Twists, turns as Atiku, Wike play hide-and-seek

Hope rises as gov reassures PDP of support

Denies asking court to disqualify ex-VP
Reconciliation not 100m dash, but marathon – NPS
Don’t destroy bridge after crossing river, Dele Momodu advises Rivers helmsman

By Tunde Joshua

Frantic moves for reconciliation to save the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the the 2023 electoral fortunes of its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, are taking twists and turns he continues his cat-and-mouse game with Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike.

Just when it seemed all over given some alleged hostile remarks and actions by both camps, it has emerged that the peace process may have been yielding results as gladiators in the protracted crisis are fastly closing ranks.

This is coming barely a week after both the presidential candidate of the party and governor met in Abuja,

Wike on Friday openly announced that he will throw his full weight behind Atiku.

This is contrary to insinuations that the governor is planning to subvert efforts of PDP at winning the 2023 presidency and that he instituted a legal action against Atiku’s candidacy.

Wike on Friday in Port- Harcourt said he will fully support Atiku’s campaign as he remain a committed party member.

The governor also denied taking legal action against the party and the candidate or removing its flag from his office . He was said to have sought Atiku’s removal as presidential candidate of PDP.

.Wike was quoted to have said “I don’t know anything about the so-called suit. I did not ask anyone to file any suit for me.

“I don’t know the lawyers. Am I a kid to be filing a suit at this time. I had 14 days after the primary within which to have filed any suit. I didn’t do that then, is it two months after primary I will file a suit?

“Just yesterday they came up with the claim that I ordered my Chief Security Officer to pull down PDP flag in Government House. This is all false, it’s all propaganda. Some people are trying to use me to win the election. Please disregard all these lies.”

In the purported suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/782/2022, Wike was said to have listed Atiku, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal and the PDP as defendants, questioning the conduct of the party’s presidential primary , held on May 28 and May 29, 2022, in Abuja
A member of the party, Newgent Ekamon, was said to have joined Wike as co-plaintiff in the suit in which the PDP is listed as the first respondent; the Independent National Electoral Commission as 2nd respondent. Tambuwal and Atiku are listed as the 3rd and 4th respondents respectively.

It was alleged that Wike and his co-applicant, had in the originating summons asked the court to determine eight issues including whether the purported transfer of Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku by the PDP was illegal and void.

The court was asked to determine if Tambuwal lost his claim to votes the moment he stepped down for Atiku; to determine whether Tambuwal “having stepped down during the primaries ought to lose his votes.”

The plaintiffs were said to have demanded from the court, nine reliefs including a declaration that the purported transfer of Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku be declared null and void.

They are seeking a declaration that the PDP acted negligently and in bad faith by assigning the Sokoto governor’s votes to Atiku at the primary.

They prayed the court to “cancel the transfer of votes and a corresponding order restraining the 3rd respondent (Tambuwal’s) withdrawal in the primary was done after voting had commenced.”

The plaintiffs also allegedly prayed the court to declare that the PDP and Atiku took undue advantage of Tambuwal’s withdrawal when they allowed the Sokoto governor to persuade delegates to vote for the former Vice-President in the primary.

They, therefore, prayed the court to order the PDP to recount the votes of the primary that was held on May 28 and May 29.

The plaintiffs was said to recalled that during the PDP presidential primary, when aspirants were addressing delegates, Tambuwal had asked them to vote for him only to return moments later to ask them to vote for Atiku.

At the primary, Atiku polled 371 votes while Wike and Bukola Saraki garnered 237 and 70 votes respectively.

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It was based on this allegations that a presidential aspirant of the party who was on the ballot at the presidential primary, Chief Dele Momodu was said
to have pleaded mostly with Wike to be mindful of the fact that such step as suing the party can destroy PDP.

Momodu admonished the Rivers governor to control his anger and be accommodating in a party where there are divergent views.

The international publisher likened the party to a bridge which Wike has crossed to political limelight which must not be destroyed because PDP is a veritable platform on which notable Nigerians want to stand upon to transform the country.

He told Wike “even if you no longer need the bridge, what of your friends and family? I pray you kill this excessive and perpetual anger. It is getting out of hand.

Momodu advised Wike to “kill” his “excessive anger” against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Momodu, in a letter personally signed on Thursday, said Governor Wike should channel his anger properly rather than use it to destroy the PDP – the party he claims to love.

He said the Rivers State Governor should give his thoughts a rethink “before it is too late”.

Meanwhile, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, said despite these, the reconciliation process in the party is ongoing and nothing can detail it.

Even with the step already taken by Wike, the NPS dismissed speculations that Rivers State governor, was planning to leave PDP.

He said, “Wike Is an important member of this party, he is a man who has invested so much in this party, he has also harvested so much from the party, the party has also promoted him.

“He has said in so many fora that he is a committed party man and has remained loyal to the party since inception.

“Before the presidential primaries which he contested, he told the whole world that he was ready to respect the outcome of the elections. I have no evidence that he has changed his mind.”

Ologunagba said unity of the party is paramount at this precarious moment with just a few weeks to commencement of the presidential campaign.

“Right now, we need to recognize the need for the party to remain united. We have a system, a robust conflict resolution mechanism, we are getting to our destination which is peace in the party and the resolution of our security challenges nationwide.”

“Reconciliation is not not a 100 meters dash, it is a marathon. Nigerians have a right to expect quick fixes because they have been pillaged over the last 7 years.

“I know for a fact that there are behind the scene discussions which details cannot be put on the pages of newspaper.

“Slowly we are getting there, we need to get away from the current state of affairs as a nation.”

“We don’t want to go into the election with a constitutional crisis, we have barely six months to the election.

“Elections are coming and we don’t need a distraction. You can’t destroy the whole for a part, we respect people’s rights and positions but going into negotiations, you cannot say it is either this or nothing.

“It means you’re not ready to negotiate, we don’t have that in our party, we are all interested in the survival of our party and our nation Nigeria. We will look at the need to do balancing,” he said.

Alluding to the fact that the unity of the party is not negotiable, Minority Leader, House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu said those calling for dissolution of the National Working Committee NWC or resignation of the chairman, Iyorchia Ayu do not mean well for PDP.

Speaking at an event to commemorate the year 2022 Internation Youth Day by the PDP Youth Wing in Abuja on Friday, Elumelu said members should be thinking thinking about joining hands with the leadership of the party to rescue Nigeria.

“We have implicit confidence in the leadership of our pari led by Dr. Senator Iyorchia Ayu. We are part of him, we are with him”.

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