Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has given a condition to support the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the 2023 election.
Wike, who was the runner-up in the recently held presidential primary of the PDP, has demanded to be paired with Atiku as vice-presidential candidate to give his support to the party’s flagbearer ahead of the February 25 poll.
At the keenly contested presidential primary held on May 28, the Rivers governor had scored 237 votes to emerge second position behind Atiku who polled 371 votes.
Atiku, a former vice president and serial presidential aspirant, was able to defeat Wike at the primary with the help of Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, who withdrew from the race at the last-minute and backed the Turakin Adamawa.
Although Atiku made a powerful impression by polling about 12 million votes in 2019 when he lost the presidential election to the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, analysts believe that he would need the support of all the aspirants who lost the PDP ticket to him to defeat Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), whom many have described as a political Gladiator within the Nigerian political system, at the polls.
It was gathered that as lobby for the VP slot is being intensified by various camps, Governor Wike during the week summoned PDP ward chairmen in Rivers to a meeting which also had in attendance federal and state lawmakers of the party in the state, and other party leaders.
Among those at the meeting was the House of Representatives member representing Khana/Gokana Federal Constituency, Dum Dekor, who is a close associate of the governor.
Wike, who was represented at the meeting, told the Rivers PDP members about his plan to meet with Atiku at the weekend to demand the VP slot as part of his condition to support the latter’s presidential bid.
A source at the meeting disclosed that Governor Wike, through his emissary, vowed not to support or campaign for Atiku if he is not made the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP.
The Rivers Governor, who is currently in Abuja with the intention to seal the deal with Atiku, told the PDP ward chairmen that his further directive to them would be determined by the outcome of his meeting with Atiku.
Earlier in the week, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) reminded all political parties that the names of their presidential and vice-presidential candidates must be submitted via its online portal on or before June 17, 2022.
“…the list of all Presidential and Governorship candidates must be accompanied by the names of their running mates (i.e. Vice Presidential and Deputy Governorship candidates) without which the nomination is invalid,” the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, had said at a meeting with the commission’s resident electoral commissioners (RECs) on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Wike’s lobby for the VP slot is coming about two months after he rejected the position, saying that he was not contesting for the PDP presidential ticket as a means to negotiate for the vice presidential slot.
“I’m not coming out to negotiate to be vice to anyone, I’m coming out to contest for the number one position in the country,” Wike had told some PDP leaders in Edo State ahead of the party’s presidential primary election.