Friday, September 30, 2022

Atiku’s Interview May Deepen Anger In Wike’s Camp 

Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, may have compounded his sour relationship with Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike after suggesting that he could not work amicably with the governor as running mate.

Asked on Arise Television on Friday why he picked Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa over and above Wike, Atiku had said he chose someone who has “the qualities to be President. The person must have an appreciation of the deep rot which our country has been put into by the rudderless All Progressives Congress government; understands the great suffering that most of our people are going through and the urgency of relieving them of that suffering; understands the critical importance of economic growth and development to provide our young people with jobs, hope, and a pathway to wealth.”

He added: “But you must understand that it’s the prerogative of the candidate to pick his running mate — a running mate he believes he can work with amicably, and then also deliver the policies of the party, and also try to unify the country.”

The Nation gathered yesterday in Port Harcourt that the Atiku statement has sparked fresh anger against the former vice president in Wike’s camp which is already aggrieved by what is perceived as the former vice president’s ill treatment of the governor in overlooking him as PDP’s vice presidential candidate.

Efforts to reconcile the two sides so far have repeatedly hit the rocks with Atiku saying during his Friday interview that he was reaching out to Wike to let bygones be bygones.

However, the much sought reconciliation appears to have been dealt a fresh blow by the Atiku statement.

The Nation gathered that many associates of Wike were shocked by Atiku’s statement which they claimed depicted the governor as someone he could not work with amicably.

They were also miffed that Atiku denied that Wike was the choice of the majority members of the selection committee of the PDP.

A source in the governor’s camp said: “The statements are unbecoming of someone seeking reconciliation and peace. We have been advised to refrain from saying things that can affect the unity of the party and we did.

“But what can one say about Atiku’s outburst? Is this how to pacify someone who is genuinely angered? It is obvious that some people feel that they don’t need some of us in their race to the presidency.”

Sources said a meeting scheduled for this weekend to discuss Atiku’s request for reconciliation with Wike did not take place.

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State was said to be the convener of the meeting.

But our source said: “No meeting took place. I don’t know why it didn’t hold.”

One source said the Benue governor may have also been angered by Atiku’s claim that he lied about the recommendation of the committee he chaired for the nomination of the PDP running mate.

“Last Thursday, the day before Atiku’s interview, Ortom had repeated his claim that Wike won when the issue was put to vote at the committee level.

He said: “Of course, three names were presented. In the order of preference, Wike, Okowa and governor Udom – all of them are qualified.

“But the preference was Wike – 14 members (referring to the committee) out of 17. This is the point we are making. Three of them were qualified but governor Wike was eminently qualified – 14 out of 17 members chose him.

“All these things were said during our meeting. We said that for the PDP to win, we needed Governor Wike.

“Yes, Wike may have his own weak points as others may see it, but to some people, those were his strong points in this life.

“For me, the candidate who won the primary has the final say. He has decided. I have no problem with that.”

But Atiku, in his interview, said there was nothing of such.

“What he said was inaccurate. I can give you a copy that was sent to me; there was no voting there, there was no record of any vote, absolutely not.

“The committee that was set up at my own instance deliberated, but there was no vote and they recommended three names because they knew that it was prerogative to pick any one of the three, so there was actually no vote.

“More so, Ortom himself chaired that committee. He knew that there was a vote taken and I have the report of that committee,” the PDP presidential candidate insisted.

A close ally of Wike and Chairman of Emohua Local Government Area, Dr. Chidi Lloyd as well as the Leader, Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly (SNPA), Livingstone Wechie, yesterday described Atiku’s statement as disappointing.

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