At Last, Atiku, Wike Meet, Move to Resolve Their Differences
*Former VP throws down the gauntlet, says Nigeria can’t make progress without restructuring
*PDP presidential candidate appoints Dino Melaye, Daniel Bwala spokespersons
*Ayu: Osun election signposts victory for PDP in 2023
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the embittered Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Nyesom Wike yesterday met in Abuja, in a move aimed at resolving the differences in the main opposition party ahead of the 2023 general elections.
A reliable source told THISDAY that the meeting took place at the residence of Prof. Jerry Gana at Asokoro.
Also, Atiku yesterday stated that restructuring was the solution to Nigeria’s multifarious problems, embracing a time-honoured panacea that successive governments have chosen to ignore, and throwing down the gauntlet to a political class plagued by a corrupt tendency to exploit societal disequilibrium.
As part of preparations for his 2023 election campaign, Atiku yesterday appointed Senator Dino Melaye and Dr. Daniel Bwala as his spokespersons.
In a related development, National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, yesterday, said the party’s recent victory in the Osun State governorship poll was a clear pointer to the fact it was on its way to victory in the 2023 general election.
Atiku had won the PDP presidential primary in May, which Wike was poised to win, but for a last-minute withdrawal by Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, which the Rivers State governor perceived as betrayal.
A reliable source told THISDAY that the meeting between Atiku and Wike took place at the residence of Professor Jerry Gana at Asokoro.
The meeting was first brokered by members of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), who met Atiku at his Asokoro residence. THISDAY gathered that Atiku, after the meeting with the BoT members, contacted Gana, also a BoT member, who acts as a liaison between the PDP presidential candidate and Wike.
With the time agreed for the meeting, Wike flew into Abuja and proceeded straight to the residence of Gana, where the meeting took place.
Wike had since returned to Port Harcourt after the meeting.
But the source did not give details of the meeting.
The source simply said, “The ice has been broken. They (Atiku and Wike) have commenced talks and in a few days time, the details of their meeting would be made public. Wike is expected to brief members of his campaign group.”
The source further said the meeting was the first step in the reconciliation process and was attended by only Atiku and Wike.
The source added, “The meeting showed that there is a commitment to resolve their differences that arose from the presidential primary. Actually, both of them agreed to nominate certain number of persons, equal numbers, to meet and trash out the issues one by one.”
An insider at the meeting and Wike supporter had on Sunday told THISDAY that all parties had ruled out defection to another party, saying, however, there must be a meeting to discuss inclusivity.
The source had said, “As far as we are concerned, we are open for discussion. We want everything to be put on the table. We remain in the party, we are not going anywhere, we want to be seen as equally stakeholders.”
THISDAY had reported that a camp in the PDP led by Wike had allegedly given conditions for peace, which included being considered equal stakeholders in the party.
Atiku Says Nigeria Can’t Make Progress Without Restructuring
Meanwhile, Atiku spoke on the need to restructure the country at the 64th Annual Bible Study Conference of the National Council of Anglican Youth Fellowship (AYF) of Nigeria.
He was represented by his running mate and governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, at the event held at the Ekiti Diocesan Camp Ground, Iyin-Ekiti, Ekiti State.
Atiku, who was Special Guest at the Bible study conference, highlighted the need for the country to be restructured. He said Nigeria was in dire need of knowledgeable, capable, and experienced leaders, who would break the cycle of failed leadership and take it to the level of growth and prosperity.
The former vice president said devolution of powers and resources to the sub-national governments and the guaranteeing of a constitution that allowed equity, justice for all, and inclusiveness in governance, such that none was left out or oppressed, were what Nigeria needed to run a proper federal structure.
According to him, Nigeria should continue as a federation but not in its present form.
Atiku stated, “I advocate a proper federal structure that recognises the federating units and the federal government as mutually coordinate, and not subordinate one to the other, yet cooperative among themselves, distinct from the current structure where states exist as mere appendages of the centre.
