Polls: Ortom Breaks Ranks, G5 Governors Battle To Save Political Careers
It’s exactly six days to the presidential election. If everything goes according to plan, Nigerians will be voting for candidates of their choice out of which one will be announced as President.
Leading the pack of 18 candidates are in no particular order: Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
The PDP has been in the news over its internal crisis following the activities of five of its aggrieved governors who have expressed displeasure with the party leadership over the continued stay in office of the National Chairman, Dr Iyiorchia Ayu.
The Governor Nyesom Wike-led group had hinted at the possibility of backing a single presidential candidate other than Atiku should Ayu remain in office against what they argued is against the letter and spirit of the PDP Constitution.
Specifically, they noted that the party’s Constitution provides that party and elective positions be zoned between the North and the South.
It is now clear that each member of the G5 Governors has opted to back different presidential candidates.
This is the sequel to their inability to reach a consensus on a single candidate to support as a result of the political peculiarities in their respective states.
The five aggrieved PDP governors, namely, Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), fell out with the party leadership after the emergence of Atiku Abubakar, as the party’s presidential standard bearer.
From the recent voter distribution summary, Rivers, Oyo and Benue States have 3.53million, 3.27million and 2.77millions votes, respectively, and, in that order, are ranked 4th, 6th and 9th of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in the chart made public by the INEC.
The five PDP governors had insisted that the National Chairman of the party, Ayu, resign from office to pave the way for a southerner since a northerner has emerged as the party’s candidate.
Sunday Vanguard gathered in Abuja, yesterday, that the governors, having realized that their choice of candidates may either promote or adversely affect their individual political fortunes, settled for candidates they believe would advance their chances.
Aside from Wike who is not contesting for any electoral position, his four other colleagues are contesting.
For example, Makinde is seeking re-election as governor in Oyo for a second term, the rest are seeking to install successors while also seeking Senate seats.
Makinde is being speculated to have given tacit support for the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu.
This position, it was also gathered, aligns with that of Wike who, after a recent meeting with Tinubu in Port Harcourt, declared Tinubu as a “man of character “ who has not changed his political party
Ortom has not hidden his preference for Obi.
However, both Wike and Ortom, who have been the most vocal in the criticism of the Ayu-led PDP, have since obtained court injunctions restraining the PDP from either suspending or expelling them.
Their action followed the decision of the party to expel some of their loyalists who are candidates in Saturday’s elections.
Prominent among those sanctioned include former Enugu State Governor and senator representing Enugu East, Chimarole Nnamani, as well as the son of a former Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose.
Ikpeazu, on his part, has been treading with caution as he has said the G5 agitation was a call for inclusiveness and not about the 2023 elections.
A top-ranking member of the party, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, told Sunday Vanguard, “Our internal issues are largely behind us.
“I can tell you, both Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu have agreed in principle to give Atiku the requisite support to win in their respective states and we have men on the ground to ensure victory for our party at all levels in all the five states Rivers inclusive.
“Apart from Wike and maybe Ortom, all the others have realised that they were misled into taking some of the actions they took, if not, why are people rushing to court to get restraining orders?”
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