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As APC Unites Behind Tinubu, PDP Struggles with Wike

As APC Unites Behind Tinubu, PDP Struggles with Wike

*Fintri-led reconciliatory team meets Rivers gov’s camp tomorrow 

*Imoke, Waziri, Jegede among Ex-VP’s team 

*Duke, Mimiko, former AGF Adoke, Gana lead Wike’s camp 

*Ayu-must-go agitation persists

Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

With the appointment of the Governor of Plateau State, Mr Simon Lalong as the Director General of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the leaders of the ruling party have united behind the party’s presidential candidate, Senator Bola Tinubu.

In contrast to the APC’s united house, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has continued to be bogged down by the Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Wike, whose demands have stalled the efforts of the main opposition party to reconcile its aggrieved members.

However, the peace efforts by the PDP to reconcile its aggrieved members have received a boost as the reconciliatory team led by the Governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Fintri, will tomorrow meet with the camp of the Rivers State governor.
This is coming as the agitation for the resignation of the National Chairman of the party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu has persisted despite the ongoing efforts to reconcile all aggrieved parties.

With the appointment of Lalong as the Director General of the APC’s Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), the members and leaders of the ruling party have closed ranks ahead of the 2023 general election.
The controversy generated by the APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket also appears to have died down after Lalong apologised to the Catholic Church for his recent reference to Pope Francis while defending his appointment as the Director General of the council. In a letter addressed to the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Lalong admitted that it was an error on his part to have linked the Pope with Nigeria’s politics.

He begged for forgiveness and understanding of the Catholic Church through the Bishop’s conference.
However, with the loyalists of some key presidential aspirants like Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; former Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi and the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan missing from the APC’s presidential campaign team, there were speculations that all was not well with the ruling party.
But the Director of Media and Communications, Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Mr Bayo Onanuga, told THISDAY that the report of infighting within the team was untrue.

He also debunked claims that the campaign council was not all-inclusive, adding that the governor of Plateau State, the Director General of the PCC, Lalong and the Spokesperson of the campaign council and the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo were Amaechi’s loyalists.
Onanuga pointed out that Lalong coordinated Amaechi’s campaign among governors during the presidential primary of the party.
He insisted that everyone was carried along, adding that the presidential candidate of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu has mended fences with everyone and his co-contestants.

Onanuga said: “Lalong is from Amaechi, to start with. The Osinbajo new media team is working with the Tinubu-Shettima group. Which infighting are they talking about?” he queried.
On his part, the Convener of the Osinbajo Support Movement, Mr Badmus Olawale, stated that only unity can lead the party to victory in the forthcoming elections.

He noted that the vice president had asked his followers to support the party, adding however that the team set up was not complete yet and has not been inaugurated.
Olawale said: “As we all know, His Excellency, Yemi Osinbajo went through surgery and he is just getting back to work. Asiwaju reserves the right to put in place his team and win or lose, they will have to be held accountable.

“Mr Vice President has asked us, his followers, to support the party as we maintain our structure, which we are doing. Only unity can lead us to victory.
“The loss of Osun State governorship election is still fresh and I hope going forward, the party and the candidate will do the needful. I want to believe the team set-up is not complete yet and has not been inaugurated. Let’s wait till then.”
The former Deputy Publicity Secretary of the party, Yekini Nabena, also argued that the campaign council is all-inclusive.
He explained that both Lalong and Keyamo are Amaechi’s loyalists.

Nabena stated: “Is the campaign DG not Ameachi’s loyalist?  Is Keyamo not Ameachi’s loyalist, what are you talking about?
“Everybody is included. It is not a problem. When you say VP’s loyalists, you know it is a problem here. Why am I saying it is a problem, VP is Tinubu’s loyalist; so, who are his loyalists that are different from Tinubu’s people? So, VP is also Tinubu’s boy. If people are going to work for him, it is still the same structure; he does not have his own structure before he came to the government as a VP,” he explained.

Lalong Inspects Campaign Headquarters, Meets Tinubu

Meanwhile, Lalong, has officially kick-started his work as he visited the headquarters of the Tinubu/Shettima Campaign Office to inspect the facility and meet some of the staff.
He was received by the Secretary of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Hon. James Faleke and Director of Administration, Hadiza Bala Usman.
Lalong’s Director of Press and Public Affairs, Makut Macham, in a statement at the weekend in Jos, said the governor was taken around the building and also ushered into his office, after which “he welcomed the APC presidential candidate, Senator Bola Tinubu who arrived at the office before they went in for a closed-door meeting.”

He added: “Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the APC Campaign DG and Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila also held another meeting with the Speakers of the state Houses of Assembly.”

