atiku failed to get Ayu to resign, they should work for a southern candidate.

without division

Speaking about the alleged cracks in the governors’ rank, the source stated: “Not really, but they have different approaches on the issue. Some of them have nothing against Atiku. But none of the governors will come out to speak out against the group’s joint decision that the presidency come to the South. If Ayu had resigned, they would have supported Atiku.”

But other sources insist that the Integrity Group unity may be hanging by a thread, as there appears to be a crack in the fold.

It was learned that the dispute involves who to support between Obi and the standard-bearer of the Congress of All Progressives, Bola Tinubu.

Wike had said in various forums that no one can break the ranks of the G5, adding that attempts to do so by his detractors had collapsed.

It was learned that the ambitions of Ortom, who is running for the Senate, and Makinde, who is seeking a second term in office, may be at stake as a result of their clash with Ayu.

In addition to this, the Benue State Governor made no secret of his love and preference for the former Anambra State Governor, whom he said could liberate Nigeria.

Following the governors’ moves to get rid of Atiku, party leaders said they were free to do so.

The party’s national undersecretary for publicity, Ibrahim Abdullahi, said going to the polls might not rule out a divided house, saying: “We go to the polls like this. However, we cannot exhaust all the options.

NWC member

In his reaction, however, the PDP’s deputy national youth leader Timothy Osadolor said the Wike-led group lacked the pedigree to question Atiku’s allegiance to the party.

He said: “That the G-5 supposedly led by Wike is talking about trust and loyalty is laughable and painful to the ears of discerning Nigerians. If someone is going to talk about trust, that person shouldn’t even stand near Governor Wike to do it, for him or her to be taken seriously.

“We know Wike and Wike knows himself. It should tell us what happened between him and everyone who helped him in the past, from Peter Odili, who in his generosity of heart still tolerated him, to Rotimi Amaechi, another former governor. Wike coming out to say that he will announce his candidate to the Nigerians and campaigning for the candidate is akin to the last kick of a dying horse”.

Osadolor also asked Ayu to speak, noting that “another lie told by Wike was that Atiku Abubakar promised to ask Ayu to resign. How possible is that?

“Go and listen to the speech the president gave about resigning. He said: ‘I am a democrat and a party man. If a candidate from the North emerges as a presidential candidate and my party asks me to resign, in the interest of the party, I will do so.’

“He did not say if a failed applicant asked him, nor did he say if Wike asked him. Instead of asking him to resign, the National Executive Committee passed a vote of confidence in Dr. Iyorchia Ayu and the National Labor Committee that he leads. How else do you want the party to say go on?

“We empathize with Governor Wike. He already saw himself in Aso Rock as president as Nigerians are determined to bring the PDP back to the presidency to help save what remains of the fabric of this nation,” he added.

George warns Atiku

Meanwhile, a member of the Integrity Group and former chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Bode George, has wished Atiku good luck if, in his opinion, he believes he has what it takes to win without the support of the five governors.

In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, George said: “If Atiku thinks he can win without us, good luck to him. His assistants who speak for him know nothing about the foundations on which the party is built.

“We have stated our position, but if Atiku thinks he knows more than we do, that’s fine with him. We will make our position clear and we will work for what we believe. Atiku can’t threaten us because for someone like me, I’m not looking for anything from him. What do I need now… a job or a date? I am already retired.

“We’re not saying he can’t win without us, but we wish him all the best. If he says we’d be retired politically if he goes ahead to win without us, that’s fine. I’m going home.”

While noting that the presidential candidate has left the Southwest with nothing to bargain with; the retired naval officer said it would be difficult to persuade the Yoruba people to pitch their tent with the PDP with Ayu still in charge as party chairman.

But the Atiku-Okowa presidential campaign organization insists that the PDP presidential candidate will win the 2023 presidential election on the first ballot.

The campaign said that with Atiku’s massive support among Nigerians, a positive outcome of the presidential election would surprise pollsters.

The campaign council, which revealed this in a statement from its spokesman, Kola Ologbodiyan on Tuesday, added that Atiku enjoyed “the camaraderie and support of the vast majority of Nigerians who are not confined to the indices on which they are based.” many of the pollsters in their forecasts. on the 2023 presidential elections.

Ologbondiyan revealed that “it is indisputable that Atiku will win the majority of the legal votes in the whole country and obtain the constitutionally required 25 percent of the votes in more than 24 states of the federation.

“It is evident that the massive traditional voters of the PDP in the voting units, the districts, the local governments, the states and the six geopolitical zones are not distracted in their determination to rescue Nigeria from the misrule of the All Progressive Congress by voting at mass for Atiku.”

In a related development, PDP Presidential Campaign Organization Director General Aminu Tambuwal on Tuesday tasked Nigerian voters to use their permanent voter cards to drive the APC from power in the 2023 general election.

Tambuwal, who is governor of Sokoto state, pointed out that the APC had plunged Nigeria into numerous unresolved problems and insisted on the need for the electorate to vote and ensure the victory of the PDP presidential candidate and his running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa. . on February 25.

The PCO DG, represented by former PDP National Vice President (Southwest), Dr. Eddy Olafeso, spoke in Ado Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti State, during the inauguration of the PDP Presidential Campaign Committee and Campaign Management Committee .

He condemned APC leadership styles and urged PDP members to “work for peace to defeat the monster called APC and its beneficiaries in the country.”

Ekiti PDP

Acting Chairman Ekiti PDP PCC Chief Ogundipe Makanjuola said: “What is required is absolute commitment to winning the presidential election in the next two months so that the PDP can renew Nigeria’s battered economy.”

Acting Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Adolphus Wabara, advised Ndigbo not to be in a rush for the 2023 presidential bid, as the party’s presidential candidate “will hand them over after his term in 2031, if he wins.”

Wabara, speaking in Umuahia at the inauguration of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Council on Tuesday, argued: “There is no way Ndigbo can get the president. Ndigbo got 95 votes and only 14 went to the Igbo challenger, Anyim Pius Anyim.

He said the presidential candidate has promised to hand over the job to an Igbo man.

“We shouldn’t be in a hurry, but he will. Now let’s start looking for the black goat now that it’s daylight. Our overall leader is a man of God who will not victimize us.”

He called for support for Atiku and urged all PDP candidates to live by the party’s mantra and show that “Abia is the PDP and the PDP is Abia”.

With 18 presidential candidates, he said Nigeria is not a one-party state, adding: “So everyone should vote according to their conscience and according to the party. PDP is the oldest party in Nigeria; if you look at our background, you will understand what is happening in the match”.

Addressing members of the campaign council, the Coordinator of the South East Council and Senator representing Abia Central in the National Assembly, Theodore Orji bragged that Abia had been and will remain a PDP state.

“We have a presidential candidate, Atiku, and our brother, the vice-presidential candidate and incumbent governor of Delta State, Okowa. The party removed our candidate and it is our duty to support him,” he admonished.”

The council’s state coordinator in Abia, Chief Charles Ogbonna, advised members to be true party men, adding: “I’ve seen the writing on the wall that says Atiku is going to win.”

Others who spoke called for synergy to deliver the Atiku-Okowa team.