ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU writes on whether or not G5 Governors who have refused to campaign for their party’s presidential candidate, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, can stop him from succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari
No end in sight to the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). As the Group of five governors, Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) now know as the G5 insisted that there is no going back on the decision not to be part of the campaign of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
All was well with the PDP until Atiku emerged as the party’s presidential candidate and Delta state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate on the 16th of June, 2022.
Consequently, governors and other party stakeholders that were not happy with the former Vice President’s choice fueled the crisis with their actions and utterances.
The crisis rocking the nation’s main opposition party (PDP) deepened in June as Governor Wike’s G5 team pulled out of the campaign council of the party’s presidential candidate.
They insisted that the National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, must resign for them to rescind their decision.
They also insisted that the position must come to the South for balance, justice, and equity in the party, hence they will not play any role in the Atiku campaign council.
Atiku’s reconciliatory moves failed
After the effort of several party leaders and committees failed to reconcile the aggrieved members of the PDP, the PDP presidential candidate moved on with his campaign without the G5 Governors and other aggrieved parties faithful.
Explaining his position, Atiku said he could not force Senator Iyorchia Ayu to resign as national chairman.
He stated, “If Dr. Ayu is to be removed from office, it must be done in accordance with the laws that set out the basis for such removal. In any event, you will all recall that the very body that is empowered by law to initiate this removal from office has already passed a vote of confidence in him”.
Atiku noted that the issue at hand which should be of concern to all lovers of Nigeria is that “now, our nation is currently in the throes of a multi-dimensional crisis encompassing insecurity, economic meltdown, disunity, and mutual mistrust and educational dislocations, to mention a few.
“I have a plan to address these issues and I have, graciously, been given the ticket to lead our great party in next year’s presidential elections, with the singular mandate to come and lead the efforts to cure these ills”.
Since the commencement of the presidential campaigns on 28th September 2022, Atiku has visited many states for campaigns and stakeholders meeting, the G5 and its members have continued to stay out of the former Vice President’s activities and they do not invite or recognize him in theirs.
G5 move to spoil Atiku’s chances
In the last few days, there had been a series of moves by the G5 under Wike’s leadership to spoil Atiku’s chances. While some reported that they were likely going to work for the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, others also said they might work for the Labor Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, in the forthcoming presidential election.
In a demonstration of their resolve to work for another presidential candidate other than Atiku, Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, on Tuesday endorsed Obi for president.
Though the G5 has not formally endorsed any candidate as a group, it is clear that they are not working for Atiku nor PDP’s emergence in the presidential election. However, can they through their actions or functions stop Atiku?
Is history about to be re-enacted?
Before examining the implications and understanding how the G5 can stop Atiku, it is important to dispense with two things. The first is that before G5-PDP, there were G7-PDP and nPDP.
Recall that in 2013, the PDP governors of Adamawa, Jigawa, Kano, Kwara, Niger, Rivers, and Sokoto were also against their party’s leadership and a sitting president produced by the party, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. They referred to themselves as the G7. They joined forces with others to create a new faction of the PDP, and framed it as the new PDP (nPDP).
Alongside Atiku, Sokoto state governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal (who was then the Speaker of the House of Representatives), immediate past President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and others, five of the governors eventually moved into APC after the merger of nPDP with APC. They together defeated and unseated President Jonathan of the PDP.
Many Nigerians recalled that something similar to what the G-5 is doing had happened before. From their observations, “the only difference is that while the G-7 left and formed nPDP to merged with APC, the G-5 refused to leave the party.
Political pundits believe that like the G-7 who in a way contributed to APC’s victory and the defeat of President Jonathan and the PDP in the 2015 presidential election, G-5 may also spoil Atiku’s chances to contribute to the success of the candidate of either APC or LP.
Other political observers who understand Nigeria politics and the G- 5 governors working said given the oversized influence of state governors in Nigeria politics, the G5 control states strategically important to an increasingly weakened PDP. As it stands today PDP controls 14 states—nine in the south and five in the north. So, Wike’s group represents 35% of the states presently controlled by PDP.
It is also important to note that in terms of registered voters that are expected to participate in the 2023 election, Rivers, Oyo and Benue states are among the states with the highest number of registered voters with cumulatively over 10 million prospective voters. With Obi from South East, Tinubu from South West and considering the constitutional requirement of a majority of the vote and over 25% of the vote in at least 24 of the 36 states, Atiku needs them to move in resources and mobilise voters in their respective states for him to win the presidential election conveniently.
However, other political pundits believe that with innovation by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Electoral Act the influence of the governors has been reduced. They added that with Obi in the race, Enugu and Abia states governors cannot guarantee Atiku of their states. And Makinde cannot deliver Oyo state to PDP, with Tinubu as an APC candidate.
So, a few pundits believe they can not stop Atiku. While others from the above analysis concluded that it will be difficult for Atiku to win without Wike and other members of G-5.