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By Our Correspondent

 Ahead of a break or mar meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) National Executive Committee (NEC) on Thursday, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, yesterday, upped the ante in his faceoff with the party’s national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, when he vowed to fight to end over-concentration of critical positions to the North. 

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike

 He further vowed not to leave his battle in PDP to God, as God has given him the wherewithal to crush his enemies in the party, insisting that he had the capacity to flog his opponents, whom he described as small boys, saying he won’t wait to “flog them with pepper.”

Wike, who spoke in tongues to the amusement of the crowd, while inaugurating the Osisioma Flyover built in Aba, by Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, said efforts by some of his party leaders to break his ranks and infiltrate his team to weaken their resolve would end in futility.

 According to the Rivers governor, PDP had distributed positions to its presidential flag-bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and former Senate President Bukola Saraki, but had nothing to offer Abia.

He said: “All those they are fighting are those who are projecting their party. They said Abia governor is a boy, Wike is a boy, Seyi (Makinde) is a boy, (Samuel) Ortom is a boy and Enugu governor is a boy, see what the boys are doing. They that are men should show us what they are doing.”

Responding when Ikpeazu suggested he should leave matters to God, he said: “I was on plane with him and we were discussing and he said, why won’t I leave this thing for God and I said what do you mean by that?

“Why are you overcrowding God? God has given me what it takes for me to crush these people, for me to crush my enemies and you are telling me I should leave it for God. No. God has so many things to do.

“Now that I know I have the capacity to flog these small boys and you want me to go and leave it for God. I am going to flog them pepper.”

The host governor, Ikpeazu, said 2023 elections would be about legacies and competencies, not mere politicking and promises.

Ikpeazu, who said he had shamed his critics with the inauguration of the Osisioma flyover and roads in Aba, said he would not allow any politician to use posters on his completed projects.

The flyover named ‘Okezuo Abia Flyover’ was initiated to ease traffic on the Osisioma junction, known for its traffic bottlenecks.

He said: “This is the time of politics. If you want to contest an election in Abia, you must show us what you’ve done before. Don’t paste posters on my flyover, streetlight and projects. Place your posters on your projects, not on my own projects.”

  According to the governor, he invited Wike to inaugurate the projects, because he is the father of flyovers in Nigeria and understands the value of an interchange.

THERE are fears that the Thursday NEC meeting of the party may not hold as it was gathered that the forum of PDP governors and Board of Trustees (BoT) are sharply divided over plans to replace Ayu with a Southerner. There are indications that the governors and other stakeholders pushing for Ayu’s removal may boycott NEC if they are not assured of his exit.

According to a source, Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Ikpeazu; Bala Mohammed (Bauchi) and Ortom (Benue) have lined up behind Wike to insist that Ayu must go while Governors Okowa (Delta); Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom); Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) and Douye Diri (Bayelsa) queued behind Atiku, while Taraba State governor, Darius Ishaku, has not taken a position yet.

Chairman of BoT, Walid Jubrin, as well as BoT life member, Chief Bode George, also supported the motion that Ayu should step down for a Southerner.

Efforts at reconciling the pro and anti-Ayu forces by Atiku broke down last week after Ayu described the governors opposed to his stay as ‘children’, who were not part of the formation of the party.

Wike jetted out to London at the weekend in company of his allied governors to explore other options ahead of the election. It was also learnt that Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and National Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Iyiola Omisore, met with Wike to explore areas of collaboration.

 BUT in a sudden twist, a source disclosed that Wike’s support base is getting weak as some governors are looking at other options out of the crises so as not to affect chances of the party in the general elections.

Ikpeazu had at the weekend affirmed that he will not leave the party, explaining that his alliance with Wike was to negotiate better deal for the Southeast.

However, the outcome of the NWC, Caucus and BoT meetings lined up from today (Tuesday) will determine if the NEC will hold and campaign council members ratified.

A political pressure group, Deltans Life Matter, has berated Wike over his demand for Ayu’s removal as one of the conditions for him to let go of his grievances after he lost the presidential primary to Atiku.

The group in a statement by its Coordinator, Moses Abeh, told the party to move on and not allow Wike or anyone be a distraction in the build up to the general elections.

Abeh said: “The PDP primary has come and gone and a winner has emerged. The winner, Atiku, has also selected his running mate. Yet, one person has continued to make a mountain out of a molehill.

“In spite of concerted efforts by the party to mend fences with him based on his perceived grievances, he has continued to carry on as though he is a political deity that must be begged or worshipped. At the top of his demands for reconciliation is that the national chairman of the party, Ayu, must go.

“We recall that years ago, he brought in Uche Secondus as national chairman and after a while plotted his removal because he perceived him as not doing his bidding enough. This was after Wike went after Markafi’s jugular and now it is Ayu. This Wike’s penchant to personalise the party is indeed the beginning of party dictatorship if not checked now.

“We strongly urge the PDP to move on and disallow anyone from becoming a distraction. Many PDP stalwarts have tried by talking to Wike to shelve his grievance and work for the success of the party but he has not said anything substantially different.