“I am particularly thrilled by the theme of this conference, ‘Be Strong and Courageous’, because the times we live in call for men and women of courage, who will stand up to be counted in the battle to rescue and rebuild Nigeria.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria’s unity is under serious threat today. The mutual suspicion, distrust, and, sometimes, hostility among the various ethnic groups have reached levels never experienced before, fuelling separatist agitations across the country.
“This is largely due to the general discontent occasioned by the broken promises, dashed aspirations, and the lop-sidedness in power-sharing under the current federal government.
“As I said some time ago, a situation where the top guns in the nation’s security architecture are dominated by persons from a particular ethnic/religious group does not augur well for the unity and progress of the country.”
Speaking further, he said, “Nigeria can only grow if ethnic, religious and tribal divides dissolve, and a pan-Nigeria goal is truly desired and embraced by all. We must act swiftly – and decisively – to calm the raging storm, regain confidence in the Nigerian project, and halt the drift towards chaos and anarchy.
“The forthcoming 2023 elections offer us the opportunity to do the needful and move Nigeria in the right direction. It calls for sober reflection and strategic thinking as against the mindless euphoria, sensationalism, and herd mentality that brought us to where we are today.
“Going forward, we need mature, wise, and experienced leaders who will inspire hope in our country and foster a sense of belonging among all Nigerians.
“I am an ardent believer in the restructuring of Nigeria, especially as it relates to fiscal federalism and devolution of powers.
“Restructuring does not mean we jettison the federal system of government. In fact, I believe that it is more functional and realistic for our ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural diversities.
“I guarantee you that the states and Nigeria will develop faster when the proper federal structure is put in place.”
The former vice president assured that if voted as president in 2023, he would prioritise education in the country, as no nation could develop beyond the knowledge base of its citizens. He recalled the late Nelson Mandela’s words, “Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world.”
Atiku added, “You can, therefore, imagine my pain and grief to see students of our tertiary institutions idling away at home when they should be in school.
“It not only distorts the academic calendar, it also robs the parents and the students of their hope for a better future.
“I wish to use this opportunity to respectfully call on the federal government to urgently reach a compromise with striking university lecturers and reopen our universities.
“No nation can afford to have its students to be idle or roaming the streets and expect to achieve peace, security, and inclusive economic growth.”
He called for the harnessing of the creative energies of the youth to accelerate national development by providing them with a solid education system that equipped them with the right skills-set and leadership credentials.
According to him, “As a corollary to the above, Nigeria needs a well thought-out policy to tackle youth unemployment through skills training and entrepreneurship development programmes.
“The army of the unemployed in our country is a recipe for disaster. To get out of the current quagmire, we must, as a matter of urgency, begin to think more in terms of equipping them with the technical know-how, vocational skills, values and resources to become job and wealth creators, as well as giving them employability skills.
“We must be intentional, determined, and resolute about this to avoid a situation where graduates from our educational system roam the streets in search of non-existent jobs.”
Welcoming guests earlier, National President of AYF, Mr. Alex Akpata, said Nigerians were faced with serious security and economic challenges. But Akpata urged the youth to be strong and courageous, saying the country would soon overcome its challenges.
He urged the youth to join politics and stand firm in voting for candidates that would protect the interest of the people.
Atiku Appoints Dino Melaye, Daniel Bwala as Spokespersons
In preparation for his 2023 election campaign, Atiku yesterday appointed Senator Dino Melaye and Dr. Daniel Bwala as his spokespersons.
According to a statement signed by Atiku’s media adviser, Paul Ibe, the two appointments take immediate effect.
Malaye is a politician and a member of the Eighth Senate, who represented Kogi West Senatorial district. He hails from Ayetoro Gbede in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State
Bwala is a legal practitioner, politician and public affairs analyst. He hails from Adamawa State.
Atiku had previously announced three other appointments involving Eta Uso, Abdulrashhed Shehu, and Demola Olanrewaju, in a statement signed by Ibe, which said the appointments took immediate effect.