Fintri-led Reconciliatory Team Meets Rivers Gov’s Camp Tomorrow

As part of his moves to resolve the feud between him and Wike, the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, had appointed Fintri to lead his reconciliatory team.
 A former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, has however cried out that some forces within and outside the main opposition party are frustrating the moves to reconcile the former vice president with the Rivers State governor.

Fintri yesterday told journalists at the Yola International Airport, that he was appointed the chairman of the reconciliation committee set up by the former vice president.
The governor, who disclosed that he seemed the right man for the assignment, was optimistic that with God’s help, he could reach a truce between Atiku and Wike.

THISDAY gathered that as part of his assignment, Fintiri will tomorrow host a reconciliatory meeting between the supporters of Atiku and Wike.
The Adamawa State governor had last week met with his Rivers State counterpart to prepare grounds for the reconciliation.
The meeting, which will take place in Abuja, will be attended by six members each from Atiku and Wike’s camps.
The six members are to represent the six geo-political zones in the country.

Among the six members, who will represent Atiku’s camp are Fintiri; a former Minister of Police Affairs, Adamu Waziri; former governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke and a former PDP governorship candidate in Ondo State, Mr Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), among three others, whose names could not be ascertained as at press time.

THISDAY also gathered that Wike’s camp will be represented at the meeting by a former Attorney General of the Federation, and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke; former Minister of Information, Gana; former governor of Ondo State, Mr Olusegun Mimiko and former Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwanbo, among others.

However, it was also learnt that Atiku and Wike will not attend the meeting.
At the end of the first meeting between Wike and members of his camp, Gana had in a one-paragraph communiqué said: “As far as we are concerned, we are open for discussion. We want everything to be put on the table. We remain in the party. We are not going anywhere; we want to be seen as equal stakeholders”.
A source privy to the reconciliation efforts told THISDAY that the agitation for Ayu to resign has continued unabated.

According to him, the aggrieved camp has continued to insist that the North cannot hold the office of the national chairman and presidential candidate of the party at the same time. The camp also accused Ayu of being biased against Wike.
The call for the sack of Ayu is one of the issues stalling the announcement of members of the PDP presidential campaign team, as the party wants an all-inclusive campaign council.
PDP had to cancel its national caucus and National Caucus Executive Committee (NEC) meeting last week to ensure a total reconciliation of all aggrieved members of the party.

The NEC was put off because of the fear that the members may pass a vote of no confidence on Ayu.
However, the embattled national chairman of the PDP experienced respite as the party’s House of Representatives caucus passed a vote of confidence on him.
The position of the PDP House of Representatives was disclosed by the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu.
Speaking at the International Youth Day seminar hosted by the PDP Youths, Elumelu said that the caucus has been hearing calls for the dissolution of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.

Meanwhile, it was reliably gathered that the presidential candidate of the PDP met with a team of lawyers last week at the Yar’Adua Conference Centre in Abuja.
The purpose of the meeting was not known, but a source close to the former vice president told THISDAY that “Atiku Abubakar met with the PDP’s National Legal Adviser – Kamaldeen Ajibade who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), former Minister of Special Duties, Taminu Turaki (SAN),  and Gordy Uche, also a  senior advocate.

THISDAY gathered that the meeting may not be unconnected to the suit pending against Atiku and the party, which will be heard on Tuesday, August 16.
One of the spokespersons of the Atiku presidential campaign, Senator Dino Melaye, had said that those behind the suit would be known on the date of the hearing.

Forces Frustrating Moves to Reconcile Former VP and Rivers Gov, Gana Cries Out

Meanwhile, Gana has raised the alarm that forces within and outside the PDP are frustrating the moves to reconcile Atiku and Wike.
Gana, who is also a member of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the party, said in a statement he issued to newsmen in Abuja, that Wike was not challenging the outcome of the PDP presidential primary.

“News in the media that Wike has commenced legal proceedings, challenging the outcome of the 2022 PDP Presidential Primary, is false.
“We unequivocally state that Wike has not and will not challenge the outcome of the just concluded PDP presidential primaries in court.
”He has long moved beyond such an action to focus on matters of how best to ensure victory for the PDP in the forthcoming elections.”
Gana also described as false reports alleging Wike had instructed the removal of the ceremonial PDP flags and insignia from the Government House and Governor’s Office.

He said: “This again is totally false and misleading. The Rivers State Governor never gave such instructions.
“It appears that some forces within and outside the party are expressly opposed to the reconciliation moves between Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Wike.
“Such malicious efforts will surely fail by the grace of God,” Gana explained.

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