Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar may set up his campaign organisation without resolving the protracted feud between him and the camp of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, it was learnt yesterday.
The former vice president is wooing key supporters of the governor to his camp, ahead of the campaign which kicks off on September 28.
The Rivers governor raised the alarm yesterday that his detractors in the party were after his life.
A source said Atiku is making a frantic effort to convince Benue State Governor Sam Ortom, who is a senatorial candidate, to dump Wike and team up with him.
However, party leaders, who are upset by the crisis, are urging the warring gladiators to sheathe their swords in the interest of the party.
Yesterday, no fewer than 17 PDP governorship candidates visited Wike in his home town, Rumueprikon, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State capital, to plead with him to embrace peace.
According to sources, Ortom may campaign for Atiku because he is also a candidate for next year’s poll.
There were also speculations that the party leadership may pick either Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; his Enugu State counterpart, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; or former Osun State Governor Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, as Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council.
But, Oyinlola has said that he was not aware of any offer either by Atiku or the party leadership.
A source confirmed Ortom’ willingness to work for the Atiku campaign machinery when campaign kicks off September 28.
The source, a member of the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC), said Ortom’s decision to campaign for Atiku was a matter of necessity.
He said: “In my last discussion with Governor Ortom, he confirmed to me that he will work for Atiku because he still recognises the PDP presidential candidate as his leader.
“Besides, the governor himself is contesting for Senate and he believes that it would be counter-productive to do otherwise because the National Assembly and the presidential elections will hold the same day.”
The party is also said to have nominated Ugwuanyi for DG of the PDP presidential campaign.
Ugwuanyi and Ortom are loyalists of Wike, who has been at daggers drawn with Atiku and the PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.
The Rivers governor has continued to insist on Ayu’s resignation as condition for peace in the party.
It was gathered that those promoting the Enugu governor have premised their argument on the need to incorporate the Wike camp in the campaign structure.
It was also gathered that stakeholders are of the opinion that his appointment as DG would give the Southeast a fair deal in the scheme of things.
However, his promoters are said to have raised fears that Ugwuanyi may not accept the offer if the Atiku camp failed to resolve its differences with Wike.
Sources also said Tambuwal was being tipped for the job because of his visibility during the last nationwide campaign for the PDP presidential ticket.
Tambuwal, who had joined the race for the ticket, stepped down for Atiku at the primary following pleas by prominent northern elders.
He had directed delegates from Sokoto and other states to cast their votes for Atiku.
Also, the Sokoto governor is said to have made the list on the strength of his position as the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum.
But, sources have interpreted his nomination to be a reward for stepping down for Atiku at the presidential primaries.
Wike, who came second to Atiku at the primary, has attributed his loss to Tambuwal’s directive to Sokoto delegates to vote for Atiku.
However, stakeholders are of the view that picking Tambuwal as DG could further deepen the raging controversy over North-South dichotomy in the party’s leadership structure.
The PDP is currently contending with the skewed leadership structure, with the presidential candidate, the national chairman and the chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) being of northern extraction.
Sources said Oyinlola’s promoters have said that his appointment would assuage the loss of the national chairmanship by the Southwest.
Oyinlola was reportedly the favourite of stakeholders for national chairman ahead of the October 2021 national convention before Wike camp altered the plan and picked Ayu.
Apparently piqued by the conspiracy against him, the 71-year-old former Osun governor had contested for the position of Deputy National Chairman (South), but lost to Mr. Taofeek Arapaja from Oyo State.
Arapaja was the party’s consensus candidate for the post at the convention where Ayu and other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) emerged through consensus.
Some say picking Oyinlola for the position would be an appropriate compensation for the humiliation he suffered at the last convention where Arapaja defeated him with a wide margin.
The three nominations will be tabled before NEC for consideration during its meeting tomorrow.
The party is billed to hold its NWC and National Caucus meetings today and decisions therefrom will form part of deliberation at NEC tomorrow.
Atiku yesterday announced the appointment of Delta State Commissioner for Information Charles Aniagwu as one of his spokesmen for the 2023 presidential campaign.
A statement by Atiku’s Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, said Aniagwu’s appointment took immediate effect.
Aniagwu, a former broadcast journalist with the African Independent Television (AIT), has two decades experience in the media before joining the services of the Delta State government in 2015.
He joins Senator Dino Melaye and Mr. Daniel Bwala who were appointed spokespersons for the Atiku campaign a few weeks ago.