Uso, according to Ibe, was appointed Special Assistant Digital Media, Operations to the former vice president.
Uso is an alumnus of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a U.K trained Advanced Computing and Internet systems expert from the University of Wales, Bangor.
He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society, United Kingdom, and Nigeria.
The statement said Abdulrasheed, a professional media specialist with proven track record of excellence – with a decade of experience on the job at various media firms – was appointed Special Assistant, Broadcast Media.
He is a graduate of Mass Communications from ISM Adonai, Benin Republic, and holds a Master’s in International Relations and Diplomacy from Maryam Abacha American University, and Master’s in Journalism and Broadcasting from Girne American University, Cyprus..
Ibe also said Olanrewaju was made Special Assistant, Digital Media Strategy
Olanrewaju is a communications and public relations strategist with a background in Nigeria’s history and political ideologies, developed during his days as a students’ union leader at the University of Ado Ekiti.
According to the statement, Olanrewaju “is involved in the start-ups of a number of businesses and brings media industry knowledge, digital media engagement and creative writing skills to shape perceptions, craft narratives and messaging for individuals, businesses and organisation.”
Ayu: Osun Guber Signposts Victory for PDP in 2023 General Elections
National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, yesterday said the party’s victory in the Osun State governorship election signposted its move to victory in the 2023 general election.
Ayu predicted that PDP would witness an increase in the number of governors coming to power on its platform. He said the party was confident of controlling the National Assembly, House of Representatives, most Houses of Assembly, and the presidency.
The national chairman spoke at an interactive meeting of the party’s NWC members and former national publicity secretaries, state and zonal publicity secretaries and other key stakeholders.
According to Ayu, “We are definitely going to win the next election, we will increase the number of governors, we will control the National Assembly, House of Representatives, most State Houses of Assembly and, of course, the big prize, we shall return to the villa (Aso Rock Presidential Villa).
“During the elections in Abuja in the six local governments, people voted massively for the PDP. Out of the 68 councillors, PDP won 48 of those counsellors and APC came down to 18 or so.
“From the elections in Ekiti and Osun, again, it was clear that the preferred party that the Nigerian people want to take over power next year is still the PDP. This is not based on lies, it is based on realities.
“It’s based on the reality of these two states elections – Ekiti and Osun – never mind we had hiccups in Ekiti for reasons which many Nigerian and party members know. We still keyed in on a very important state of Osun.
“This means we now control the heartland of the South-west. We control both Osun and Oyo and if you control the heartland of the South-west, you are likely to win in the rest of the South-west in Ondo, in Ogun and, of course, the big prize in Lagos.”
Ayu emphasised the need for the party as well as its members and supporters to continue to do the right thing.
He said, “The Nigerian people, as long as we continue to do the right things, they will believe us and they will definitely give us their mandate.
“We have already demonstrated this in the last six to eight months since we took over as the NWC of the party.”
Speaking at the meeting, National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, disclosed that the party would soon unveil other programmes that would be beneficial to all and sundry.
According to Ologunagba, “We believe that together we can pilot the affairs of this party, and, of course, our nation, by ensuring that we have this conversation, and we intend to have it on a regular basis.”
This, he said, would go a long way to “create communication and publicity structures and strategies for our party and, of course, for our nation because when we get into government, we believe that this body would be a permanent fixture in such a way that there will be consultation.”
Ologunagba revealed that the meeting restated confidence in the national chairman of the party and the NWC in their running of the affairs of the party.
He stated that the meeting, “Restates confidence in the capacity, experience and competence of Atiku Abubakar to rescue, redirect and rebuild this country to earn the respect of the international community.
“We believe that only the PDP under the leadership of Atiku Abubakar has the capacity to protect and secure the lives and properties of Nigerians as well as rebuild the economy of the nation in such a manner as to put food on the table.
“We commit to remain loyal and integral in the mission of the PDP to make all sacrifices necessary to achieve success in Rescuing, Redirecting and Rebuilding our nation from the misrule of the APC.”