The five aggrieved Peoples Democratic Party governors have demanded the support of All Progressives Congress presidential candidate Bola Tinubu for the PDP governorship and Senate candidates in their respective states, the punch has learned
It emerged on Thursday that this was part of the conditions presented to Tinubu during his meeting with PDP governors in London, UK, on Tuesday.
The meeting was attended by Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Samuel Ortom (Benue) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu States.
The governors, along with Donald Duke, Jonah Jang, Olusegun Mimiko, former governors of Cross River, Ondo and Plateau states respectively, as well as a member of the Board of Trustees, Chief Bode George, are defiant in their call to remove Iyorchia Ayu as the party’s national chairman.
A reliable source revealed that the five governors were concerned about their political careers and sought reassurance from Tinubu.
Although Wike is not running for any seats in the 2023 election, he was said to be concerned about his protégé, Siminalayi Fubara, who is the Rivers State PDP gubernatorial candidate and the state’s PDP senatorial candidates.
On the other hand, Makinde is running for a second term, while Ortom will compete as the candidate for the north-west senatorial district of Benue in the polls.
In addition, Ikpeazu is the PDP candidate for Abia’s southern senatorial district and Ugwuanyi is running for Enugu’s northern senatorial district.
However, there are differing versions of the final decisions by both the governors and Tinubu on the lawsuit.
A source close to Tinubu told The PUNCH that a final deal could not be reached as a result of the governors’ “complex demands.”
According to him, PDP governors made an offer to Tinubu to guarantee both the senatorial and gubernatorial seats in their states, a demand the former Lagos state governor was unable to immediately fulfill as he needed to consult with his advisers and loyalists.
The APC chief confided to our correspondent that Tinubu may not be willing to give in to the lawsuit with less than two months to go until the 2023 election.
He said: “The G-5 governors don’t hold the four aces. As it is, they are actually seeking shelter. The biggest problem we have is that all the members of the G-5 demanded the governorship and the senatorial seats in exchange for the big prize.
“Now the question is, how are they going to throw our people in Rivers, Plateau and Benue under the bus? I am worried about Benue, where we have fruits close at hand. Of course, it is obvious that we are ready to win Benue with the Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia, who we are sure will sweep the polls for governor.
“There is also APC (Teslim) gubernatorial candidate Folarin, who is prominent in Oyo. These are complex situations that we are still dealing with and I can tell you that is where we are. The PDP governors are astute people who are very good at politics.”
The source also noted that there was increasing pressure on the APC presidential candidate to expose the Integrity Group’s deceit in not awarding them any position.
With the exception of Rivers, the party chief said Benue and Oyo were projected to fall because of the volume of mobilization campaigns that had taken place in the two states.
“Whether Makinde likes it or not, Oyo will fall. Abia has never been our soil. We also lost in Enugu and Benue in 2019, where we failed to get 25 per cent. Yet we still won the presidency.
“I can tell you that without Ortom, we have a very good chance of winning Benue in 2023 with Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia. But we know that Rivers State is where we are very vulnerable and we may need Wike to push us. These are the five states that we lost but won the 2019 presidential election.
“However, the truth is that Asiwaju knows that these five states are not the tipping points to win. It’s just to make his win double for sure that we have to pitch shop with them. But as I told you, you are not in a position to stomp, draw the line and impose conditions on Asiwaju. Your support is inevitable because these governors really have nowhere to go,” she said confidently.
Asked if there is a possibility that Tinubu will meet with the group in January before they announce their preferred candidate, the politician revealed that the negotiation was not over.
He said: “It’s an ongoing conversation. The point is that Asiwaju must lead the people (candidates) within those states along with our internal structures. Asiwaju must consider these factors before opting for a Pyrrhic victory. He will speak to other leaders of our party.”
But a source in the PDP governors’ camp confirmed the claim they made to Tinubu. However, he said a decision had been made regarding the governors’ support for the APC champion.
“Agreements have been reached and decisions have been made. The announcement will be made in January. The people will be informed about the decisions that have been made, ”he said.
For his part, the Media director of the Tinubu-Shettima presidential campaign council, Bayo Onanuga, declined to comment on the issue.
Onanuga stated that in addition to knowing that the governors backed his director, he had no idea of his alleged conditions.
I don’t want to speculate on this issue. I don’t know what was talked about. But I know that the G-5 governors are backing Bola Tinubu. I can’t go further than that.
“After all, the governors said they will announce their preferred candidate in January. Why not wait for them? he claimed.
‘Positive government offer’
Furthermore, a presidential aide, Bashir Ahmad, in a tweet on Thursday, stated: “The offer presented by the five governors was fantastically positive. That will definitely help us seal our victory. Let’s do it together”.
Tinubu-Shettima’s presidential campaign council spokesman, Festus Keyamo, also shied away from discussing the G-5’s demands.
Instead, he blamed the PDP leadership for the party’s problems.
Keyamo revealed that he had always known long before that collapsing the zoning process to accommodate PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar would lead to the implosion of the party.
He stated: “The PDP has become a caricature that people now laugh at. We always knew that the PPD would implode even before the primaries. We were waiting for it to happen.
“When it was too obvious to place the presidency in the South, the PPD was too scared to take the bold step. Whereas the same thing could have happened to us if the APC governors of the North had not boldly accepted the challenge and divided the presidency into zones of the South.
“Even when the ruling party was circling the issue, the governors took the bull by the horns and zoned it to save the APC from this kind of implosion that the PPD is having. This is what they should have done. In fact, they met and agreed that the presidency should come south in Asaba, but (Delta State Governor Ifeanyi) Okowa stabbed them in the back.”
Meanwhile, there are indications that the aggrieved PDP governors would arrive in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, on Friday (today) after their meeting with Tinubu in the UK.
PUNCH deduced that they also met with a former vice-president of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who has been detained in London for alleged involvement in an organ harvesting attempt since June.
A close aide to one of the governors dismissed the PDP leadership’s threat to sanction the governors, saying they did nothing wrong to ensure the invocation of the relevant provisions of the party constitution on member discipline.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated: “They will brief the press tomorrow (today) as soon as they arrive in Port Harcourt. Of course, they can talk about their preferred candidate, but their position is that the party can’t sanction them because they haven’t done anything wrong.
”As it stands, they believe they are championing a cause supported by the PDP constitution on justice and equity. So, their argument is that they are on the right track in demanding that after eight years of the Presidency in the North; the South must be supported so that it has a chance”.
In his reaction, the party’s National Publicity Secretary Debo Ologunagba told The PUNCH that the PPD would not take up the issue until the governors talk about their preferred candidate, saying: “Ours is a party of order and rules. Until we get to the bridge, we won’t cross it.”
For his part, the immediate past National Secretary of the party and member of the NEC, Ibrahim Tsauri, said that the party leadership will act at the right time.