Three days after a meeting with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar in Abuja, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, yesterday met with his colleagues behind closed doors over whether to support the party’s candidate or not.
The governors include Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu, Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia, Samuel Ortom, Benue.
The governors who arrived at Akanu Ibiam international airport in Wike’s private jet were received by their host Ugwuanyi, who later led them into the closed-door meeting at the Government House, where Atiku held a consultative meeting with PDP stakeholders in the South East last week.
After the closed-door meeting which lasted for about two hours, the governors declined to speak with journalists.
Sources who noted that Wike briefed his colleagues over his meeting with Atiku, however said the meeting provided an opportunity for the governors to consider their stance on the PDP national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, and whether to support the party or not in the forthcoming election.
It was also learnt that the governors did not take a final position on whether to rescind their decision to join their party’s campaign council which they earlier pulled out of.
The sources however added that the governors would take a position on their next line of action after a broader meeting with other party leaders in their camp with whom they had resolved to withdraw from the party’s campaign.
It was gathered that the governors also didn’t take a position on whether to support the Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi, at the meeting.
Obi had last week met Ortom and Makinde in Ibadan and later Wike in Port Harcourt. The governors had also stayed away from the inauguration of the PDP presidential campaign council that same week.
This second round of meetings with the PDP governors after an earlier meeting in London recently, had fueled speculations that the governors are working forwards an alliance with him ahead of the election.
Ortom however denied that the PDP governors endorsed Peter Obi at their meeting yesterday.
The Benue governor who spoke through his chief press secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, told LEADERSHIP: “The Governor did not endorse Obi. Full stop.”
Also, former member of the House of Representatives, Chief Ogbonna Nwuke, a staunch Wike ally, said the Wike’s camp is yet to confirm if the governors adopted Obi as their candidate at the Enugu meeting.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt yesterday, Nwuke said: “I can confirm that there was a meeting of some PDP governors in Enugu.
“However, I cannot confirm what they decided on because I was not there at the meeting.”
Efforts made by LEADERSHIP to speak with Wike’s Media Aide, Kelvin Ebiri, proved abortive as he neither picked his calls nor returned the text messages sent to his phone line.
Recall that the PDP governors supported by some party leaders had distanced themselves from the party’s presidential campaign unless Ayu resigned and paved the way for the chairman of Southern extraction.
Following their absence at the recent inauguration of the Campaign Council, Wike met again with Atiku where he reportedly insisted that Ayu must go as party chairman.
At LEADERSHIP Twitter Spaces: Returned N151m Has Vindicated Us – Wike’s Camp
The crisis rocking the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is far from abating as the camp loyal to the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, at the weekend chided national chairman of the party, Ayorchia Ayu, over alleged misspending of the party finances.
Speaking at the LEADERSHIP Twitter Spaces, the pro-Wike PDP members said they have been vindicated by the return of the N151 million to the coffers of the party by some members of the National Working Committee (NWC).
They insisted that Ayu must resign to save the party from what they described as embarrassing sharing of party funds.
Last Thursday, five members of the PDP NWC declared that they had returned N151 million paid to them by their national Chairman as two years’ housing allowance.
The return of the funds came barely 24 hours after the party had flagged off its presidential campaign in Abuja.
Speaking during a conversation series at LEADERSHIP Twitter Spaces, chairman of Emohua local government area of Rivers State, Hon Chidi Lloyd, said for sharing such money to the NWC members, Ayu has vindicated them and Governor Wike.
“Ayu vindicated Wike. He must leave. How can a national chairman share that kind of money. Since the allegations of the N1 billion involving Ayu, he did not say anything, and now this. Ayu has vindicated us and he must leave,” Lloyd said.
Also speaking, a senior special assistant (SSA) on Media to Governor Wike, Marshal Obuzor, said Ayu only has the power to approve N10 million, but went ahead to appropriate over N151 million which could translate into billions if multiplied by the entire members of the NWC, which is totally unacceptable.
“With all that has been happening, many don’t see Ayu as the father of everyone. He is making the party look like there is no leadership. The agreement was that if the candidate comes from the North he will resign, ” Obuzor said.
But a member of the PDP, Barr Anthony Ehilebo, said the money shared by the NWC were legitimate, adding that they must be made comfortable.
“Two, three weeks ago, the staff of PDP were having a party. I asked, and they said housing allowances were paid to them. The decision was taken at the NWC.
“The NWC members are not leaving in Abuja. They deserve the money and what is happening is a smear campaign.”
According to Ehilebo, the NWC members must live comfortably because “they can’t live in slums. It’s a smear campaign and I can’t signify it. We know what the facts are and we want people to stop this smear campaign. ”
Another member of the PDP, Ose Anenih, said there was never a time Ayu said he would resign if a northern candidate emerges.
“What he said was that if the party ask him to resign, he would resign and the NEC met and passed a vote of confidence on him. There is a smear campaign coming out from Rivers that is against Ayu.
“Wike removed the last chairman. Even though the chairmanship should still be in the South, he pushed it to the North,” Anenih said, describing the Rivers governor and Dan Orbih as his leaders who should accept the present realities.
On his part, a human rights activist, Comrade Deji Adeyanju, said what is happening in the PDP is unfortunate.
“It’s emiloko (it is my time) ideology. Wike has alleged that bribes were given. Some PDP members should have come out and condemned this act. An NWC member paying N38 million on rent? We don’t understand because we have houses in Abuja. They must return this corruption money.
“PDP is not ready to challenge the APC. You can’t spend that kind of money on rent. PDP is not ready to take power from the APC. Some people are defending this reckless spending, saying the money is there. Why was APC not sharing money when they wanted to take over power?” Adeyanju said.
Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, the activist said the former Anambra governor is still a PDP member who has been meeting with Governors Wike and Rotimi Makinde.
“No difference between Obi and Atiku. If people leave the party, how many will be left? It seems PDP have not realised their mistake and are still undermining that APC.
On his part, Emma Ikume, said it is not wrong if some members of the party decided to donate their housing allowances back to the party.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the NWC members, in separate letters dated September 29 and addressed to Ayu, had said they returned the funds following a report in a national daily that monies were disbursed to silence NWC members over the alleged misappropriation of N15 billion belonging to the party.
Those who returned the money are deputy national chairman South, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja; national woman leader, Prof. Stella Effah-Attoe; national vice chairman South-South, Chief Dan Osi Orbih; national vice chairman, South-East, Dr. Alli Odefa; and national vice chairman South-West, Hon Olasoji Adagunobi-Oluwatukesi.
The money was paid into their account on September 14, 2022. Arapaja returned N36 million, while the four others refunded N28.8 million each.