FORMER governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jonah, has urged Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar to mend fences with Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike.
Jang made the appeal in River State on Saturday at the flag-off of the construction of Omagwa internal roads in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state, where he was a special guest.
The former governor, who led Plateau State between 2007 and 2015 under the platform of the PDP, said Atiku would brighten his chances of winning next year’s presidential election if he settled the rift between him and Wike.
Atiku, vice president under former President Olusegun Obasanjo (1999 – 2007), won the PDP presidential ticket in June, defeating Wike, who came second at the primary, and others aspirants.
The former vice president, who is running for the presidency for the fifth time since 1993, had participated in the primary against the call by many people in the Southern part of the country that another northerner should not succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner.
After picking the ticket, many party stalwarts advised him to pick Wike as his running mate, but he eventually settled for Delta State governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who did not participate in the primary.
Okowa, a two-time governor, hails from the South-South like Wike, who is also rounding off his second term next year.
Atiku’s decision to dump Wike for Okowa has since resulted in a crisis in the PDP.
Though chieftains in Wike’s camp have said he would remain in the PDP, his actions and comments in recent weeks have shown he may not work with Atiku as the campaigns for the election begins soon.
Addressing the Amangwa community and Rivers officials at the flag-off, Jang stressed the need for Atiku to settle the rift between him and Wike.
“Regardless of the outcome (of the party’s presidential primary), I want to encourage you (Wike) to continue to demonstrate leadership through your support for the Peoples Democratic Party, which has been an integral part of your maturity.
“When this party was in trouble, you came to its aid. You, with the help of some of us, were able to rescue this party on course for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And 90 per cent, if not more, of how we got this party back was your doing.
“You have kept faith with this party. You have supported everything that has made PDP what it is today. But I want to plead with you, don’t give up.
“I want to call on our presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to close ranks with all members, particularly members of your group. Doing this will guarantee victory in the 2023 general election.”
The ICIR reports that efforts by the PDP chieftains to resolve the impasse have yielded no fruit.
On Saturday, at the road flag-off, Wike slammed anyone who attended any meeting on his behalf in Abuja, though he did not refer to a reconciliation meeting.
Atiku will go to the poll with Bola Tinubu, candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Peter Obi, the Labour Party (LP) candidate, and others in the February 25, 2023 election.