FINALLY, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar met in Abuja on Thursday with embattled Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike to resolve their feud over the choice of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as the running mate for the 2023 poll.
The meeting, the Nigerian Tribune learned, was facilitated by a former information minister, Professor Jerry Gana, at his residence in Asokoro, part of the federal capital. Sources aware of the meeting told the Nigerian Tribune that the discussion was held in a friendly atmosphere for over an hour.
But when contacted to confirm the meeting and the issues both leaders discussed, Atiku’s media assistant, Paul Ibe, declined the request. However, it was determined that Atiku and Wike agreed in principle to put aside all their political differences and work together to ensure the PDP’s victory in the 2023 general election.
To underscore their commitment to the talks and all issues discussed, they also agreed to set up a committee that would include equal representation from each side to work out the modalities that ostensibly should submit the power-sharing to a more comprehensive PDP for ratification.
The source said the meeting was the starting point in their rapprochement as they expressed their commitments to work together for the PDP’s success in the elections.
The source stated: “Atiku and Wike met today at Professor Jerry Gana’s residence in Abuja, who facilitated the meeting.
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“The atmosphere was cordial and both sides agreed to resolve any disagreement between them.
“They have both chosen to select representatives of equal numbers to form members of a committee that will solve problems and present them to the larger body of the party for ratification.
“It is the starting point, but there are commitments from both sides to work together for the success of the PDP in the upcoming elections.
“The meeting was cordial and it was a good sign, it was a face-to-face to indicate the new direction.”
The findings of the Nigerian Tribune have revealed that both men will continue their talks and agree on when the committee will begin meeting on their behalf after receiving their terms of reference.
On the significance of the meeting between the two feuding party men, the source said: “It’s the best chance we’ve had, without intermediaries, but only with them. It’s a good sign.
“It is a very good sign for the PDP and what the party hopes to do in the 2023 elections and it is a very good sign for the Nigerians because Nigerians are seriously waiting for the main characters to solve their problem.
“If the PDP is expected to take power from the APC, they must do so as a united front. The fact that they now even meet face-to-face is the beginning of the end of solving the problems.”
Thursday’s rally organized by Gana came about 66 days after a hotly contested primaries at the national stadium in Abuja, in which Atiku won by 371 votes against 237 votes polled by Wike.
While Wike was still hurting from the loss of the PDP ticket, the choice of Delta State Governor Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa by Atiku as his running mate, a new twist in the cold war with Wike and some governors sympathetic to his course and venting anger.
They claimed that Wike fell short in the choice of running mate because his name topped the list of three names forwarded by a committee tasked with advising Atiku on the choice.
But Atiku had said his choice depended on competence and capacity and a man who could serve as president if needed in the future.
According to the former vice president, in his consultations with PDP stalwarts, he had made it clear that his “running mate would have the potential to succeed him in the blink of an eye, that is, a president pending.”
To ease the tension on the choice, the chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Wakil Jibril, had announced the creation of a powerful committee to appease Wike. But the body was unable to take off completely because the candidate went on a foreign trip shortly after the close of the presidential primaries.