“With benefit of hindsight, Nigerians will agree that Wike’s uncompromising stance, his garrulity and his talkativeness would have made him an unsuitable Vice President.

“In contrast, Okowa is level-headed, brilliant, taciturn and politically savvy. The bottom line is that Atiku couldn’t have made a better choice of his running mate. It behooves the PDP to put all these temporary issues behind and work for the success of the election.

“We call on Wike to toe the honourable path of former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who entered his house quietly after losing the presidential primary of his party, than insulting his party leaders and those not on the same page with him publicly, daily,” he stated.

MEANWHILE, the ruling APC has thrown its weight behind the decision by its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to visit former President Goodluck Jonathan. This is as Tinubu maintained that the opposition party lacks the moral latitude to aspire to reclaim the exalted seat of the presidency in 2023.

APC in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Felix Morka, described Tinubu’s consultative visit to Jonathan as a strategic move for national unity and cohesion.

The party insists that the move remained worthy of commendation and emulation, adding the infantile outburst by the PDP on the development smacks of hypocrisy and folly.

The APC maintained that the PDP’s track record of 16 years of misrule, corruption and squandermania, remains indelible in the consciousness of Nigerians.

“Contrary to PDP’s laughable claim that the duo of Tinubu and his running mate, Kashim Shettima, are distancing themselves from President Buhari’s administration, it is on record that this government deftly managed two economic recessions and pulled the nation from the precipice, where PDP’s years of atrocious rule left it hanging precariously.

“Our party and its presidential candidate are seeking the mandate of Nigerians to consolidate on the foundation of restoration and greatness that has been laid across all sectors by this administration,” he said.

Also, Tinubu, yesterday, said the reason he is always ahead in his political game is borne out of the fact that he does not engage in talks, but only does more of the work. Tinubu, who made this assertion in a tweet via his verified official Twitter handle, likened himself to an eagle, which flies higher than a parrot, which only babbles. He tweeted: “I talk less, think more and do more. I am more of an eagle than a parrot. That is why I fly higher.”His tweet comes on the heels of a jab hurled at him by the PDP.

FORMER National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Dr. Olu Agunloye, has cautioned presidential candidates who feel their past achievements or the use of unnecessary propaganda would win the 2023 presidential election for them or their party, to shelve such mindset.

 He said the coming general elections, especially the presidential, would be decided strictly on issues and impeccable credentials of whoever is going to lead the country after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure from May 29 2023.

 Agunloye, who also reacted to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s declaration that he (Obasanjo) has no preferred candidate among the present crop of presidential flag-bearers said, “Obasanjo, after auditioning all the major candidates to then say he has no preferred one speaks volume on the situation in Nigeria and about the former president himself.”

 According to Agunloye, “first, let’s take the latter. The position by the former president shows that he remains a statesman that strives to be upright, bold and factual without caring whose ox is gored. Although many expected he would use the opportunity to endorse the candidature of his favourite, the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, but I was not expecting him to pick any of the candidates. This is because of my understanding of Obasanjo and his relentless goal for a model Nigeria.”

   Agunloye added that Obasanjo’s position has clearly buttressed the sentiment that none of the candidates has worked his way out yet up to the level to earn such an endorsement from Nigerians and especially from a two-time former president, who is fixated on how to bring Nigeria out of the woods into the league of developed nations.

   “I believe that Obasanjo has also factored in how deeply Nigeria has sunk into abysmal financial recklessness, the neck-breaking local and international debts, degradation of social and civic values and the stranglehold of gross insecurity, perhaps, induced by government itself. It is against this background, that we can begin to understand why it would be difficult for the statesman to come out and endorse any of the candidates at this point in time. This is understandable, as none of them looks okay, now. However, a suitable or appropriate candidate would emerge in the time to come. For now, the messianic one is yet to be fully recognisable.

 “The implication of Obasanjo’s conclusion is that being suitable or being appropriate or being ready to serve as the next President is not a matter of inheritance or previous records or anointing. That is, being a former vice president for years, or presidential contestant for umpteenth time or governor of state, which quivered under the magic wand or a being a former governor who bought petrol for government vehicles by himself are not sufficient to earn this position of the most suitable to be the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in current circumstances. This position would have to be earned.

 “The most appropriate candidate will have to emerge from the current uncertainties beclouded with fake news, outright lies, deceptions and intentional inducements to procure consciences and alter sensibilities.

 “This is where I completely concur with those who believe that those who are currently flaunting their previous bad and good records, real or fake endorsements by power brokers or hobnobbing with terrorists and bandits are not there yet. Obasanjo and many more serious minded citizens with great concerns for the unity, peace and prosperity of Nigeria have not seen them.”

 Agunloye said the worthy presidential candidate is expected to emerge from relative obscurity with freshness, lack of encumbrances, no records of previous government stealing or theft, no records of abuse of power, no records of small or large scale corruption.

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