The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his supporters have resolved to break the grip of the Nyesom Wike-led G-5 governors on the party in Abia, Benue, Enugu, Oyo, and Rivers states ahead of the February elections.
As a condition for their support for Atiku, Wike and his colleagues in the four other states – Okezie Ikpeazu, Samuel Ortom, Ifeanyi Ugwuayi, and Seyi Makinde – have demanded the resignation of the PDP National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu.
The disgruntled governors and their supporters had withdrawn from Alhaji Atiku’s campaign council and declared that they would not work for his candidacy unless the candidate and party leadership met their demands.
While efforts to resolve the differences between the two sides continue to collapse and the presidential election is only 11 weeks away, Atiku and his strategists decided to secure the support of more PDP chieftains and members in the affected states in order to boost the party’s chances of winning the presidential election.
According to high-ranking party officials, Atiku and his strategists have launched an aggressive recruitment drive for party chieftains not only in the five states controlled by anti-Atiku governors but also in the southern states.
According to an unnamed source, there is now a concerted effort to call the bluff of the disgruntled governors and work for Atiku as the presidential candidate and his supporters are said to be determined to give Governor Ortom a serious fight in Benue.
Ayu is thought to be personally leading the push for state control. He has the support of the state’s immediate past governor, Senator Gabriel Suswam, and Senator Abba Moro.
It was learned that Suswam and Moro have already won the support of many disgruntled PDP aspirants who were denied PDP tickets in their respective constituencies. Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, Mrs Margaret Ichen, and Hon. Chille Igbawua are among the PDP leaders said to be supporting Atiku in the state.
According to one source, with the calibre of PDP chieftains willing to ignore Ortom’s directives and work for Atiku, the governor will find it difficult to prevent the PDP from winning the state next year.
“Benue is a PDP state with numerous PDP leaders scattered all over the state. Ortom is just one of them…With the National Chairman and our Senators ready to support Atiku, the party is strongly behind him and he will do well in Benue state next year.”