Cracks in PDP may cost it the Osun Guber election

Cracks in PDP may cost it the Osun Guber election
Inauguration of the PDP National Campaign Council on Wednesday

Disaffection arising from the election of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP Presidential candidate and the selection of his running mate may cost the party victory in the Osun State Governorship election scheduled for July 16.

Evidence that the main opposition party is in disarray was very glaring on Wednesday when only two state Governors turned up for the inauguration of the PDP National Campaign Council for the Osun state Gubernatorial election. All the 13 Governors elected on PDP platform were expected to attend but only Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and Darius Ishaku of Taraba State showed up. 

Of the 11 Governors that were absent, the most significant were those of the only PDP governor in South West, Seyi Makinde of Oyo state and Douye Diri of Bayelsa State and Chairman of the 128-member Campaign Council who stayed away without any explanation.

A similar shambolic approach to campaign cost the party victory in the Ekiti state governorship election held on June 18. In that case of Eki state, the campaign Council that was constituted was not inaugurated for inexplicable reasons, leaving the state chapter of the party to fend for itself. Thus, PDP which was expected to give the ruling All Progressives Congress APC a big challenge, ended up a disappointing second runner-up.

Only one month later, history appears set to repeat itself. This time, the source of the problem is traceable to the fallout of the party's presidential primaries and the selection of Governor Okowa as running mate to Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential flagbearer.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State,  the first runner-up in the PDP Presidential primaries, was highly favoured to be chosen as Atiku's running mate. In fact, an Advisory Committee had reportedly overwhelmingly recommended him. Surprisingly, 24 hours later, Governor Okowa was announced as the running mate June 16.

Consequently, many of the party stakeholders, especially governors sympathetic to Wike’s plight, got angry and began to shun the party’s activities.
In addition to Makinde and Diri, other governors absent at Wednesday's inauguration include: Governor Wike, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto state, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Samuel Ortom of Benue, Godwin Obaseki of Edo, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa, and Bauchi state Governor Bala Mohammed.

Not all of them are Wike's supporters, though, as some of them, including Aminu Tambuwal, Udom Emmanuel and Bala Mohammed were also presidential aspirants who may not have yet recovered from their failure at the primaries. Those of them in this category may be nursing their wounds silently but Wike's supporters have not hidden their anger towards the party.

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state is one of them. In an interview on Arise Tv on Tuesday, he said God had not told him to work with Atiku on his presidential bid yet. He advised the Presidential candidate to go and meet Wike for reconciliation.

He said: "I am praying; if God directs me to support Atiku, why should I not do it? I expect him to reach out to Wike who came second and was denied the VP: 14 out of 17 said Wike should be VP and that is the democratic process but he chose Okowa.

“If we are in a democratic era and 14 say it should be Wike and he gave it to Okowa, I expect him to talk to Wike first and reach out to some of us for us to work together as a party,” 

Another supporter of Wike who is also blowing hot is Ayo Fayose, former Governor of Ekiti state. Fayose, who also contested against Atiku for the party's ticket, took to his official Twitter handle, @GovAyoFayose on Wednesday to champion the clamour for southern presidency, an obvious rejection of Atiku's candidacy.
The tweet read, “The PDP constitution provides for a rotational Presidency. Section 3(c) provides that the party shall pursue its aims and objectives by “adhering to the policy of the rotation & zoning of party & public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness.”

“The current President of Nigeria is a two-term Northern Presidency, thus implying that it must be a Southern Presidency in 2023 or nothing. Awa ‘South’ lo kan’ (It is the turn of the South). Nigerians should await details soon,” Fayose had tweet

Before Wike flew to Turkey, there were even speculations that he and members of his camp were considering the option of defecting from PDP in protest. While this might be an unlikely extreme decision to take, it points to the need for PDP to put its house in order to be able to secure victory in Osun in two weeks time and the Presidential election next year.