A retired Army General from a state in the North-Western part of the country reportedly influenced the decision not to pick Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State as the running mate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
It was gathered that some conservative Northern elements in the party had prevailed on Atiku to drop Wike despite promising to give him the running mate ticket just after the presidential primary of the PDP.
A source told The Nation that the conservative Northern elements had also prevailed on the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, to step down for Atiku during the PDP presidential primaries.
The PDP source said the influential retired Army General and a former governor from another state in the North-West zone were the arrowheads of the anti-Wike group.
Atiku had visited Wike at his private residence just after the PDP primary, although discussions at the meeting were not made public.
Running Mate Offer
A source who was privy to discussions at the meeting disclosed that Wike did a debrief of the private chat he had with Atiku.
The source said: “Wike narrated how Atiku told him that he had discussed with Governors Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State and Delta’s Okowa to make them realize that he was not disposed to picking either of them but that they would be accommodated in the scheme of things.
“The Rivers Governor went ahead to say that Atiku had, during their private discussion, offered him the vice presidential ticket, but that he told the PDP flag bearer that he needed time to consult with his team.”
Confirming the claim, a source close to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State said Wike had immediately called his principal to disclose his conversation with Atiku.
“I was with my principal when Governor Wike called to break the news.
“My principal had asked him what his response was, to which he responded that he asked Atiku to give him some time to consult.
“There and then, my principal encouraged him to accept the offer,” the governor’s aide told The Nation.
Wike, who later led three other PDP governors to Atiku’s Abuja residence, told the former vice president he would accept the running mate ticket.
“At that meeting in Atiku’s house, Wike told the former vice president that he had made the necessary consultations and was ready to accept his offer,” a source said.
However, Atiku changed his plans at the last minute by picking Okowa after pressure from highly placed PDP leaders in the North.
Wike, Ortom, Makinde, Others at Crossroads over Tinubu, Obi
Following a statement by the presidential candidate of the PDP Atiku Abubakar that he had moved on, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his camp are said to be weighing other options ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
Others in his camp are Governors Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Benue), and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
THISDAY gathered that the PDP and its presidential candidate have concluded that the five governors would not be backing the party’s candidate in the presidential election.
It was learnt that Atiku is still pushing forward to have his way in the five states despite the opposition by the governors.
Wike had on Friday doubled the number of his special assistants to monitor the political units to 200,000, to maintain a substantial presence of ground troops in the war ahead.
The special assistants according to Wike, are to guide him and the state on how they would vote in the presidential election.
THISDAY learnt that there are suspicions that Wike appeared to have made a deal with Tinubu, but there are indications that it would be difficult for him to pull off the deal in Rivers given the popularity of Atiku and Obi in the state.
Also given that the Rivers governor has lost most of his foot soldiers in the persons of Lt. General Kenneth Minimah (rtd), Austin Opara, Lee Maeba, Celestine Omehia, the Sekibos and several others to Atiku, it will be difficult for him to defeat Atiku in the state.
Makinde also appears to have already made up his mind to back Tinubu given his presence by proxy at the residence of Pa Fasoranti when Afenifere endorsed Tinubu.
THISDAY also gathered that the other governors in the group may reluctantly back Obi.
Ortom said recently that Obi is the best presidential candidate of the lot but diplomatically pulled back a full endorsement, saying that he belongs to the PDP.
Tambuwal, Lamido, Ayu in Closed-door Meeting with Bauchi Gov
Meanwhile, despite Atiku’s position that he had moved on, efforts to resolve the internal crisis rocking the PDP continued on Saturday with its National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu; Director General of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Council and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, and a former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, meeting behind closed door with Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed.
The delegation met with Governor Mohammed Saturday evening.
Speaking, Ayu described Mohammed as one of the major national stakeholders, who have contributed immensely to the development of the party.
He said the meeting was also to rally support for Atiku.
According to him: “We are here to brief you on some of the developments that are going on in the party, nationally and to seek your wise counsel because you’re not just the Governor of Bauchi, you are a leader in this country –very experienced. In all the places you have served, you gathered the experience. And we thought people like you in this campaign from time to time we need to come around and consult, brief you on some things.”
After the closed-door meeting, which lasted for about one hour and 30 minutes, Ayu declined to brief journalists on its outcome.
But Mohammed, who spoke briefly, said that delegation was in Bauchi to discuss issues of the party, the campaign and elections.
“They came to Bauchi to discuss some grey areas concerning my position as Deputy Director General of the Campaign Council in charge of the North,” he said.
Put Obasanjo on Redesigned Naira Note to Inspire Future Generations, Atiku Tells Nigeria Government
He saluted the 85-year-old elder statesman for leading peace talks between the Ethiopian Government and Tigrayan rebels.
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has stated that his former boss and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, ought to be in the proposed redesigned naira note to inspire the future generation of Nigerians.
