In a bid to ensure that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) emerges through a consensus arrangement, the governors elected on the platform of the party have undertaken two European tours in quick succession.
According to a report by THISDAY, it was gathered that the governors held strategic meetings in Spain and United Kingdom as part of their ongoing efforts to ensure that the issue of the presidential candidate of the party does not polarise its members along regional lines.
The investigation has also revealed that the governors were also billed to meet Sunday night in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, after a reception to be held in honour of the new Chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has said that Ayu’s utterances during his inauguration have shown that the sole intent of the opposition party is to grab power by any means in 2023.
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The first European tour by the PDP governors, it was learnt, was a visit to London moments after the October 30 and 31 national conventions while the second visit was a visit to Spain last week.
The first visit to London was said to have been undertaken by the governors of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike; Mr. Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), and Mr. Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom).
Among the governors on the second trip to Spain were: Wike; Makinde; Ikpeazu; Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa); and Dr. Samuel Ortom (Benue).
It was also gathered that the governors of Bauchi State, Senator Bala Mohammed, and Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambawul did not attend the meetings due to their ongoing consultations on their presidential aspirations.
A source privy to the strategic meetings said Governor Ortom is the architect of a consensus presidential candidate for the PDP and would host the meeting in Makurdi tonight.
According to the source, the PDP governors while in London met a former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
He further disclosed that it was from London that Saraki arrived in Lagos last week to receive the Lagos APC members, who defected to the opposition party.
“PDP governors from the South agreed at the London meeting that they must play a significant role in the choice of who will fly the party’s presidential ticket,” he said.
He further disclosed that because of Wike’s relationship with Real Madrid Football Club, he travelled, in addition with other governors, with the Adamawa State governor, Fintiri who did not make the earlier London trip.
Real Madrid has a football academy in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The governors posed for photographs at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, which went viral.
“At their Real Madrid meeting, the governors reiterated the need for a consensus presidential candidate to avoid the rancour that could emanate as a fall-out to an elective convention.
“But the PDP governors have not agreed on any choice of a consensus candidate, whether from South or North,” the source added.
It was gathered that the Governor of Sokoto State, Tambuwal, and his Bauchi State counterpart, Mohammed was yet to buy into the idea of a consensus candidate.
The source, who was at the London and Real Madrid meetings, said Oyo State governor, Makinde, has also not bought into the idea of a consensus candidate.
Tambawul, it was gathered, said that he was still consulting on his presidential ambition and would soon come up with his decision.
At the swearing-in ceremony of the new members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP on Friday in Abuja, the campaign posters of both Tambuwal and Mohammed were struggling for the limited space at the International Conference Centre, the venue of the inauguration ceremony.
As part of the efforts to smoothen some rough edges on the consensus presidential candidate, the PDP governors will again meet in Makurdi after the reception for the new national chairman, Ayu.
Meanwhile, a former Director-General of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Osaro Onaiwu, has called on all PDP 2023 presidential aspirants to rein in on their aides and their supporters ahead of the 2023 presidential primary election of the party.
The founding DG of the PDP Governors’ Forum harped on the need for a common front from across the various presidential camps of the party.
“Forming a common front as we approach the 2023 presidential poll, even though from the various camps is essential in ensuring we go into the presidential election which is the ultimate for the party, as one house.
“To this extent, I call on presidential aspirants of our great party, Peoples Democratic Party, to please ensure they show leadership by calling their followers and their aides to order, ahead of their campaigns. As consultations and campaigns commence in earnest, I urge the presidential aspirants to do so with the spirit of sportsmanship, which is the hallmark of every democracy.
“As a party seeking to take power at the centre and across all of the country, we can begin to show leadership now ahead of 2023, with the way we conduct ourselves ahead of the primaries. Every presidential aspirant of PDP is a leader and a potential president, only that we can have only one presidential candidate for the 2023 polls,” Onaiwu said.
National officers who served as deputies in the immediate past National Working Committee of the PDP had warned the Ayu, to be wary of powerful forces in the party.
They warned that the strong party leaders who saw to his emergence could also remove him from office.