Cracks Widen Among G-5 Governors over Choice of Presidential Candidate

* PDP expulsion threat: Makinde, Ugwuanyi, Ikpeazu, Ortom risk losing their tickets

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Despite media reports that Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has reached an agreement with his fellow governors in the Integrity group on their choice of the presidential candidate to support, THISDAY learnt yesterday that there was no unanimity among the governors.
According reliable sources, due to the disagreement among the G-5 governors whose other members are Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Wike angrily left his colleagues in London and headed for Madrid, Spain.

More importantly, the threat by the party to expel them if they move to endorse any presidential candidate other than Atiku, may have jolted the recalcitrant group to pause. Should they be expelled by their party, those seeking senatorial seats and the Oyo State governor who is seeking re-election, will lose the right to be on the ballot as they will no longer be candidates of the party going into the elections. Since, there is no provision for independent candidate in the electoral system.

Invariably, should the party carry out its expulsion threat, all those running for positions on the platform of the PDP will cease to be candidates. And should they proceed to participate in the election, their opponents can easily file action in court to challenege the validity of their participation in the elections.
After the expulsion, the party  will write to INEC notifying the electoral body that it does not have any candidate for those positions, which will amount to removing the carpet under their feets.
There were media reports that the G-5 governors had agreed to announce their choice presidential candidate on January 5, 2023, but available information revealed the contrary.

THISDAY checks however revealed that the governors could not reach such a unanimous position on who among the presidential candidates to support in the February 25 presidential election, due to the various political interests of the governors.
A competent source told THISDAY that while it was true that Makinde and Wike shared the same view that they should support the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu; Ikpeazu and Ortom differed as they preferred a different candidate.
According to reliable sources, this was apparently due to the earlier deal with Makinde and Tinubu that they should support each other’s ambition in the coming elections.

The deal was that Makinde should support Tinubu’s presidential ambition and in return, Tinubu would support Makinde’s re-election bid.
The source told THISDAY that Makinde had made Wike to buy into the deal, but other G-5 governors with senatorial ambitions were reluctant to go with the choice of Tinubu, because of their senatorial interest.
The main grouse of Makinde was that he was replaced with the Osun State governor, Ademola Adekeke as the PDP presidential Council leader in the South-west, a position, he had earlier rejected.

Ortom, Ikpeazu and Ugwuanyi are contesting senatorial elections in their respective states, whereas Wike has no immediate political interest except for his associates in Rivers state.
As part of their disagreement, Ortom and Ikpeazu told Wike that it was better they remain neutral as openly supporting any other presidential candidate may spell doom for them.

Ortom even suggested that they impress it that the National chairman, Iyorcha Ayu be made to sign an undertaking to resign after the presidential election, whether the PDP wins or losses the election.
According to the source, it was because of this that Wike left London angrily for Madrid, Spain, to watch the opening of the Spanish league on Saturday.
A group known as the “Restructuring Campaign,” yesterday, Tweeted on the matter, revealing that: “G5 disagree in London. Wike walks out as Ikpeazu and Ortom suggest they remain neutral as supporting any other candidate except their party’s candidate will spell doom for them in PDP. Ortom suggests they allow Ayu sign to resign immediately after the elections win or loss

“Wike has even abandoned them in London in anger for Madrid to watch Real Madrid opening League match. The center can no longer hold.”
THISDAY reported yesterday that the PDP was considering expelling members of the G-5 Governors, if they go ahead and announce their support for any presidential candidate other than Atiku.
A reliable source, who is a member of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, who disclosed this to THISDAY, had said another measure being considered by the leadership of the main opposition party was the dissolution of the party structures in the respective states of the G-5 governors and establish caretaker committees to run the affairs of the party in the five states.

According to the source who pleaded to remain anonymous, taking such action would also affect the political ambition of Makinde, who is seeking re-election as governor as well as Okezie, Ortom and Ikpeazu, who all contesting for the Senatorial seats in their respective states.
“Dissolving the party structure will also affect their loyalists who are contesting for different positions under the PDP in Abia, Rivers, Oyo, Benue and Enugu,” the source added.

The governors elected on the platform of the PDP had in what many had described as another jamboree, on Monday, travelled to the United Kingdom for another strategic meeting.
The governors led by Wike have been calling for the resignation of the PDP’s National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, as their minimum condition for peace in the party and to join the presidential campaign council of the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku. Wike has refused to accept his defeat at the party’s presidential primary in good faith.
Since he lost the primary and even the vice presidential slot, Wike has utilised the enormous resources at his disposal to mobilise four other governors to fabricate crisis in the party.

The aggrieved governors have been working against their party for months since Wike failed to clinch the vice presidential running mate to Atiku Abubakar. They have been insisting that Iyorcha Ayu, the national chairman of their party must quit for a Southerner to take his place, stating that it was the irreducible minimum for peace to reign in the party.

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