The presidency bid of the Peoples Democratic Party flagbearer, Atiku Abubakar, appears to be sailing on troubled water due to an internal party crisis that is forcing some party bigwigs elsewhere ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
Atiku was said to have failed to honour the democratic choice in the selection of his running mate by picking Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State over Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State who was recommended by 14 out of 17 members of the PDP committee set up by the party’s National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu.
As a result, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has refused to declare support for Atiku who is his party man, citing the former vice president’s failure to reach out to Wike and some other members of the party who were left aggrieved over his running mate choice.
Speaking on Arise TV on Wednesday, Ortom said, “I told you I am praying. I have gone into hibernation and I am fasting and praying. So, in the end, if God directs me to support Atiku, why should I not do it? After all, he is my party man.
“But I am waiting for him (Atiku) because there are more things he is expected to do. I expected him to reach out to Wike who came second and he denied him the popular view of PDP members… I expect more explanation, I expect him to talk to Wike first, and I expect him to even reach out to some of us so that together we can work as a party.
“But the bottom line for me is that I have gone into hibernation and I am praying and at the end, whatever God directs me, I can assure you that I will do it.”
Subsequently, the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, openly withdrew his support for his party man who is a northerner by drumming support for a southern presidency bid
“The current President of Nigeria is a two-term northern Presidency, thus implying that it must be a southern Presidency in 2023 or nothing,” Fayose tweeted on Wednesday.
“Awa ‘South’ lo kan’. Nigerians should await details soon,” he added.
Meanwhile, the loyalists of Okowa and Wike disagreed over Ortom’s statement on how Atiku picked his running mate.
Okowa’s aides and loyalists, who spoke in separate interviews with The PUNCH, said the party had gone beyond the blame game and was focused on winning the 2023 elections.
Wike’s loyalists, in their reactions, backed Ortom and faulted the process that led to the choice of Okowa.