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PDP : Atiku’s men, Wike’s camp square up in Benue, Edo, others

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 PDP Atiku s men Wike s camp square up in Benue Edo others
Atiku Wike 1

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and his supporters have now resolved to neutralize the hold of the Nyesom Wike led G-5 governors on the party in Abia,Benue,Enugu,Oyo and Rivers states ahead of the February elections.

Wike and his colleagues in the four other states –Okezie Ikpeazu,Samuel Ortom,Ifeanyi Ugwuayi and Seyi Makinde- are demanding the resignation of the PDP National Chairman,Dr.Iyorchia Ayu as a condition for their support for Atiku.

The aggrieved governors and their supporters had pulled out of the campaign council of Alhaji Atiku and declared that they would not work for his aspiration unless their demands were met by the candidate and the leadership of the party.

With all efforts to resolve the differences between the two sides hitting the rocks at every turn and the presidential election only 11 weeks away,Atiku and his strategists decided that the best way to handle the G-5 is to secure the support of more PDP chieftains and members in the concerned states with a view to boosting the winning chances of the party in the presidential polls.

READ ALSO :Wike, Ortom dare Buhari to name governors stealing local govts funds

Highly placed party sources told The Nation that Atiku and his strategists have launched an aggressive recruitment drive of party chieftains not only in the five states controlled by the anti-Atiku governors but across the southern states where there are fears that the Atiku/Ayu combination as presidential candidate and party chairman is not in the best interest of the south.

It was gathered that the PDP hierarchy is joining forces with Atiku in this regard.

A source said there is now a conscious move to call the bluff of the aggrieved governors and work for Atiku.

Atiku’s foot soldiers are said to be determined to give Governor Ortom a serious fight for the control of votes in Benue State,which is the home state of Ayu.

Sources said the party would not allow anyone to rubbish Ayu in his home state.

Ayu is understood to be personally leading the push for the control of his state.He is being supported by the immediate past governor of the state,Senator Gabriel Suswam and Senator Abba Moro.
Suswam and Moro, it was gathered, have already won the support of many aggrieved aspirants of the party who lost their bids for PDP tickets in their various constituencies. Other PDP leaders said to be helping Atiku’s cause in the state include Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, Mrs. Margaret Ichen and Hon. Chille Igbawua.

One source said that with the caliber of PDP chieftains that are ready to ignore Ortom’s directives and work for Atiku, it would be difficult for the governor to stop the PDP from winning the state next year.

“Benue is a PDP state with numerous PDP leaders scattered all over the state. Ortom is just one of them,” the source said.
He added: “With the National Chairman and our Senators ready to support Atiku, the party is strongly behind him and he will do well in Benue state next year.”

The source said the outcome of the last primary of the party is working in favour of the PDP presidential candidate.

But supporters of Governor Ortom in the state accused the camp of the presidential candidate of seeking the support of “politicians who cannot win elections” to counter the governor.

One of the governor’s supporters said Benue PDP is solidly behind Ortom and would follow his directives.

“We are not unaware of the move by these people to infiltrate Benue PDP. But I can tell you that our leaders are resolute in their support for Governor Ortom,” the source said.

“Yes, a few politicians who cannot win elections on their own without Ortom’s support are being recruited. But unless the right thing is done, Ortom will triumph over them all.”

In the Southwest, Atiku’s men are said to be targeting Lagos, Oyo and Ekiti states as places where they need to shore up support for the PDP presidential flag-bearer. As part of the new push to undermine the G-5 governors ahead of the election, strategists of the former Vice President have entered into alliances with chieftains like Olajide Adediran, the governorship candidate in Lagos State. Working with Adediran are other prominent leaders of the party like Engr. Adedeji Doherty and Adetokunbo Pearse.

Also said to be working against the directive of party leader, Chief Bode George and supporting Atiku’s presidential aspiration in the state are the state PDP chairman, Mr. Philips Aivoji, former Minister, Dr. Abimbola Ogunkelu, BOT member, Mrs. Aduke Maina, former chairman of the party, Capt. Tunji Shelle, Mr. Wahab Owokoniran, Mr. Segun Adewale (Aeroland) and the State Working Committee of the party, among many other leading party chieftains. George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, belongs to Wike’s camp.

