Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Loyalists of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar gathered momentum last weekend
as they moved to expel Nyesom Wike, former governor of Rivers state, from PDP.

“At a meeting hosted by Atiku, the PDP flagbearer in the disputed 2023 presidential election, and attended by ‘elders and stakeholders’ who are Atiku’s loyalists, the ‘Wike problem’ was discussed extensively,” a source revealed.

Most of the attendees rooted for Wike’s expulsion, but some feared that it may further divide the PDP and lead to an “ANPP” syndrome.

The All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), which started as All Peoples Party (APP) in 1999, was the strongest opposition party in the country, controlling nine states between 1999 and 2003.

However, a protracted internal crisis soon divided the party and it was left with just three states by 2007, after which it paled into insignificance before dissolving into the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2013.

Senior party members loyal to Wike are threatening to “fight till the end” — including forming parallel PDP and creating a protracted, ANPP-like crisis — if the former governor is expelled.

The PDP situation has been complicated with the nomination of Wike, whom Atiku defeated in party’s presidential primary last year, by President Bola Tinubu for a ministerial position in the APC government.

Wike’s apparent acceptance of the nomination is seen as “the final straw” by the Atiku group, following earlier moves to expel the former governor over “anti-party activities” for openly supporting Tinubu in the presidential election.

Atiku hosted some senior party members on Saturday

The Wike group — formerly known as G5 — has already succeeded in installing Simon Davou Mwadkwon (Plateau) as the senate minority leader and Kingsley Chinda (Rivers) in a similar position in the house of reps.

The defeat of the Atiku loyalists in the national assembly, led by former governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, was considered another kick in the teeth.

But most members of the national working committee (NWC) are reportedly on Wike’s side or opposed to Atiku, making the move to expel the ministerial nominee more complicated.

An NWC member told TheCable that the “elders and stakeholders” that met with Atiku last weekend do not hold any official position in the PDP and are not constitutionally empowered to suspend Wike.

Iyorchia Ayu, the former national chairman who was suspended through a court order, attended the meeting.

But a former governor who is loyal to Atiku told TheCable that most NWC members “have sold their souls to Wike” and are no longer trusted to do what is right for the party.

TheCable previously reported that PDP members loyal to Atiku are moving against Umar Ililya Damagum, the acting national chairman, over allegations that he is working for Wike.

Atiku, party insiders told TheCable, has been unhappy with Damagum for allegedly hobnobbing with Wike.

Atiku’s biggest supporters — Sule Lamido, former governor of Jigawa, Babangida Aliyu, former governor of Niger, and Adamu Maina Waziri, former minister — have moved against the acting chairman, who took over from Ayu in March 2023.

Damagum and Ahmadu Fintiri, the governor of Adamawa, Atiku’s home state, are accused of “hobnobbing” with Wike.

The Atiku loyalists also alleged that Damagum “mismanaged” the funds he inherited from the Ayu-led NWC, an allegation he denies.

However, TheCable also reported that some Atiku’s proxies have also been reaching out to Wike to help with the party’s election cases at the tribunals across the country.

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