There appears to be glimmers of hope on the horizon for the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the two belligerent groups in the party appear to have decided to sheathe their swords and resolve the crisis plaguing it.
The presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, first hinted at a possible resolution of the crisis when he told the Guild of Editors in Lagos that the crisis was a ‘family issue’ and it would be handled as such.
“Talks are going on. It is a family issue and we regard it as such. We will resolve our family issue very soon,” he had said.
Atiku’s running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, confirmed that a discussion was ongoing between the party and the aggrieved five governors and their allies.
Okowa debunked the rumour that the party had resolved to dump the G-5/ Integrity group led by Governor Nyesom Wike and forge ahead.
According to him, the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, had scheduled a meeting with the aggrieved governors to put an end to the contending issues.
The group, comprising five PDP Governors who are at loggerheads with the party’s leadership, penultimate Sunday decided to call itself “The Integrity Group” and said that it is still open to reconciliation.
Announcing the new name, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State said there was a need to rechristen the group in order to accommodate other members who were not state governors.
He said, “As you can see, the eminent politicians and leaders of the PDP that are behind the G5 are here. Most of them are senators, former governors and leaders of our party. So it won’t be appropriate to describe our group as G5, we are the ‘Integrity Group ‘within the PDP”.
The Integrity Group rose from its meeting in Lagos, which had the five state governors, Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State; Samuel Ortom of Benue State and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, alongside other aggrieved PDP chieftains and said they were still open to reconciliation with the leadership of the party.
Speaking on behalf of the group, a former Governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang, said, “We are still standing with the decision reached in our last meeting in Port Harcourt where we declared that we are still open to reconciliation.”
Those present at the meeting, excluding the five governors are Senator Olaka Nwogu; Senator MAO Ohuanbuwa; Hon. N. Ikeje; Senator Nasir Suleiman; Senator Sandy Onor ; Malam B. Adoke; Olusegun Mimiko; Ayo Fayose; Donald Duke; Bode George; Deputy National Chairman (South) of the PDP, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja; National Vice Chairman ( South – South), Chief Dan Orbih; former Governor of Plateau State, Dr Jonah Jang and former PDP gubernatorial aspirant in Osun State, Omoba Dotun Babayemi.
Led by Wike, the five governors are insisting that the National Chairman of the Party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, should resign and be replaced by a southerner since the presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is from the North.
They have also decided to stay away from the PDP presidential campaign until the party meets their demand for Ayu’s resignation. This is not the first time the PDP is facing a crisis ahead of a general election.
In 2014, seven governors of the PDP and some of its leaders, including Atiku Abubakar, walked out of the party’s convention to form a faction called the newPDP. The newPDP later joined the Action Congress of Nigeria, (ACN); the All Nigeria’s Peoples Party (ANPP); a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA) and the Congress for Progressive Changes (CPC) to form the APC.
The then APC presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, later defeated the incumbent President and candidate of the PDP in the 2015 presidential election, Goodluck Jonathan.
The question that is being asked now is whether the Integrity Group will go the way of newPDP and merge with any of the political party to ‘fight’ the PDP in next year’s general election.
A political commentator, Toyin Subair, said the timing is different and that from the look of things, some members of the Integrity Group may be in a dilemma over their political future.
He told THEWILL, “You know the new PDP was formed almost a year before the 2015 general election. This group is coming rather too close to the election, Also most of the members of the Integrity Group are in a dilemma about their political future.
“You know, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State is contesting the March 2023 governorship election on the platform of the PDP. If you remember how he got the first term ticket, you will pity his current position. If by error of omission or commission, the PDP loses the presidential election, the bandwagon effect would weigh heavily on Makinde.
“Of course, Governors Samuel Ortom, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State are contesting the senatorial election on the platform of the PDP. So it is too late to ditch the PDP and join other parties.
“Even Wike is sponsoring the election of a PDP governor and other candidates in Rivers State. So the Integrity Group cannot leave the PDP, which is their dilemma. They are fighting the leadership of the party and prominent members of the group are contesting the election on the platform of the party.”
Also expressing his dilemma on national television recently, a former Governor of Ekiti State and a member of the Integrity Group, Dr Ayodele Fayose, said that despite his closeness to Wike, he had no other presidential candidate than Atiku Abubakar.
Fayose’s son, Joju, is contesting the Ekiti Central Federal Constituency 1, comprising Ado and Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Areas of Ekiti State on the same day that Atiku will contest the presidency.
Fayose said he cannot direct people not to vote for the PDP on February 15 because his son will be contesting in the House of Representatives election on the same day that the presidential election will be held.
He said he would support Atiku in the forthcoming 2023 presidential election.
Meanwhile, the former governor said he would not insult the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, even though they are in different camps ahead of the 2023 general election.
He said, “Let me tell you, if people are expecting me to abuse Tinubu so as to show that I am not supporting him, I would not do that.”
Fayose, an ally of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state, noted that despite the political differences some northern governors or politicians have with President Muhammadu Buhari, they don’t resort to abuses.
He described Tinubu as a Yoruba leader and as such, he said he won’t descend so low to insult the former Lagos State governor, adding that he respects Atiku Abubakar of the PDP the same way as the APC chieftain.
“If the only way to demonstrate to everybody that I am Bola Tinubu’s enemy is to come out as a Yoruba man and insult him, I will never do it,” he said.
“Listen to me, Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu are over 70 years old leaders, why were they sitting together to rub minds and not carrying cutlasses against each other? Count me out of that (insulting Tinubu).”
“I am not going to be insulting Atiku,” Fayose insisted. “I am not going to be insulting Tinubu.”
The PDP chieftain also reiterated his stance on power shifting to the southern region of the country.
“As far as he is concerned, since President Buhari is about to complete his second term and he is from the North, the South should produce Nigeria’s next president.”
Fayose stated that he would work for the PDP, regardless of Wike’s grudge against Atiku.