The festering crisis which assumed a new dimension last month following the announcement of Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as the running mate to Atiku, started a few weeks after Iyorchia Ayu was elected National Chairman of the PDP.
According to The Sun, sources said that the widening gulf has now pitted six PDP governors, predominantly from the South, against Atiku’s presidential bid.
The source listed some of the governors as Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Samuel Ortom of Benue State; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State; Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Ishaku Darius of Taraba and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, as governors unwilling to support Atiku’s bid.
Confirming the bad blood in the rank and file of the party, Ortom had, during the week, said he might not work for the actualisation of Atiku’s presidential bid.
The governor had said, “All that was needed even before the pronouncement, after we did our recommendation, Wike would have been reached out to, he is a human being.
“This is a man who has built the party today in PDP. He has fought all night and all day to see that this party remains together. So, he would have been reached out to, to say that this is the decision we are taking and this is the reason we are taking this decision, and I think he would have understood.”
According to the PDP source, trouble started when Ayu was elected national chairman of the PDP.
The source said leaders of the party had agreed to zone the chairmanship of the PDP to the North, while the South, like the All Progressives Congress (APC), would produce the presidential candidate.
He said as soon as Ayu assumed office, he jettisoned the arrangement he inherited and started working for the emergence of Atiku, who is seen as his close political ally, to emerge as the candidate.
The source, who didn’t want to be named, said despite attempts by governors and other leaders of the party to prevail on Ayu to respect the agreement that he inherited, the former Senate President remained adamant.
“When it was obvious that Ayu wasn’t ready to listen and zone the presidential ticket to the South, governors and other leaders decided to leave the contest open. But they agreed to support a Southern aspirant, but people like Okowa, Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and other people, especially from the South-South, started working to ensure that a Northern candidate emerged,” he narrated.
Revealing further, the source said when Wike lost the primary election to Atiku, party leaders agreed that it would be best to pick him as the running mate to Atiku.
He revealed that the aforementioned governors met with Atiku and other leaders to pick Wike as a popular choice, but were ignored by Ayu and Atiku, who are believed to be micro-managed by some powerful Northern leaders.
Unable to have their way, he said the six governors decided not to play any active role during the presidential campaign of Atiku. He said though they may not defect to the APC, they are likely to sabotage the chances of the PDP from within.
“The governors can’t and won’t defect. They understand that clearly. If they defect now, their candidates can’t win elections. Some of them are gunning for a second term. But they’ll sabotage Atiku the same way PDP governors sabotaged President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.
“If you recall, many governors of the PDP, especially from the North, worked for the emergence of Buhari. They didn’t leave the PDP, but they sabotaged it from within. That’s what may play out in the case of Atiku.”