2023: You Can’t Snatch Wike from PDP, Saraki Tells APC Governors
*Ayu to meet PDP govs as plot for his removal thickens
Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
Former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has described last Friday’s visit by the Governors of Ekiti, Ondo and Lagos states, Dr Kayode Fayemi and Mr Olurotimi Akeredolu and Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu to their Rivers State counterpart, Mr Nyesom Wike in Port Harcourt as an exercise in futility.
Also, as the plot by some southern governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to remove the National Chairman of the party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, from office thickens, the embattled former President of the Senate has returned to the country to meet the governors and other stakeholders, THISDAY has learnt.
The three APC governors were said to be in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, apparently to woo the aggrieved PDP governor to the ruling APC.
But Saraki who spoke with journalists on Friday night in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital on the visit, said it would amount to nothing at the end of the day, adding that PDP would not allow Wike to leave the main opposition party.
According to him, “Governor Wike is an important member of our party and I am very confident that in no distant time, we will sit down and address all the issues.
“There is no doubt about it that he has cause to feel the way he does, but there are better ways by which issues like this would be resolved.
“The good thing is that we are all talking to one another. We are on top of the situation and PDP will reunite and forge ahead to win the next elections.
“I assure you that PDP will resolve the family issues that it currently has,” he said.
Saraki added: “The fact that some APC governors went to see their colleague, trying to capitalise on what they think is an issue is a gross miscalculation. At the end of the day, their visit is going nowhere.
“The APC governors know that it is this kind of a crack they need to latch on to. Fortunately, we are not going to give him (Wike) to them because the election ahead is too important.
“The destinies of millions of Nigerians are too important and even bigger than any party or individual. I appreciate that; all our stakeholders appreciate that and Governor Wike himself appreciates that.”
On the current strike by university unions in Nigeria, the ex-governor of Kwara State blamed it on the federal government’s insensitivity.
Senator Saraki added: “There is no way I will be part of the government as the Senate President and ASUU and other unions in the universities will go on strike for months.
“It is a lack of compassion and dedication. It is a matter that government should lock itself up in a room and not come out until the matter is resolved.
“And I have not seen that dedication. I don’t know whether you have seen it.
“That is the difference between the PDP government and what we have now. It could not have happened under Presidents Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan,” Saraki said.
He, however, predicted that the PDP would form the next government to return the governance of the country to the people and also boost their socio-economic well-being.
Ayu to Meet PDP Govs as Plot for His Removal Thickens
Meanwhile, as the plot by some southern governors elected on the platform of the PDP to remove the National Chairman of the party, Ayu, from office thickens, the embattled former President of the Senate has returned to the country to meet the governors and other stakeholders.
THISDAY gathered that some of the governors are championing the removal of Ayu from office in line with the zoning principle, which ensures that the national chairman of the party and its presidential candidate should not come from one geographical zone.
The investigation further revealed that with the return of Ayu from vacation, the party has activated a series of meetings to starve off the agitation for his removal from office.
Some chieftains of the party who spoke to THISDAY stated that he rushed back to Nigeria to meet the aggrieved stakeholders.
Multiple sources said the calls for his resignation were being amplified by the members of the camp of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who feel the former Senate President was not neutral but sided with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar during the presidential primary.
It was also gathered that some of the PDP governors who are sympathetic to Ayu, including his state governor, Samuel Ortom of Benue State have stepped in to avert his removal.
Also to address the grievances of some governors of the PDP over the choice of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as the party’s vice-presidential candidate, the chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Mr Walid Jubrin is said to be championing a reconciliation meeting with the governors of the party to appease Rivers State Governor, Mr Nyesom Wike.
A member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party told THISDAY that “it is not that the governors of the party are insisting that Atiku must change Okowa. No! We want all issues to be put on the table and let them be addressed as in the case of who gets what.
“The National Chairman is back and he has lined up a series of meetings to address this perceived crisis, including agitations for his removal.
“He is billed to meet the PDP governors, the BoT members and even former PDP governors and Atiku once he returns to the country. It is expected that Ayu will use the Sallah break to reach out to those aggrieved as well as those perceived as his friends.
“The meetings to follow must address the power-sharing when the PDP comes to power.
“It is not going to be blind followership. Every group must know what is in stock for it. We are sure that after the meetings, these agitations will reduce”, the NWC member said.
The source explained that it was agreed that at the pre-convention stages in October 2021 that if the presidential candidate comes from the North, the National Chairman should resign.
He argued that “this may not be the best time for a leadership change from the top, but what ought to be addressed should be addressed. We are sure that with Ayu, the series of consultations and meetings with the PDP governors’ forum and other stakeholders will commence immediately after the Sallah break. It is expected that the expected talks should start within breaks.”
Some stakeholders of the party have also insisted that Ayu’s position should be given to the South-east for equity and justice.
The stakeholders stated in a memorandum submitted to the BoT insisted that the South-east should be considered for the post of national chairman to appease the zone.
On his part, the chairman of PDP BoT, Jibrin told THISDAY that he would meet Atiku to present the BoT’s recommendations to him.
According to him, Atiku should lead the reconciliation talks with Wike.
“Wike should be given a sense of belonging,” he said.
Jibrin insisted that the BoT had already set up a high-level committee, to be led by Atiku and 13 governors of the party to meet with the aggrieved politicians, particularly Wike and his supporters.
“There are many issues relating to campaign strategies, including setting up of committees to handle vital aspects that have been pending. We can’t do anything on these until the presidential candidate is around,” he added.