The group of five governors (G-5) elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have travelled to the United Kingdom for another strategic meeting.
The group led by the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, has in continuation of its endless foreign trips, left the country for London in the early hours of yesterday morning.
The group which includes Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) had mobilised other party leaders including Chief Bode George, Prof Jerry Gana, etc. to form the ‘Integrity Group’ against Atiku.
According to a source close to Government House, Port Harcourt, all the governors made the trip.
The source noted that the governors would be back in Nigeria on December 30, for Wike to attend his scheduled meeting with Ogoni Council of Chiefs on December 31.
The Rivers State governor had ordered all traditional rulers in Ogoni, whether dead or alive, to attend the meeting, and that he would not tolerate any reason to be absent from the meeting. The group of governors it was gathered jetted off from the Port Harcourt International Airport.
A top party chieftain in the state who pleaded anonymity, confirmed the trip yesterday.
“Yes, they left for UK early yesterday morning, but I can’t say the reason for the trip,” the source said.
The G-5 governors have been calling for the resignation of the PDP’s National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, as their minimum condition for peace in the party and to join the presidential campaign council of the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Wike, the leader of the quartet, has refused to accept his defeat at the party’s presidential primary in good faith. A source said Wike and his team would use the opportunity of the London trip discuss the way forward on the crisis rocking the party while in London.
The source added that from London, the group of governors would also visit Madrid, Spain.
Top on the agenda for the meeting is who they would support for president in the 2023 election.
It was gathered baring any last minute change in political permutations, the group may have concluded plans to endorse Mr. Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party.
Obi with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke and four of the G5 governors met in London last August.
Last week, Wike said he would reveal the presidential candidate to mobilise votes for in the forthcoming 2023 general elections in January.
Speaking at the inauguration of Rumuokwurusi-Elimgbu Flyover in Rumuokwurusi town in Obio-Akpor on December 22, Wike had said he would undertake a nationwide campaign tour to tell Nigerians the most preferred presidential candidate to cast their votes for in the forthcoming election.
According to him, Nigerians need a reliable candidate they can trust to deliver the needed national transformation.
“So, from January next year, I will campaign to my people on whom to vote for. All of you, who have been in suspense, wait, January is coming. Not only will I tell them where they will vote, I will move from state to state and tell them why they should vote for the people I think they should vote for,” he added. THISDAY reliably gathered that the group may have finally settled for Obi.
A source privy to the discussions said the decision to endorse Obi came after long and exhaustive deliberations.
“One thing is certain. The group will never endorse Atiku. Their differences are irreconcilable. Atiku knows that and has moved on,” the source who pleaded anonymity said.
“It has taken them (G5 governors) this long because there was initially no consensus other than their anti-Atiku stance. Governor Seyi Makinde was walking a tight rope considering the fact that he is only a first term governor who is seeking re-election and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is Yoruba.
“But the other four governors don’t have the same worries and taking a decision was not difficult for them.”
The source also said the coming on board of other leaders of the party like George, Gana, former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, former governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke, amongst others contributed a lot.
“Beyond the immediate grievance of the G5 governors, some of these other party leaders still hold Atiku and the breakaway faction for the party’s loss of power in 2015. They have still not forgiving him because they believe that his victory will be a reward for treachery and brazen anti-party activities.some influential past leaders.
“It is no longer a secret that some of the country’s past leaders including former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan have signed onto the Obi presidential project.
“There are also indications that others like Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Theophilus Danjuma are sympathetic.
“The thinking is that Nigeria is in a deep hole and they don’t want people who will continue digging to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari. So, there is a near consensus that Obi approximates the kind of leadership that Nigeria needs at the moment.
“Even those that are not talking are working seriously behind the scene, mobilising and reaching out to others who are yet to be fully convinced.
“Most of the G5 governors and even the other party leaders were mentored by these former presidents and they are watching their body language,” our source further said.
On Sunday, Ortom let the cat out of the bag, literally, when he urged Nigerians to vote for Peter Obi in 2023.
According to him, Obi has the capacity to deliver Nigeria from its challenges adding that he would have canvassed for the LP flag-bearer if he was not in the PDP.
He disclosed this during a courtesy visit by Obi to the State Capital, Makurdi, where he spent his Christmas with Internally Displaced Persons (PWDs) in the State.
“Several presidential candidates have come here, and none of them has chosen to visit those IDPs camps and look at their plight to see how they are doing and give them hope that when they win, they will bring them succour, help, and hope.
“For you to have chosen to visit the IDPs on a Christmas day that you should be celebrating with your family, for me as a Christian, I say God will bless you and your aspirations. My prayer is that God will bless your aspiration to be the president of this country.Because I have seen capacity, faith, and hope, and I have seen someone who can bring the required equity, justice, and fairness that I have been pursuing since I became governor in 2015.
“If I were not in PDP, I would have been following you all over the place to canvass and vote for you.
“But, because I’m in PDP, I’m telling Nigerians that this man can help deliver this country from its challenges,” Ortom said.