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Atiku Raises Team To Woo Wike, Rivers Gov’s Camp Adamant

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The Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has set up a committee to pacify and woo the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and some other aggrieved members of the party.

The initiative was instituted by Atiku based on the need to go into the 2023 general elections with a united front.

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The PUNCH reports that the opposition party has been rocked by crisis following the choice of the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as Atiku’s running mate.

Wike, Okowa and Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa-Ibom had appeared before the screening panel set up by the PDP to nominate a vice-presidential candidate to the PDP presidential flagbearer.

Okowa was nominated by the PDP presidential candidate after rumours had it that Wike had been selected by the party advisory committee as the vice-presidential candidate the day before.

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READ ALSO: Atiku’s VP: Southern, Meddle Belt Leaders Reject Okowa, Says ‘He’s A Traitor’

But findings indicate that the PDP feared Wike might work against Atiku’s ambition following his loss as the party presidential candidate and running mate to Atiku.

Signs that the PDP might run into stormy waters became pronounced with the defection of some of Wike’s supporters from the party in the last 24 hours.

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Aside from the resignations of two allies of the Rivers state governor-a former minister of Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe and an ex-commissioner in Edo State, Kassim Afegbua, a mass exodus of party members was also said to be looming.

Sequel to the ominous signs in the party, Atiku was said to have constituted a team to appease and fully bring back Wike into his campaign council, ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a PDP chieftain who was privy to the decision, said, “Atiku wanted to tell Wike about his choice of Okowa one-on-one but then, he heard that Wike had returned to Rivers. That clearly showed good faith. Even though Wike was not the selected candidate, Atiku wanted to accord him respect by letting him know before the news got to the public.

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“Atiku has set up a reconciliatory committee to reach out to Wike and mend the cracks. Atiku understands the need to go to the 2023 elections with a united front. Everyone will be pacified. Not only Wike but every aggrieved person within the party.”

Corroborating the development, a top Atiku confidant stated, “Our people (PDP members) are still aggrieved and when you are doing mediation, you don’t give the impression that you are not sincere but it is a serious undertaking.“His Excellency, Governor Wike is strategic to Atiku’s victory, make no mistake about it. Whatever anybody may say, that is a party man through and through. He understands the times we are in and that was why he threw his hat in the ring; that is why he wants to be president because he feels that he has what it takes to lead the country so also the other candidates who contested.

“Now, that the contest is over, we really have a responsibility to bring everybody together. You don’t go to a battle with a disunited army. Wike is the kind of man you can go to battle with, you don’t leave him behind. You do all you can to bring him on board. The enemy is not within PDP; the enemies are those who have enslaved us; people that have impoverished us.”

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Asked about the composition of the reconciliation panel, the source declined to release their names, noting that the job of the members was sensitive.

According to him, the team would approach those known to have Wike’s ears and get them to talk to the Rivers State Governor to close ranks with Atiku.

On the timeframe for the committee’s work, the source added, “No timeframe, it is an ongoing process. We are working very hard and I can assure you that a lot of work is going on. I know because I have spoken with one of those involved.”

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The media adviser to Atiku, Mr Paul Ibe, could not be reached for comment while the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, declined to speak.

READ ALSO: Presidency: Okowa A Minus To Atiku, Igbos Won’t Vote PDP – Ohanaeze

Wike’s camp

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Meanwhile, the peace moves by Atiku may, however, be heading for the rocks as the loyalists of the Rivers State Governor have dismissed the initiative as unnecessary.

A PDP chieftain in Rivers State and former member of the House of Representatives, Ogbomna Nwuke, described the Atiku reconciliation committee as a contradiction.

Speaking to The PUNCH on Tuesday, he said, “On one hand, somebody says he (Wike) is one who talks too much, who probably is uncontrollable. And then, on the other hand, you want him to help your cause. You want victory and you think he can contribute to your victory. Is that not a contradiction?

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“There was an attempt to draft a man who was not interested in the vice-presidency into the vice-president; a committee set up, the caucus spoke, the national working committee of the party spoke favourably about Wike and it was not honoured.”

Nwuke further stated, “Atiku did what he wanted to do. So what committee is he setting up again? To do what? It doesn’t make sense.

“When the convention was over, nobody showed him the way to Wike’s house. If he wants Wike to work with him, he should walk to the Governor of Rivers State and speak with him. We don’t need committees, what will the committee do? It doesn’t make sense to me.

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“I don’t know why relationships shouldn’t be exploited. What is this committee thing? You have something else in your mind, you set up a committee to do something else. What is the meaning of that?”

“For the avoidance of doubt, Governor Wike had said no matter what happens he would not leave the PDP. That was what he said.

“The implication is that a man who is committed to the PDP will work for the PDP, whether you set up a committee or not. And that is my personal opinion,” Nwuke stated.

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Nwuke, who was also a former commissioner for Information and Communications in Rivers State, also took a swipe at a former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, who accused Wike of being loquacious and rude.

Aliyu had in an interview on Channels Tv on Tuesday said that the PDP presidential candidate did not pick Wike as his running mate because he wanted someone that could complement him, rather than one that talks too much like Wike.

