The crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party between its presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar and Rivers State Governor Nyesome Wike appears not coming to an end soon despite efforts by the party leaders to end their differences.
This is as Atiku is said to have claimed he would win the coming presidential election without Wike’s Rivers State.
There has been rift between Wike and Atiku over the presidential primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his choice of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as running mate.
Although Atiku and the Rivers State governor met yesterday in Abuja at the instance of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), led by Senator Walid Jibrin, FirstNews learnt that the effort to resolve their differences was unsuccessful.
The meeting was hosted by former Information and Culture Minister Prof. Jerry Gana at his residence.
According to sources, Atiku, at an earlier meeting with PDP’s BoT, was not too keen on settling the issue with Wike, boasting he would win the presidential election without Rivers State.
He was said to have added that President Muhammadu Buhari did not win Rivers State, but won election in 2019.
Based on that, during the meeting with Wike on Thursday, the Rivers State governor was said to have asked the PDP presidential candidate the following questions:
”Did I tell you I want to be the next Minister of Petroleum Resources?
”Have I not been a minister before?
”Do you control Lagos and Kano like President Muhammadu Buhari, if you don’t need Rivers?
”Have I asked for anything to support you?”
Atiku, it was learnt, responded with “no” to most of the questions.
“Throughout the meeting, Wike was busy with posers to clear some impressions from Atiku’s camp in public space. Obviously, he was uncomfortable with some comments attributed to Atiku and some of his strategists.
“But the presidential candidate of the PDP was calm in managing the situation”, the source said.
Meanwhile, sources said Atiku and Wike had been avoiding a meeting that will settle the matter as they often jettison BoT’s invitation.
But the BoT eventually got the stalwarts together with the hope of reconciling them.
Another source from the meeting also said “one takeaway from the meeting is that supporters of Atiku and Wike must stop the media war with immediate effect”.
A member of the BoT said, “When the two leaders did not honour our invitation, we decided to meet with Atiku on Wednesday. We will still have an audience with Governor Wike. Our main interest is to keep the party united before we start the campaign.
“Atiku took time to explain to us how he is ready to work with all party leaders and governors to enable PDP to regain power in 2023.
“He said since 1993, he has desired to contest and win the nation’s presidency without bitterness. He then asked: “‘How can a first-time presidential aspirant be so bitter for losing the primary? What of President Muhammadu Buhari who contested four times for the office?’
“Atiku also revisited the primary and how it was heavily monetised by Wike, but he said he still won.
“He urged the BoT members to prevail on Wike to work with him and others for the success of the party.
“He said otherwise, he will go ahead with the campaign without Wike and his team.
“He also said there are other PDP leaders from Rivers State who have bought into his candidacy, including Abiye Sekibo, ex-Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara, Sen. Lee Maeba and others.”
The source quoted Atiku as telling the BoT members that “if Wike does not want to fall in line, we will go ahead with our campaign. One man alone does not make a state. Some PDP elders in the state are solidly with us.”
He added: “After all, President Buhari won the presidential election without many votes from Rivers State. He lost Rivers and still became the nation’s President after winning in Lagos, Kano and other strategic states.”
The BOT members, however, pleaded with Atiku to “allow more interventions to have a united campaign structure for the party’s victory.”