PDP in crisis following Abubakar’s snubbing of Wike

Nigeria

Published on Monday, 4 July 2022 Back to articles

Fury that Atiku Abubakar (L) snubbed River State’s powerful Governor Nyesom Wike (R)

A series of tweets by Ekiti State’s 2003-2006 and 2014-2028 governor, Ayo Fayose, have illustrated the divisions within Nigeria’s main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the selection of Delta State’s incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as Atiku Abubakar’s vice presidential running mate in 2023. Some PDP governors are now threatening not to support the party in next year’s presidential race because of this decision.

Rivers State’s Governor Nyesom Wike and his supporters are upset that Abubakar has not reached out to him after rejecting the recommendation of a party committee which unanimously proposed Wike for the role. Benue State’s Governor Samuel Ortom, who is prominent supporter of Wike, has urged Abubakar to reach out and pacify him over his choice of Okowa as his running mate. Ortom cautioned that, if he does not do so, Abubakar risks losing the backing of the majority of the PDP’s southern governors.

Abubakar has pledged to address the crisis that threatens the PDP’s electoral chances in 2023. While Wike reportedly rejected emissaries from Abubakar, the two men are certain to meet as soon as the latter, who has been out of the country, returns despite Wike’s flirting with major opposition party candidates.

Although Wike appears to be furious with the PDP for snubbing him for both the presidential and vice presidential positions, he is unlikely to leave the party. He will not want to join the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) where his local arch-rival Rotimi Amaechi — River State’s 2007-2015 governor and Nigeria’s 2019-2022 Minister of Transport — controls the state’s APC chapter. A better option would be to reconcile with the PDP and take his chances within the party.

Unless the party is able to reconcile its disputes, the PDP’s chances in Osun State’s 16 July gubernatorial elections may be affected by the current turmoil. Only two of the 13 PDP governors on the party’s election campaign council attended its inauguration. This obviously diminishes its prospect of winning what is widely viewed as a crucially important state election for both main parties. 

Meanwhile, the APC’s presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is close to selecting a running mate for the 2023 election before the 15 July deadline for him to announce his choice to replace his current temporary nominee. As Nigeria Politics & Security – 27.06.22 predicted, plans for an alliance between the Labour Party and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) appear to have failed because neither of their presidential candidates was prepared to stand done and be the other’s vice presidential running mate. The APC is also still facing the possibility that perhaps as many as 15 of its senators are considering defecting to the PDP which would give the latter a majority in the Senate.

This excerpt is taken from Nigeria Politics & Security, our weekly intelligence report on Nigeria. Click here to receive a free sample copy.

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