The dust thrown up by the emergence of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as presidential running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is yet to settle.
The choice of the Delta helmsmen has divided PDP governors and their predecessors. Some are bitter that Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike was dumped for Okowa after the former secured 19 votes to the later’s three during the screening by the National Advisory Council (NAC).
Some stakeholders have also asked the National Chairman of the opposition party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, to step aside following the emergence of the party’s presidential candidate from the North. They say Ayu should live up to his promise to the Board of Trustees (BoT) and other organs of the party to leave office should the party’s presidential candidate come from the North.
They contend that the North cannot occupy the office of the national chairman and also hold the presidential ticket of the party.
Sensing the plot, the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku Abubakar insisted that Ayu can only quit when he is elected into the office.
According to investigation, some governors and leaders of the party were not happy with the conspiracy which led to the emergence of Okowa. A confidential report made available to our correspondent , said: “Some PDP governors and leaders were unhappy over how the leadership of the party overturned the recommendation of the National Advisory Council in which 3 is greater than 19.
“It was unbelievable that the leadership of the party and the candidate ignored the recommendation of all organs to pick Okowa who was rated for calmness. With this, some governors and ex-governors are on one side and others on the other side.
“For instance, some founding fathers led by a former National Security Adviser (NSA) Gen. Aliyu Gusau; governors Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; Godwin Obaseki; Umaru Fintiri; Darius Ishaku; Douye Diri; ex-governors Sule Lamido; Boni Haruna; Emeka Ihedioha and Aliyu Babangida; Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim; Dr. Bukola Saraki, Prince Uche Secondus (a former national chairman of PDP) and others backed Ayu-Atiku’s decision on Okowa.
“But the National Secretary of PDP, BOT leaders, Sen. Sam Anyanwu, some governors like Seyi Makinde, Samuel Ortom, one or two governors in the Southeast, ex-Governor Ayodele Fayose and some NWC members stuck to Wike. They are looking for the next direction from the Rivers State helmsman.
“Although the position of the Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed was unknown, it was speculated that he might eventually pitch tent with Atiku.
“In picking Okowa, an analysis of the performance of the PDP in 2015 and 2019 general elections was done. It was discovered that Delta State could fetch huge votes like Rivers State if all hands were on deck. So, Okowa was seen as an electoral asset too because he could fill the gaps from Wike.
“Okowa was said to be controlling a huge war chest like Wike. Atiku has however told party leaders that resources might not be an issue because ex-presidents Shehu Shagari and Umaru Yar’Adua won elections as poor folks.
A tiki was also said to be banking on ‘imaginary support’ from four APC governors who have pledged some assistance.
“Some stalwarts have however warned Atiku and his strategists against the danger of neglecting Wike who is a political heavyweight. They said reconciliation and inclusion are better than tolerating protest votes from Wike and his backers in PDP.”
As at press time, the fallout of the PDP presidential primary and the choice of a running mate have led to a fresh agitation against the National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.
Some governors, leaders of the party, BOT and NWC members have asked Ayu to step aside. They claimed that Ayu made a pledge to all the organs of the party that once a presidential candidate emerged from the North, he will step down for a new chairman to be elected from the South.
However, Atiku was opposed to Ayu stepping down because of the campaign ahead. He insists that Ayu will remain till after PDP has won the presidential poll.
There was also suspicion in Atiku’s camp that it was a plot to “ease out” Ayu by those aggrieved on the outcome of the primaries. A former governor said: “PDP is not balanced as it is now ahead of the presidential election. We cannot be united if everything is in favour of the North.
“The minimum we are demanding is for Ayu to leave office for a Southern candidate. Ayu told the BoT, the National Executive Committee (NEC) and the National Working Committee (NWC) that he would quit office if a Northerner was elected as PDP flagbearer..
“We are aware that Atiku is opposed to the pressure on Ayu to quit office. The next few weeks and months would determine the shapes of things in the party.”
While in Dubai, Atiku is expected hold talks with his team, rest and see his doctors for a routine checkup.
Another source added: Atiku has left for Dubai for a break and a campaign planning recess. He might take out for routine medical checkup.
“He has secured the ticket, he needs to build goodwill everywhere because as a president, he will operate in a global environment.”
It was learnt that, one of the defeated PDP presidential aspirants, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has left for Dubai where he will have a stopover before jetting out to the United States (US).
Saraki, who was a former Senate President, was said to have “been positioned as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation if Atiku wins.”