JUST IN: Hope dims for Atiku, Wike reconciliation

Hope of an end to the protracted crisis that has hit the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dimmed at the weekend.

The gulf between the camp of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar appears to be widening.

Wike’s supporters, sources said, may have foreclosed reconciliation with the Atiku camp.

Wike and three other PDP governors in his camp – Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Samuel Ortom (Benue) – had traveled outside the country at the weekend to deliberate on the way forward for their group, it was learnt.

They returned to the country yesterday.The two camps have been at loggerheads over the lopsided composition of the leadership structure of the main opposition party.

To address the lopsidedness, the Wike camp has insisted on the resignation of the PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, and his replacement with a candidate from the Southwest.

However, the Atiku camp, made up of mainly conservative Northern elements in the PDP, has vowed to retain Ayu as national chairman, despite the current North-South dichotomy.

A party source, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone yesterday, said the two camps have refused to shift grounds since the last London meeting between Atiku and Wike’s loyalists.

“There is no new development on the matter because nothing has changed since they had that meeting in London a few days ago.

“As a matter of fact, we can’t see any positive signs of compromise between the two camps. Rather the two sides are rigidly sticking to their guns regarding the resignation of the National Chairman. So that is the situation at the moment”, the source said.

Some concerned party chieftains are worried that the unfolding events in the PDP portend a possible recast of the 2015 scenario, where unresolved internal disagreement led to high profile defections to the then opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).

Among the defectors were four PDP governors who accused former President Goodluck Jonathan of reneging on a gentleman’s agreement to zone the party’s presidential ticket to the North.

The governors were Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto).

Others who defected were Atiku; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki and former House of Representatives Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal.

The source, however, said it may be too late for Wike and his loyalists to dump the PDP at this period.

According to the source, who did not want his identity disclosed, the Rivers governor and his loyalists may remain in the PDP and work against Atiku’s election from within.

The source further said that the perception in the Wike camp is that PDP’s chances of winning the 2023 presidential election appear very slim.

He added: “The truth is that the Rivers governor and his co travellers are more concerned about their political future post-2023 because they don’t see Atiku and the PDP winning the presidential election.

“Even Atiku and the PDP leaders are unsure of their chances in 2023 because some developments have changed the political equation this time around.

“The presence in the race of Peter Obi and his Labour Party and Kwankwaso flying the flag of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), have narrowed the chances of the PDP than what obtained in the 2019 election.

“Added to the uncertainty is the strength and formidable structure of the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, who by every indication constitutes a serious threat to Atiku and the PDP.”

The PDP will be holding its National Executive Committee (NEC) and Board of Trustees (BoT) meetings on Thursday.

The two meetings will be preceded by a meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) and the National Caucus on Wednesday.

Party sources have hinted that the call for Ayu’s resignation may not come up at the NEC meeting, where decisions on the composition of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council are expected to be taken.

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