•Atiku returns home from UK, takes charge
•Governors, ex-ministers, party leaders beg Wike to rescind decision
•Why governor was angry
There was panic in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over alleged threat by Governor Nyesom Wike to resign as the South-South coordinator for the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar.
The disquiet in the party was informed by the fact that Wike is central to PDP’s success in the South-South which the party had taken for granted as a stronghold.
It was learnt that governors, ex-ministers and top leaders of the party have been begging the governor to rescind his decision.
But indications showed that the governor was angry because he has been isolated in the scheme of things.
Instead of being on the driver’s seat like the case before the National Convention, the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, and the National Working Committee (NWC) defer more to Atiku, the National Leader of the party, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the Governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson who was one of the arrowheads of Atiku’s victory at the party’s convention.
It was learnt that unlike pre-convention era, the party leadership does not rely on Wike for funds any more.
The sudden financial independence of the party, through alternative sources in the party, has made Wike to know little of developments in PDP.
A few others, however, attributed Wike’s anger to the spill over of the party primaries in which his candidate, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal lost out.
Investigation by our correspondent showed that Atiku and many PDP leaders were caught unawares by Wike’s threat.
A top source said: “We were all shocked to read of his plans to quit as the South-South coordinator of PDP campaign for Atiku. All our leaders have been in panic since the news broke out. This development will be a setback if not quickly reversed.
“As I talk to you, most PDP governors, leaders, ex-ministers, ex-governors and leaders have been begging Wike to rescind his decision. This is what we have been doing today (Saturday).”
The source said PDP leaders also felt embarrassed because Wike has not raised any objection.
The source defended what he described as a “painstaking” composition of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC).
The source added: “Wike never complained about any issue; he has not expressed reservations on the composition of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) and he just came out with a bang.
“The PCC was representational of all the tendencies in the party. It took us much time to release the final list because of consultations. Atiku, who was in the custody of the list, was always tinkering with it after due consultations with the party hierarchy and leaders.
“Contrary to Wike’s claim, no director was brought from outside. All the directors were appointed from the National Working Committee.
“Let me give some examples. The Contact and Mobilisation Directorate is headed by the National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu; Kola Ologbondiyan is in charge of the directorate of Media and Publicity; and Finance is being managed by Abdullahi Maibasira, just to mention a few.
“Wike himself put the NWC in place with his boy, Uche Secondus as the national chairman. To avoid this type of rancour, the party restricted the choice of directors to NWC members. There is no basis for Wike’s complaint because he owns the present NWC of PDP.”
Findings, however, revealed that Wike’s grouses were consequences of the National Convention of the party in which his favourite candidate, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal lost out.
Also, the Rivers State governor was said to be aggrieved because he is fast losing his control of the PDP machinery.
A reliable source said: “Wike’s anger has to do with perceived gang up against him in the party to clip his wings. He only hid under alleged lack of consultations with him in constituting the PCC. He is just waking up to the reality that he has lost the grip of the party.
“Before the National Convention of the party in Port Harcourt, he was calling the shots in the party including the financing of PDP. For paying the piper, he was dictating the tunes. This wholesale control of PDP gave him the confidence that Tambuwal will emerge as PDP presidential candidate.
“Unknown to Wike, some party leaders decided to clip his wings. To jolt him, they toyed with the idea of changing Port Harcourt as the venue of the National Convention in order to gauge his mood. He became riotous to the extent of threatening the party and making allusions to Atiku.
“The second stage of the plot against Wike was the stoppage of the party’s leadership going cap in hand to him for funds. Some leaders of the party, including those who defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to PDP started financing the party covertly.
“The final stage was the emergence of Atiku as the presidential candidate of the party contrary to Wike’s permutations. He was devastated to the extent that he could not wait to listen to the acceptance speech of Atiku.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “The true position of the game in PDP is that the power equation in the party has changed. The party leadership does not source funds from him anymore and it defers mostly to Atiku, the National Leader of PDP, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the Chairman of the Reconciliation Committee, Governor Henry Seriake Dickson, who was central to the mobilisation of support for Atiku.”
A member of the Presidential Campaign Council said: “The challenge at hand is that Wike has not fully accepted the choice of Atiku. But he should know that God gives power and he also takes power from leaders.
“For instance, our evaluation so far revealed that it is only in Rivers State that government functionaries and party leaders do not work for Atiku because they are reading the body language of Wike. We are relying on a few friends and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to mobilise support. His threat to quit is just the icing on the cake.”
As at press time, the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku jetted back to Abuja from the United Kingdom to “take charge of the situation ahead of the beginning of his campaign on Monday in Sokoto.”
“Our candidate is just back from London to take charge of the situation, including Wike’s palaver,” a reliable source said.