But Nwuke, who represented Etche-Omuma federal constituency in the National Assembly, dismissed Aliyu’s criticisms, saying he didn’t understand the difference between politicking and administration.

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He argued, “The Wike that this man (Aliyu) is talking about has been chief of staff. As chief of staff, he never went against his principal. He spoke and did not go beyond his brief.

READ 2023: Atiku’s Promise To PDP Governors Before Picking Okowa As Running Mate Revealed

“This same man (Wike) had served as the Minister of Education. While serving as minister he did not also speak out of tune. Of course, he knew who the boss was, he knew what his role was and he played his role.

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“And so people should draw a fine line between politicking and administration. They are not the same thing.

“Everybody who knows Wike knows that he is a team player. In trying to help build the PDP he worked with a team of committed PDP people. And together, they were able to bring the PDP from where it was, in defeat to where it is today.”

Efforts to reach the chairman of the River State PDP, Desmond Akawor, and the party’s spokesman, Sydney Gbara, proved abortive as they did not respond to calls.

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Gbajabiamila Reveals What Transpired At Obasanjo, Tinubu’s Meeting

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Speaker of House of Representatives, Rep.Femi Gbajabiamila, has revealed what transpired at the meeting between former president Olusegun Obasanjo and presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Sen. Bola Tinubu,

Gbajabiamila in a statement on Thursday while speaking at the Surulere Local Government Area (LGA) APC meeting in Surulere, Lagosaid Obasanjo made encouraging statements about Tinubu’s aspiration and even prayed for the APC presidential candidate.

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He said, “When we were going to Obasanjo’s house, we were eight, including Asiwaju Tinubu; we did not want many people to know about the meeting. So, we were to meet Obasanjo and five others from his side.

“But when we eventually got there, we met something pleasantly shocking: a mammoth crowd of our supporters were at Obasanjo’s house waiting for us.

READ ALSO:  Details Of Tinubu’s Meeting With Obasanjo Emerge

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“So, Obasanjo told Asiwaju Tinubu to pick three people from his side and that he would pick three from his side to meet behind closed doors.”

He stated that he alongside Chief Bisi Akande, Osoba and Asiwaju were at the meeting and from what Obasanjo said to them, Tinubu’s victory is assured.

Obasanjo spoke at length and we were all happy. He embraced our candidate like a brother, gave him a pat on the back, and prayed for him copiously”, Gbajabiamila said.

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He added that Tinubu’s meeting with Obasanjo assured him of victory in 2023.

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JUST IN: Court Strikes Out Suit Seeking To Void Ademola Adeleke’s Nomination For Osun Guber Election

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Justice Obiora Egwuatu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has struck out a suit seeking nullification of submission of the name of Ademola Jackson Nurudeen Adeleke as the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the last July 26 election.

The judge on Thursday struck down the suit on the ground that the plaintiff lacked locus standi to institute the case.

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The plaintiff in the suit, Awoyemi Oluwatayo Lukman, had dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the PDP and Adeleke before the court seeking order to void and set aside the submission of Adeleke’s name to INEC on grounds of alleged unlawful action.

The grouse of the plaintiff was that Adeleke’s name was hurriedly submitted by PDP on March 11 as against between March 14 to 18 as contained in the INEC guidelines.

Adeleke’s name having not been submitted within the period fixed by INEC, the plaintiff asked the court to declare the submission, illegal, unlawful, null, and void and be set aside.

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He claimed that INEC must be bound by its official guidelines and that anything done outside the guidelines is against the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.

READ ALSO: Osun Govt, Adeleke Trade Words Over Alleged Looting

However, in his judgment, Justice Obiora Egwuatu struck out the suit on the ground that the said Awoyemi Oluwatayo Lukman lacked locus standi to have instituted the case.

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The Judge held also that the suit was statute barred having been fixed outside the 14 days stipulated by Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution that all pre-election suits must be filed within 14 days whereas, the instant suit was filed after 28 days.

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FLASHBACK: How Tinubu Named Obasanjo ‘Greatest Election Rigger’ In Nigeria

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential flagbearer for the 2023 general elections, Bola Tinubu, had on February 9, 2019, called the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo “the greatest election rigger” in the country.

The former Lagos State governor made the claim while accusing Obasanjo of rigging the 2007 presidential election which brought Late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua into power as Nigerian president.

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Asiwaju, who made the assertion during a presidential rally of the ruling party at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos State, alleged that Yar’Adua admitted being rigged into office before he died.

He said: “When he was asked, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua admitted that the election which brought him into office was rigged.

“Who conducted that election? Obasanjo. Obasanjo is the greatest election rigger in this country.”

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Meanwhile, the APC national leader on Wednesday visited the ex-president over his 2023 presidential ambition.

READ ALSO: Details Of Tinubu’s Meeting With Obasanjo Emerge

Tinubu, who is seeking the support of Obasanjo to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari come 2023, met the former president behind closed-doors at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Ogun State.

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In a tweet after the meeting, Tinubu expressed gratitude to Obasanjo and the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun for the fantastic welcome accorded him during the visit.

He wrote: “My gratitude to former President Obasanjo, Governor Dapo Abiodun and the great people of Ogun State for the fantastic welcome. Thank you.”

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