FEAR has gripped elders and leaders of thought in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the implications of the simmering face-off between the camps of the presidential candidate of the party for the 2023 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and that of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
The apprehension followed what some of the leaders perceived as the raging crossfire between them, in spite of the series of efforts by other major stakeholders in the party to settle the rift that was exacerbated by the choice of the governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okonwa, by Atiku as his running mate.
The rift, which was part of the fallouts of the presidential primary of the party, won by the former vice president, with Wike coming second, has polarised the ranks of governors elected on PDP platform and other leaders.
To nip the crisis in the bud, chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, Senator Walid Jibrin, had announced the setting up of a broad-based committee that included, among others, governors to broker peace between Atiku and Wike.
A former minister of information and national orientation, Professor Jerry Gana, also facilitated a reconciliation meeting between Atiku and Wike, where they resolved to set up a committee to address all the issues and making recommendations to an enlarged assembly of stakeholders.
It was learnt on Wednesday night that majority of the leaders were apprehensive that the crisis could take a toll on the cohesion of PDP as three distinct camps now engage in hauling verbal ‘missiles’ at one another.
The camps include former governors and ministers in the party loyal to Atiku; those that have sympathy for Wike and another group behind the advocacy that the national chairman of the party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, should step aside for the South to choose a replacement.
According to the elders, the current predicament of the party has persisted because the PDP no longer has a strong figure that could rally together all the tendencies that have emerged over the face-off.
“Not even the chairman of BoT can rally the tendencies together; we were all expecting the effort of Jerry Gana to give a ray of hope, but thereafter, all the camps began to exchange verbal missiles again,” one of the leaders said.
They claimed that the caucus of the governors that ought to intervene in the matter was polarised just as some of the pioneering leaders of the former ruling party in the country.
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Though some of the leaders said the chances of Wike leaving the PDP for the All Progressives Congress (APC) is slim, because of his rivalry with his predecessor in Rivers State and erstwhile minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, they said the party is in dilemma on how to manage the incumbent governor in the final build-up to the 2023 general election.
“The unfortunate situation is that all the governors have taken sides. That is the dilemma we have found ourselves. I know something will happen within the next two weeks. We know Wike is not ready to go to APC. The crisis between Wike and Amaechi is too deep-rooted,” one of the party chieftains said.
Wike was said to be particularly angry against Ayu on the assumption that the national chairman frustrated his bid to secure the presidential ticket of the party.
The party was forced to postpone its national working committee meeting slated for today in Abuja because of the conflict that has led to party chieftains like the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, ex-Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido and ex-minister of foreign affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi, expressing disparate views.