Three of the five aggrieved governors of the Peoples Democratic Party lost their bids to go to the Senate, DIRISU YAKUBU examines the implication of the loss for the governors and the members of the Integrity Group led by the outgoing Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike
For months, reconciliatory efforts were made by chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party to bring its aggrieved five governors back to its fold but to no avail. For Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers State and leader of the Integrity Group, together with his four colleagues, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Samuel Ortom of Benue State and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, there was no pathway to peace unless Iyorchia Ayu, the National Chairman of the PDP stepped aside before the elections.
The governors premised their anti-Ayu stand on the alleged violation of the PDP constitution which provides for fair distribution of elective and national offices between the North and South. They maintained that with Atiku Abubakar’s emergence as the party’s presidential candidate, Ayu’s continued chairmanship was no longer acceptable.
Following the collapse of peace talks between the two sides, Atiku kept Ayu and worked with loyal governors of the party for the presidential election which was held on February 25.
PDP chieftains including its immediate past National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, ex-National Secretary, Ibrahim Tsauri, former Governors Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Ibrahim Idris (Kogi) and a host of others had argued that it was in the interest of the rebellious governors to sheathe their swords and team up with Atiku.
Tsauri was particularly philosophical; he told our correspondent in an interview that “It is better for your enemy to win in your party than for your friend to win in a rival party.” As it were, the Wike-led group rebuffed the gestures and counsel of party faithful including their colleague governors.
In several meetings held home and abroad, Wike assured the PDP that lessons would be learnt the hard way, even as he vowed on behalf of others to reveal their adopted candidate before the election.
But unlike Wike who was not contesting any position, Makinde is seeking re-election while the trio of Ortom, Ikpeazu and Ugwuanyi were seeking seats in the Senate to represent their respective senatorial districts.
At the final collation of ballots however, the outgoing governors lost their elections, granting their enemies and political opponents the grounds to mock them.
Ortom lost to Titus Zam of the All Progressives Congress in the race for the Benue North-West Senatorial District. Zam, who served as Special Adviser to Governor Ortom on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs before his defection to the APC, polled a total of 143,151 votes to defeat Ortom who polled 106, 882 votes.
Like Ortom, Ugwuanyi had no answer to the Peter Obi-induced Labour Party hurricane that swept across the country in a spectacular fashion. His bid to represent Enugu North was frustrated by Okechukwu Ezea of the LP whose 104, 948 votes were far above the governor’s 46,948 votes.
The story was the same with Ikpeazu who lost to the All Progressives Grand Alliance candidate, Enyinnaya Abaribe, who garnered a total of 49, 903 votes to beat LP’s Chinedu Onyeizu and Ikpeazu as the duo secured 43, 903 and 28, 422 votes respectively.
Some analysts who spoke to our correspondent made some posers; were the governors not aware that Wike had little to lose in the game that saw them more as anti-party agents than believers in the PDP creed? Could they have won had they remained loyal to the Ayu-led National Working Committee without bickering? And didn’t they know it was difficult for people to vote for different parties in elections that held the same day and the same polling units at the same time, since they already took a stand not to support their party in the presidential election?
There seems to be no straight answers to these posers but Timothy Osadolor, the Deputy National Youth Leader of the PDP, is of the view that the outgoing governors failed to realise that they had a life outside their agitation for Ayu to go.
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