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Running Mate: Atiku rejects move to replace Okowa with Wike

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Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has praised Atiku Abubakar on his 73rd birthday

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has rejected moves by some stakeholders to force him to change his running mate as part of a bid to unite the opposition party.

Governor Nyesom Wike and some other governors have threatened to leave the party following the announcement of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state as running mate to Atiku Abubakar last month.

Chronicle NG reported that a committee tasked with the responsibility of recommending the PDP’s vice presidential candidate agreed on Wike but the Abubakar decided to pick Okowa after he was handed a list of the top three picks by the committee.

The move by the PDP presidential candidate angered Wike who has since distanced himself from the party’s activities.

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The development has caused a great wedge in the party as some governors loyal to Wike who are unhappy with Atiku’s decision, shunned Okowa’s unveiling as vice presidential candidate.

An Atiku Abubakar associate who spoke to Daily Independent explained that the Wike camp made two proposals to the party’s flagbearer in the 2023 election.

Simeon Nwakaudu was Special Assistant on Electronic Media to Governor Nyesom Wike SERAP

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers

The first is the resignation of the party’s national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, who signed a pact with the governors that he will resign from office if the party’s presidential candidate emerges from the North.

The second, according to him, is that Atiku should honour the recommendation of the party and substitute Okowa for Wike.

“On the first proposal that Ayu should resign, his position was that sacking the national chairman will send the wrong signal of instability in the party, especially with the presidential election just seven months away.

Dr Iyorchia Ayu has emerged as the new PDP national chairman

Dr Iyorchia Ayu, PDP national chairman

“He wants Ayu to remain in office and oversee the 2023 general elections. Then he can resign if the party wins the presidential election as both the national chairman and president can’t be from the same zone.

“On the second proposal that Okowa’s name should be replaced, he flatly rejected that, saying as the presidential candidate, it is he who knows the right person who can enhance his chances in getting the needed votes in the South, who in this case is the Delta State governor.

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“On our part, we his associates believe that he can’t work with Wike as running mate because he was a direct opponent to him in the primary and he has his eyes firmly set on becoming president.

“There are several videos out there in public domain where he (Wike) said he is not interested in becoming deputy to anyone and all he wants is to become president”.

It would be recalled that the Wike camp boycotted the inauguration of the Osun governorship election campaign committee as only two out of the 13 governors in the party attended the event.

Also on Thursday, Wike ruled out the possibility of a one-on-one meeting with the presidential flag bearer.

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Rather, he said Atiku should engage his strategy team for peace talks on the terms proposed to the party, particularly the resignation of the national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.

Although the Board of Trustees (BoT) Chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, had suggested that Atiku should lead a reconciliation team to Wike, who also contested for the presidential ticket at the primary election, the governor indicated that he would rely on the advisory from his “strategy team”.

Wike’s supporters include Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Samuel Ortom (Benue); ex-Governors Hassan Dankwambo (Gombe), Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti) and Donald Duke (Cross River), among others.

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