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Atiku’s Running mate! Camps fight for VP slot as Wike, Okowa face panel today

The opposition party, PDP will on Thursday (today) screen nominees for the vice-presidential position.

A chieftain of the party, who confided to media correspondent on Wednesday, said contrary to reports, three candidates were shortlisted for the position, not one as reported by some newspapers.

According to him, those shortlisted include Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa;  his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike and the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel.

This came to the fore on Wednesday as supporters of  Okowa and  Wike disagreed over the party’s VP slot.

There were reports on Wednesday that a committee headed by the PDP Deputy Chairman, Ambassador Umaru Damagun, had on Tuesday nominated Wike as the running mate of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar when 13 out of the 17 members voted in favour of the Rivers State governor.

When contacted on Wednesday, the PDP spokesman, Debo Ologunagba, told News media that the nomination of Wike remained a rumour.

He stated, “The party is going through its processes. When it comes in a name, it will be announced. We don’t rely on rumour, we don’t work on that, in the next couple of hours or probably just before the expiration of the time, we will come out with a position and the name will be announced.”

But a member of the PDP advisory committee disclosed to one of our correspondents on Wednesday that three names were recommended by the panel.

According to the source, the three aspirants who were recommended would face the screening committee of the party before the party’s final decision would be made known to the public.

The source said, “The matter is not in the hands of Atiku yet, When the committee members are done with their job, they will report back to the leadership of the party.

“That committee recommended three people, not just one as is currently being speculated in the media.”

But according to the Coalition of South-South and South-East Youth Forum, Okowa remains the best man for vice-presidential slot.

The Coordinator of the group, Mr Eziwomano Ighoegwu, in an interview with News media, stated, “Governor Okowa is a man with proven records that can deliver peace and unity to Nigerians, adding that his good work of transforming the state and ensuring peaceful co-existence among indigenes and non-indigenes of the state, can be attested to.

“The decision of endorsing Okowa is to ensure that Atiku has a running mate who would support him in rescuing the country from the insecurity and social vices that have hit Nigeria under the Buhari–led administration.”

On their part, the Executive Assistant to the Governor on Communication, Mr Fred Oghenesivbe, and the Chairman of Warri South Local Government Area, Dr Tidi Michael, said Atiku needed a trustworthy, incorruptible, competent, wise, good listener, intelligent and experienced politician to be by his side as Vice President.

A top government official and chieftain of the party, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity,  said Okowa had the population of Christians on his side.

“When you talk of national structures, acceptability, give it to Okowa. The relationship between Okowa, CAN and PFN is very cordial compared to Wike.

“He can woo the Christian community for Atiku. He does not talk too much but thinks faster and his role in national assignments over the years gives him an edge over Wike.

“In terms of voters, there is not much difference between Delta and Rivers’ votes, so it is not an edge for Wike over Okowa. We are talking of acceptability among the six geopolitical zones,” he said

The Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, said the PDP would unveil Atiku’s running mate on Thursday, adding that the report on Wike’s nomination was a rumour.

Also, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, stated, “It is the party and the candidate that pick VP. It is not a contest or race. Nobody buys a form for it rather the party and the candidate take decision who to pick based on good performance.”

But a PDP and former Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Ogbonna Nwuke, said picking Governor Wike as vice presidential running mate would be the right choice.

Nwuke, in an interview with News media, said Atiku and Wike would make a good pair, as they both had political structures and leadership acumen.

He said, “If we were to look at what transpired during the PDP presidential primaries, we will all agree that Wike ran a strong race for a newcomer.

“Therefore, if Wike and Atiku’s political structures are brought together, it will be in the best interest of the PDP. We are happy that a great majority of people in the party believe that Wike indeed has what it takes to be the running mate to Atiku.

“We are aware a committee has been constituted and a final report will come and we are very hopeful.”

On his part, another party chieftain and Chairman of the Ikwerre Local Government Area, Samuel Nwanosike,  said the choice of Wike would be good for the party.

He said Kano, Lagos and Rivers are three important states anyone wishing to pilot the affairs of the country must win.

Nwanosike stated, “You must win Kano, Lagos and Rivers. If you look at our sister party, the APC that has brought us the worst state of insecurity and destruction of lives and property as well as the destruction of our resources because of their inability to understand the Nigerian nation and lack of capacity to deliver the dividends of democracy, you will see that the candidate they choose has a hold on Kano because of his relationship with the Governor, Ganduje.

“Because of that relationship, you can take it to the bank that the APC will win the Kano votes.

“In Lagos, you don’t need to be told that Tinubu has a stronghold there. So, the only state left is Rivers State. So if the PDP didn’t take this decision, the answer is what you and I know,” he stated.

Efforts to reach Mr Kelvin Ebiri, the Special Assistant on Media to Governor Wike, proved abortive as his mobile telephone was not connecting as of the time of filing this report.

In a related development, the PDP NWC led by its Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, on Wednesday received the report of the advisory committee.

The NWC was handed the report on Wednesday during a meeting with the Vice-President Advisory Committee in Abuja.

It was learnt that the party had presented the report to a committee headed by a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi, who would screen the three nominated candidates at the party’s headquarters on Thursday (today).

Meanwhile, Wike on Wednesday said he would not leave the PDP, saying a viral video suggesting that he was threatening to defect to the APC was manipulated.

Wike in a statement issued by his media aide, Kelvin Ebiri,  on Wednesday night said the video being circulated was intended to mislead members of the public.

Ebiri said the video was an excerpt of an old interview the governor granted a popular television station while reacting to the defection of the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi,  from the PDP to the APC.

He said the ‘manipulated video’ which was now being circulated as if it was new was the handiwork of unscrupulous persons and should be disregarded.

 The statement read, “Our attention has been drawn to a manipulated video circulating on social media, purporting that the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike,  intends to defect from the Peoples Democratic Party.

“It will be recalled that in June 2021, Governor Wike was interviewed on Arise Television, following the defection of Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi,  from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress.

“During the interview, Governor Wike while reacting to the reason given by Ebonyi State governor for his defection, dismissed it as untenable.

“The excerpt of the interview in circulation has been deliberately manipulated by some desperate and unscrupulous persons with obnoxious agenda.

“The intent of the video being circulated is intended to mislead the unsuspecting public, particularly members of the PDP.

“We, hereby urge the public to disregard the manipulated video.

“Governor Wike has repeatedly maintained that he will never under any circumstances defect from the PDP, which has offered him the platform to excel in his political career.

“We urge the public to ignore the distorted video. Those behind it are desperately wicked and intend to mislead the public. Governor Wike remains a faithful, committed member of the PDP and will never leave it for cancerous APC.”

Culled: The Punch Newspaper

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