Capt. Shelle ,who is the Deputy Director, PCC Elections Management expressed confidence that Atiku would win the 2023 presidential election in Lagos State because members of the PDP are ready to work for him irrespective of whatever anybody says.

But another source said that supporters of Bode George and his allies across the state may have decided to work for the victory of Labour Party candidates in the state next year.

”Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, the governorship candidate of the Labour Party, and many of the party’s candidates were members of the Bode George group before defecting. So, you should understand why Atiku and Jandor don’t stand any chance in Lagos again,” a source said.

In Ekiti State, it will be a fight to the finish between the two main factions in the PDP. While former governor Ayodele Fayose remains committed to the G-5 governors, the faction led by Senator Abiodun Olujimi is working for Atiku.

Recently, the two factions met for reconciliation but The Nation gathered that upon Fayose’s open endorsement of the G-5 governors, Atiku’s men reached out to Olujimi and her group as a way of ensuring that the PDP presidential candidate does not lose support in the state.

Oyo is another state where Atiku’s men are digging deep in their bid to outsmart Governor Makinde.

The governor , who enjoys the backing of the state executive committee of the party as well as other leading PDP chieftains, led by Taofeek Arapaja, the Deputy National Chairman of the party, is strongly opposed to Atiku’s presidential aspiration and has publicly denounced the PDP presidential candidate while urging the people of the state to vote for him and other PDP candidates in 2023.

But The Nation can confirm that some prominent leaders of the PDP in the state are now working hard for the victory of Atiku in 2023.

In this group are a former Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Wole Oyelese, former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Chief Olajumoke Akinjide, Femi Babalola, Gbolarumi Azeem, and many other leading chieftains of the PDP in the state.

Oyelese said recently that all original chieftains of the PDP in the state were rooting for Atiku.

In the South-south, the Atiku camp is focusing on Rivers and Edo states.

In Rivers, the PDP presidential candidate has recruited some prominent chieftains of the party who are now working for his aspiration across the state. Former National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, former Governor, Celestine Omehia and House of Representatives member and Rivers State 2023 governorship aspirant, Farah Dagogo, are said to be leading the new push for Atiku in the state. The trio are joined by some other leaders of the party in the state. But Wike and his supporters in the state chapter of the PDP are unrelenting in their resolve to hold firm to the control of the party.

The battle for supremacy is equally fierce in Edo State where the two factions loyal to Atiku and Wike have set up parallel structures.

While Governor Godwin Obaseki is working hard to deliver the state for Atiku in 2023, National Vice Chairman of the party, Dan Orbih, is on the same page with Wike and the G-5 governors across the state.

The two PDP leaders are joined in their corners by other chieftains of the party. The state leadership of the PDP in the state is sharply divided. The state chairman, Tony Aziegbemi, and some of his executives are with Obaseki.

Orbih is not alone. He has the support of a number of the state executive committee members as well as many chieftains of the party.

Notable amongst the PDP chieftains believed to be with Orbih are Edo State PDP Vice Chairman, Barr Henry Omagbon, House of Representatives member from Oredo, Engr Ogbeide-Ihama, Hon. Pascal Ugbome, Barr. Lucy Omagbon, Engr. Mike Onolemenmen, Larry Okunbor and Ogieva Okunbor.

The group says it is in control of the PDP in Edo.

In Enugu and Abia states in the Southeast, subtle struggle for the control of the party is playing out between loyalists of the G-5 governors and those supporting Atiku’s presidential aspiration.

It was gathered that while the Atiku camp has taken control of the zonal leadership of the party and is using its structures to penetrate the two states, the governors of Enugu and Abia, who are staunch members of the G-5 group, are in firm control of their respective state leaderships of the party.

A source said:”Atiku’s performance in the Southeast will determine how well the zonal structure can help him in Enugu and Abia states.

“His men are working hard to break the hold of the two PDP governors on their various states as well as on the zone as a whole.

“If Atiku’s men succeed, he will know by the number of votes he gets from here compared to what he used to get.

“But I can tell you that Ikpeazu and Ugwuanyi, who are candidates in the elections, are not politicians you can walk over easily, especially in their own states.”

 

 

(NATION)

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