In what appears a fresh move aimed at resolving the festering rift with the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has sought the intervention of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Atiku, accompanied by his running mate, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, had, on Thursday night, paid a private visit to Jonathan at the ex-President’s Abuja residence.
Party sources observed Atiku to be deeply worried by Wike’s recent actions and utterances, which seek to undermine the PDP candidate and hurt his presidential bid.
Although details of the meeting were not made available to the media, a reliable source in the Atiku/Okowa Campaign told our correspondent on Friday that it was not impossible that Atiku indeed went to seek Jonathan’s intervention.
The source, who did not want his name in print because he was not mandated to speak to the media on the matter, said Atiku and his team believed that Jonathan could prevail on Wike to soft-pedal.
The source affirmed the strong ties between the ex-President and the Rivers State Governor, stressing that the latter has great respect for the former and also holds strong allegiance to him.
He said: “In case you didn’t know, Wike parted ways with his friend and predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi because Amaechi decided to work against Jonathan in the run up to the 2015 election.
“Even though it was Amaechi that nominated him for ministerial position under Jonathan, Wike chose to stick with Jonathan, ditching Amaechi in the process.
“So, outside their disagreement over local politics in Rivers State at the time, Amaechi’s irreconcilable differences with Jonathan accounted for the sustained animosity between him and Wike till now.”
It was also gathered that Jonathan may not be well disposed to wading into the Atiku-Wike rift bearing in mind the role Atiku played in frustrating his re-election bid in 2015.
Atiku and many other PDP bigwigs had dumped the PDP for the All Progressives Congress (APC) to work against Jonathan, leading to his defeat by General Muhammadu Buhari of the APC.
Even though Jonathan campaigned for candidate Atiku when he contested the 2019 presidential election on the platform of the PDP, the ex-President has stayed away from the activities of the party since then.
Many recall that Jonathan did not attend the September 28, 2022 inauguration of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Council even though he was invited to be the special guest of honour.
Speaking on the visit, Atiku’s Media Adviser, Mazi Paul Ibe, said the meeting had nothing to do with the rift between his principal and the Rivers State Governor.
Ibe, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone yesterday, said the visit was part of Atiku’s consultation with stakeholders in the pursuit of his presidential project.
Ibe said: “We all know that as a former President who was elected on the platform of the PDP, Dr. Jonathan is a statesman and a highly respected leader in the PDP.
“The visit was part of consultations on topical national issues like restructuring, which is one of the key programmes of Atiku’s action plan.
“He went to tap from Dr. Jonathan’s knowledge and experience because the former President had been there before.
“For instance, when we talk about restructuring, there are a number of options on the table. It may come through executive pronouncement, reforms or negotiation.
“That is why there must be broad consultation with relevant stakeholders across all geopolitical zones. I can assure you that there will be more of such consultations in the days and weeks ahead.”
Corroborating Ibe’s position, one of the spokespersons of the Atiku-Okowa Campaign, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, also said the meeting was part of ongoing consultations embarked upon by the PDP presidential candidate.
Aniagwu added that the consultation is not restricted to only PDP leaders, saying that relevant stakeholders, regardless of party affiliation, would also be consulted as time goes on.
The campaign spokesperson, however, did not rule out the probability of the Wike issue coming up during the meeting.
Aniagwu said: “What I can say is that it was a total package in the sense that they couldn’t have gone to meet with Jonathan because of one person. It’s part of ongoing consultation that will be extended to diverse stakeholders.”