Less than one week to the presidential and National Assembly elections, the G-5 governors led by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State have failed to adopt a presidential candidate, Sunday PUNCH has learnt.
Wike, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, and their counterparts from Abia, Enugu and Oyo states; Governors Okezie Ikpeazu, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Seyi Makinde, had formed the G-5 as a platform to express their dissatisfaction over the Iyorchia Ayu’s continued stay as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The five governors had called for Ayu’s resignation, arguing that it was wrong for the PDP to have northerners as national chairman and presidential candidate, vowing that they would adopt a presidential candidate if Ayu failed to resign from his current position.
While several entreaties to the group from some top PDP members had not yielded any positive result, Wike had given a January 2023 deadline to announce the choice of his group but failed to do so.
Sunday PUNCH gathered that the ambitions of the governors had made it impossible for them to agree on who to choose between Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, having maintained that they were not interested in the presidential candidate of their party, Atiku Abubakar.
Speaking with Sunday PUNCH, a member of the National Executive Committee of the PDP, Diran Odeyemi, said the Oyo state governor (Makinde) knew that his chances of winning a second term as governor were brighter if he would support Atiku.
“When Makinde flagged off his re-election campaign with his other four colleague governors; the people were chanting Atiku.
“Unlike Wike, he allows the party structure to work and campaign for the former Vice President. I think this is because he knows the importance of the PDP’s flag to his re-election bid. Staying on the side of Atiku even without saying so is a smart move for him,” he said.
An associate of Governor Ortom who spoke to this medium in confidence said, “The governor (Ortom) has already inaugurated an Obi team, using his most trusted aides and allies,” he said.
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the Integrity Group, Chief Bode George, has disclosed the reason why the group and the G-5 have not endorsed a presidential candidate six days to the general elections.
George explained that the five aggrieved governors of the PDP had not met with the Integrity Group since they met in Lagos in November 2022.
He also stated that a meeting of the whole would soon be arranged to harmonise the individual choices of the members of G-5.
When asked whether the decision to support a presidential candidate would become belated as the elections drew near, he said, “Look 24 hours in politics is a long time, and if you multiply 24 hours by 22, you know how many hours you are going to get for decision to be made.
“Yes, the G-5 people have met, they have been talking but they are looking forward to fix a meeting for the integrity group, where there will be a lot of very healthy in-depth analysis and discussion, before we come out.”
Also, a chieftain of the PDP and former member of the National Assembly, Senator Olaka Wogu, said the G-5 was not divided over the choice of a presidential candidate, adding that the focus of the group was to ensure freedom and inclusiveness.
Wogu said, “They have a stand and they have a method in place. The impact may not be the way people want, but what matters is that they have impact of conviction. They have never been divided. When people say they are divided, you see them together and it is unending.”
Wike hails govs
In a related development, Governor Wike said the electorate in the Rivers State would not vote for any political party in Saturday’s presidential election that had shown blatant contempt for political power shift and inclusivity in governance.
He said considering the heterogeneous nature of Nigeria, the resolve in Rivers State was that the electorate and all lovers of Nigeria would vote for the unity of the county during the forthcoming election.
Wike stated these while speaking at Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic’s Field, venue of Obio-Akpor Local Government Area campaign rally organised by the state PDP Campaign Council on Saturday.
The governor, who again commended the governors elected on the platform of the APC for their insistence on political power shift to southern Nigeria, said such stance was a proof that they understood the essence of Nigeria’s unity, wherein every section should have feeling of an equal stake.
He stated, “We are going to vote for the unity of Nigeria; we are going to vote for equity, fairness and justice. That is why I salute the APC governors who came out to say, for this country to be united, for this country to move on as one, there is the need for power to shift.”
Wike urged the people to be vigilant and be mindful of the happenings in the country so that they would not be taken unawares.