Saraki’s committee in fresh move to save PDP at instance of Senate caucus
Tunde Joshua, Abuja
- Don’t misrepresent Atiku’s Arise TV interview – Adeniji
- I’ll speak soon on ex-VP, says Wike
The National Reconciliation Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under immediate past Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has been charged to save the opposition political group from the festering post- presidential primary crisis between its candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the first runner-up, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
Saraki, also one of the aspirants who lost to Atiku at the May 28 special national convention of the PDP held in Abuja is being called upon to salvage the party from imminent irreconcilable division, two months before commencement of presidential campaign ahead of the 2023 election.
The Trumpet authoritatively gathered that the fresh drafting of the Reconciliation committee to wade into the lingering crisis between the two party icons was at the instance of the PDP Senate Caucus led by the new Minority Leader, Senator Philip Aduda.
Resolution of the bad blood created between Atiku and Wike after the primary election, topped the agenda at last Wednesday meeting of the Caucus in Abuja.
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Concerned that the fallout between the two leaders has already polarized organs of the party, the caucus felt it imperative to draft the Saraki’s committee to save PDP from total disintegration.
A source hinted that Aduda at the meeting said “our party cannot afford to go into the 2023 election divided. Something has to be done and it has to be done fast. At this point in time we need the effort of the National Reconciliation Committee under our leader, former Senate President, His Excellency, Dr. Bukola Saraki to reconcile the two prominent members and their supporters.”
The Caucus expressed confidence in the Committee, judging by efforts in recent past at reconciling factions in state chapters of PDP. The latest effort was the role played by the Committee in pacifying the former National Secretary of PDP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola to join hands with the party in Osun State ahead of the July 16 governorship election. The effort resulted in the victory of the PDP and its candidate, Ademola Adeleke at the poll.
A staunch member of the party in Oyo State, Hon. Tunde Suara categorically charged the National Working Committee led by the National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu to rise up to its leadership role by taking decisive action to end the crisis.
He told our correspondent that “delay is dangerous. The silence of the NWC on the Atiku/ Wike crisis is no more golden.”.
The lawmaker who represented Ibadan North Federal Constituency in the 7th House of Representatives said that reconciliation should start from within the party leadership.
Suara said “except we are deceiving ourselves, this issue is gradually affecting the rank and file of our party with members of the NWC takind sides. There is the need for the NWC to purge itself by closing gaps already created by the Atiku/ Wike misunderstanding.
“We have about two months to start nationwide campaign and we cannot start on the note of crisis. We need the participation of everyone in the party. I think Dr. Ayu and his team need to do more in settling this crisis”.
The Trumpet recalled that the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom had advised the former vice-president to personally visit Wike and placate him.
Ortom, an ally of the Rivers State governor has not minced words in saying that Atiku was not fair to Wike by nominating the Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa as his presidential running mate.
Atiku had in his response to the controversy over the choice of his running mate on Arise Television interview on Friday, said he chose who he believed he can work with and who could deliver among the candidates presented to him by the party.
“I didn’t reject Wike, I picked who can deliver. Going by history, I had picked an Igbo as running mate in 2007, in 2019. I still picked an Igbo for 2023.
“The committee that presented them was chaired the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom. They recommended three people, so I picked one. People should be fair to me and state the facts,” said Atiku during the interview.
Defending Atiku, one of the strategists in the Abubakar Atiku Campaign Organisation, Engr. Ezekiel Olajide Adeniji said the presidential candidate should not be misrepresented over his past comments on the fallout of PDP presidential primary and his response on Arise TV.
Engr. Adeniji, a former board chairman of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) under the Goodluck Jonathan administration said Atiku’s response did not in any way despised the person of the Rivers State governor.
“He was just explaining the process that led to his choice of running mate and not trying to run down anybody as being insinuated in some quarters. People do not have to be mischievous.
“Our candidate, His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has displayed that as a party man, the leadership must be involved in the selection process of the vice presidential candidate, hence his consultation with the NWC.
“The process produced three options as he explained and he cannot do more than picking just only one of them. He is the candidate who should know better whom he can work with and he has chosen along that guiding principle. I don’t think he should be crucified for that.?
Asked on why Atiku has been dragging foot in meeting Wine to iron out issues, he denied deliberate delay by Atiku.
Adeniji said “Efforts are going on underneath for a meeting between the two party chieftains. Different personal schedules of both of them has been responsible for what people called delay.
“People should note that as a former vice president of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is not a minor in politics. He known the consequence of any action taken in politics. He is an humble politician who will never ignore anyone, not to talk of someone like Governor Wike.
“I can tell you that it is people that cried more than the bereaved who are insinuating crisis where there is none. The two party leaders will meet and very soon I can assure you”.
However, one of the immediate past deputy national officers of the PDP has blamed the present leadership of the party under Ayu of complicity in the crisis.
He said the Ayu led NWC is hamstrung in resolving the feud because “they are part of the crisis”.
The stakeholder who spoke on condition of anonymity said “I won’t want to be mentioned in print because I won’t want my intervention to be misrepresented as position of the immediate past leadership of the PDP.
“I can boldly tell you that right from the onset, the national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu knew whom they want as presidential candidate. The primary election was well orchestrated with that symbolic stepping down of Governor Tambuwal but the aftermath was not well managed by the leadership.
“As we speak now, almost every organ of the party is divide with members either for Wike or Atiku. And I think this is not healthy for a party desirous of winning elections in 2023.
“The National Assembly caucus of PDP particularly the House of Representatives is divided. Members loyal to Ndudi Elumelu are pro- Atiku while those who align with Kingsley Chinda are not doubt for Wike. This is an extension of the minority leadership tussle in the House of Representatives in Wike’s frantic efforts to install Chinda was frustrated.
“Among our governors, there is a division along the two lines. A clique led by Benue State governor, Ortom with governors of Oyo, Abia and Enugu are for Wike while the majority led by the chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum and governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal are for Atiku. If you notice, the Governors’ Forum has been unable to meet for once as a body after the presidential primary.
“Even, the eldership cadre of the stakeholders, the Board of Trustees (BoT) has been paying lip service to intervening in the crisis. Everyone knows the disposition of the BoT chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin to Atiku. He has said it several times that the BoT will meet with Wike but a step towards that has not been taken”
He suggested that there should be internal cleansing among the party organs, should there be meaningful reconciliatory efforts to bring the two camps together.
The party chieftain said “we can’t afford to lose Wike and his influence before the 2023 election.”
Meanwhile, the Rivers State governor has vowed to break his silence by speaking on the issue very soon.
Wike on Saturday, in a statement by his Special Assistant Media, Kelvin Ebiri, said it has become pertinent for him to speak and reveal to Nigerians all that has transpired in the PDP since the emergence of former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the party.
“On Atiku, I will speak soon and Nigerians will know the actual truth of all that has transpired in the PDP in recent times,” the was quoted to have said.