A report by ThisDay indicates that last week’s London meeting between the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the aggrieved Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, though shrouded in secrecy, was actually not a successful engagement.
Telescope.ng gathered that Tinubu was alleged to have declined committing to all of Wike’s conditions precedent to working together during next year’s presidential election.
By implication, the subsequent engagement between the Rivers State governor, his colleague governors, and the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku Abubakar, also in London, was timeous and face-saving for embittered Wike and friends.
Meanwhile, fresh facts have emerged on the covert involvement of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was equally in London at the time and met with Wike and the rest of them, in some of the ongoing discussions ahead of the 2023 polls.
Although Obasanjo denied backing any candidate ahead of the presidential poll, he was believed to be rooting for the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, for reasons of balance of power among Nigeria’s major ethnic nationalities, in the interest of justice, equity and fairness.
Relatedly, Obasanjo said yesterday in Minna that he would unveil his own agenda for the 2023 general election soon. He stated this after visiting two former Heads of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, at their residences.
In another development, former governor of Kano State, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, was billed to formally join PDP today at an elaborate ceremony, believed to have compelled Atiku to cut short his Paris trip in order to officially receive the ex-governor and his people into the opposition party.
Wike and his friends – Governors Samuel Ortom (Benue), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) – had met in London with Tinubu to consider the possibility of working together. This was after Wike lost out at the PDP presidential primary held May 28, and was also unable to clinch the running mate slot.
The Rivers State governor, who was bitter over his loss, had been openly engaging in what could pass for anti-party activities. He blamed his loss on religion, betrayal by the party leadership, especially, the national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, and the Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, whose sudden decision to stand down for Atiku, he claimed, allegedly tilted the presidential primary result against him.
Ever since, Wike had been working against the interest of PDP, holding meetings with leaders of other political parties in a deliberate effort to undermine his party in next year’s presidential election. Besides APC leaders, Wike had met with leaders of LP and New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), ostensibly, mulling his options.
The governor had been meeting with different people in search of a better deal, and he had hoped for a fruitful engagement with Tinubu, a move he believed would undo his party’s candidate at the presidential election.
However, after he allegedly tabled his demands before Tinubu, soon after their discussions, the former Lagos State governor was said to have failed to commit to any of his demands and explained why he could not accede to his terms. According to sources at the meeting, Tinubu believed Wike’s demands were largely unrealistic and way above what he could realistically bring to the table.
For instance, Wike was said to have demanded that the APC candidate “ensures if he wins the presidential election, which comes first, he will ensure he does not influence the outcome of the governorship and House of Assembly polls in Rivers, Benue, Oyo and Abia states, so that candidates in his camp and those of the other governors could win maintain control of the states.”
The sources said of Wike: “He also wanted assurances that their men should be allowed to win Senate and House of Representatives seats, including the governors contesting senatorial elections. There was no headway on this demand either, since the presidential and National Assembly elections would take place same day.
“Tinubu, however, didn’t make any commitment and that was a red flag for Wike. The APC candidate only said, yes, he could look into the demands for Rivers, but he cannot do same for Oyo, Benue and Abia; that it would be very difficult and will not want to come across as deceptive.”
The sources said Wike wanted Tinubu to force the APC candidate in Rivers State, as well as those of Oyo, Abia and, especially, Benue, where the APC candidate, a cleric, is believed to be very popular, to drop their ambitions.