•Absence of Atiku’s men stalls peace parley
The peace talks between the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike suffered a setback yesterday because Atiku’s negotiation team did not show up.
The hitch was attributed to a traditional event in Yola, Adamawa State capital, which Atiku attended.
The peace meeting was scheduled for Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State.
Also, PDP National Chairman Senator Iyorchia Ayu said he has no plan to resign.
He said he will not resign now or in the foreseeable future, having been given a four-year mandate to lead the opposition party.
There has been pressure on Ayu to resign in line with an alleged agreement he entered into, prior to his emergence, to step down if the presidential candidate emerged from the North.
Atiku won the party’s presidential ticket, with Wike coming second.
The Wike camp has insisted on the resignation of Ayu as a major condition to support Atiku in next year’s poll.
Also, Wike’s supporters have said that Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal should not be part of the reconciliation.
The camp also said that only a neutral panel should convene the meeting.
But Ayu, according to a tweet by his media aide, Simon Imobo-Tswam, said he will not resign.
The tweet reads: “The PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyiochia Ayu, has not resigned and has no plan of resigning.
“For clarity and emphasis, he was elected for a tenure of four years.”
Wike’s team, led by former Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko, was, however, angry that it did not get prior notice of the absence of Atiku’s camp.
Although Atiku’s camp rescheduled the negotiation meeting for Friday, Wike’s men were weighing options last night on whether or not to honour the date.
But Wike may take the final decision on the fate of the peace talks.
The Nation learnt that prior to the failed session in Port Harcourt, both groups had raised a seven-man team each to consider the terms for peace in PDP and collaboration for the 2023 poll.
Those in Atiku’s camp include Governor Ahmadu Fintiri (leader), Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), ex-Governor Liyel Imoke, Senator Ben Obi and ex-Governor Sule Lamido.
It was being speculated last night that a former governor of Kano State may join Atiku’s team, following his likely defection to PDP.
The Wike’s team comprises Mimiko (leader), former Senate President David Mark, ex–AGF and Minister of Justice Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), ex-Governor Hassan Dankwambo; ex-Governor Donald Duke, Nnenna Ukeje, one-time Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) boss Jide Adeniji, Sen. Olaka Nwogu and Mohammed Abubakar from Kano State.
Apart from the teams, both Atiku and Wike were expected to be on standby during the negotiation for consultation on terms agreeable to them.
Pioneer PDP National Publicity Secretary Senator Anietie Okon said only Wike can restore the party’s dignity and lead it to victory.
Also, a former federal legislator, Joseph Akinlaja, said PDP would have a big problem unless Wike is pacified.
It was gathered that since the traditional event would keep Atiku away, a shift of the session was mooted.
A source in Wike’s camp said: “We were all disappointed that the Atiku’s camp refused to show up after the two groups agreed on a common date.
There was no prior notice of absence, but we were later told that the meeting could not hold because Atiku went for a traditional ceremony in Yola.
“It shows that Atiku’s camp is not serious and it has demonstrated lack of interest in the peace talks. Their assumption is that Wike and his supporters are insignificant.
“We got to know from intelligence that they are feeling that they have secured Northern votes and we do not matter.
“We are all really angry that Atiku’s men can treat us like this. It is so unfortunate.”
An ally of Atiku admitted that the two groups had firmed up an arrangement to meet in Port Harcourt.
The source said: “Since Wike came to Abuja to meet Atiku the last time, we decided that our group will be in Port Harcourt for talks.
“But the event in Yola altered the arrangement. We learnt that since the visit was a homecoming for Atiku, Fintiri, who was to lead the negotiation, had to receive the PDP candidate. Apart from meeting with some emirs, Atiku also paid condolence visit to some families.”
Investigation showed that some forces in Atiku’s camp were shocked that the peace meeting did not hold.