Atiku, in a series of tweets also saluted the 85-year-old elder statesman and African Union’s mediator for leading peace talks between the Ethiopian Government and Tigrayan rebels after two years of devastating conflict that have claimed thousands of lives and left millions needing aid in Africa’s second-most populous country.
For two years, Ethiopia’s government and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front had been in a civil war that devastated much of northern Ethiopia.
The two parties agreed to a cease-fire a few days ago, after a week of peace talks mediated by Obasanjo, led by the African Union.
Reacting to the development, Atiku wrote via his Twitter handle that he was not surprised, saying Obasanjo had done the same in Liberia and São Tomé while in office.
“I am not surprised. I know my boss. He did the same thing in Liberia and São Tomé and Príncipe during our time in office,” the PDP candidate said. Atiku was Nigeria’s Vice-President between May 1999 and May 2007 when Obasanjo was a democratically elected President. Obasanjo and Atiku’s second term in office was not smooth but the two would later resolve their differences.
He wrote, “I celebrate the extraordinary prowess of His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in bringing peace to Ethiopia. I am not surprised. I know my boss. He did the same thing in Liberia and São Tomé and Príncipe during our time in office. If for nothing else, he is most deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize, and I will nominate him when entries are open for nominations.
“Africa is blessed to have a statesman of such impeccable democratic credentials as Chief Obasanjo – a man whose image ought to be in the redesigned Naira note to inspire future generations of Nigerians to sacrifice for their nation and continent.
“On behalf of my family, I congratulate you, President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, for successfully ending the Ethiopia-Tigray conflict. And I thank God for the gift of wisdom and foresight He gave you, which you have used creditably to steer Nigeria and Africa on the right path.”
On October 26, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele said the apex bank will issue redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 notes, effective December 15, 2022, while the new and existing currencies will remain legal tender and circulate together until January 31, 2023.
Cameroon’s President Celebrates 40 Years in Power; Opposition Seeking Electoral Reforms
Cameroon’s government and its supporters are holding events this week ahead of celebrations Sunday marking President Paul Biya’s 40 years in power. Meanwhile, opposition parties are holding rallies calling for the 89-year-old Biya, the world’s oldest head of state, to change what they say are unfair election laws.
On Thursday in Nanga Eboko on the outskirts of the capital city of Yaoundé, supporters of Biya sang that Cameroon has remained one, undivided and prosperous despite the numerous challenges the central African state has faced since Biya became president in 1982.
The singing and dancing was part of week-long activities marking the 40th anniversary of Biya’s rule.
Biya’s Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, or CPDM, said it dispatched party officials to towns and villages to organize conferences and mobilize more support for the 89-year-old leader who, it said, has achieved a lot for the country.
Elvis Ngolle Ngolle is one of Biya’s close collaborators in the ruling party. He says freedom is top among the things Biya should be credited for and that « every citizen can express themselves in any way they want. »
He says that under Biya’s rule, Cameroon has enhanced women’s rights and vastly improved its education system. « In 1982, we had one state university, » Ngolle Ngolle said. « Today we have more than 11 state universities and hundreds of private university institutes. Incredible in 40 years. »
Ngolle Ngolle says Biya has stayed in power this long because a majority of Cameroonians love and always vote for him.
However, opposition political parties accuse Biya of rigging elections for decades, and wanting to stay in power until he dies.
The Cameroon Renaissance Movement, led by Maurice Kamto, says Kamto won the October 2018 presidential election and that the victory was stolen from him.
Another party, the Social Democratic Front, has joined the CRM in asking civilians not to attend anniversary celebrations to protest Biya’s long stay in power.
Christopher Ndong, the CRM’s secretary-general, said Biya shows no signs of giving up the presidency and that, « Cameroonians are aggrieved because of him. »
« The opposition political parties want him to revise the electoral code, making sure the next president of this country should be democratically elected, » Ndong said. « Cameroonians now want a democratically elected president. »
Ndong said many of Biya’s supporters have resigned from the ruling party and joined the opposition CRM during the anniversary event.
The ruling CPDM acknowledges that it has some internal leadership wrangling but has provided no details.
Loic Kankeu, a lecturer of public law at the University of Yaoundé, said Biya’s absence from conferences aimed at drumming up support indicates the aging ruler is tired. He added that many CPDM supporters want Biya to leave but fear reprisals if they express their views in public.
According to Kankeu, Jean Nkuete, the secretary general of the CPDM party, acknowledged during a meeting with decentralized CPDM party structures this week that leadership squabbles are tearing the party apart. He said malaise within the CPDM is pushing supporters and disgruntled CPDM leaders in many Cameroonian towns and villages to cross over to the opposition Cameroon Renaissance Movement party of Maurice Kamto.
Biya’s supporters are calling on the octogenarian to run for president again in 2025 while the opposition is asking him to hand over power to a younger leader. On July 30, during a visit to Cameroon by French President Emmanuel Macron, Biya said he still has time to decide if he will run again.
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