PRESIDENTIAL candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu has denied reports that he held a secret meeting with the G5 Governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in London, the United Kingdom (UK).
There were reports that Tinubu had struck a deal with the rebel PDP governors in return for their support for his presidential ambition.
The reports followed the latest London trip by the G5 governors, comprising Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), and Samuel Ortom (Benue).
Before the group jetted out to London, the leader of the G5, Wike, had declared that he would announce his preferred presidential candidate in January.
Reports of the meeting, and the alleged deal with Tinubu, had led to expectations that Wike’s preferred candidate will be Tinubu, the APC flagbearer.
But Tinubu has said he never held any meeting with the five governors in London.
Tinubu was also in London during the period the G5 visited the city. But his media team, in a statement released on Saturday, December 31, explained that he was in the British capital for a different reason.
The statement, signed by Tinubu’s spokesman, Tunde Rahman, described reports of the alleged meeting as ‘unsubstatiated’ and ‘figments of the writers’ imagination’.
“As usual with him (Tinubu) when the year is coming to an end to take time off his busy schedules, take a little rest and proceed to Saudi Arabia to observe Umrah (Lesser Hajj), Tinubu was in London during the week en route Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
“While in the United Kingdom, Tinubu noted some articles in some national newspapers in Nigeria, alleging a secret meeting was held in London between him and the G-5 governors who are members of the Peoples Democratic Party.
“These reports, to say the least, are not only in bad faith but also evil intentioned. They were published to advance the political interests of the writers and their sponsors,” parts of the statement read.
The statement noted that Tinubu is not bothered by the news reports nor by their sponsors “who are well known”.
“He is resolutely focused on his campaign objectives which are geared towards achieving victory in the upcoming presidential election in order to deliver the APC’s Action Plan aimed at giving Renewed Hope to our people in all facets of their lives,” the statement added.
The statement stressed that the APC candidate is entitled to meeting any political actor or stakeholder that is important to his campaign and plans for the country and that desires to engage with him.
Providing highlights of Tinubu’s program in London, the statement said: “The truth with respect to his present itinerary is as follows, Tinubu came to London on Boxing Day Monday, December 26, 2022, to spend a few days preparing for his trip to Saudi Arabia. After spending some time in London, he has now proceeded to Mecca where he is at present observing Umrah. He is scheduled to return to the country within the next two days to continue with the campaign.”
“We would like to use this opportunity to advise those writing unsubstantiated articles and peddling rumours about him to desist forthwith,” the statement warned.
Leader of the G5, Wike, on Saturday, also denied reports of the high profile London meeting.
Wike spoke about the alleged meeting while flagging-off the construction of Eneka-Igbo Etche road, in Rivers State.
“I am not someone who will go and see somebody and hide. Hide for who? Who is that person that will threaten me? They said Wike had a deal with so, so, and so person. Meanwhile, no video, no anything. And some of you waste time listening to such things. Don’t you know when I want to do something, I do it? You don’t need to speculate.
“They said we had a meeting with so and so. What is your problem? Assuming there was a meeting, has Atiku not been holding meetings with governors of APC? Ask him. As he is in Dubai, don’t we know what is going on? So, why do you bother about us G5, that you said you can win without us? Leave us alone.”
Reports of the G5 governors alleged deal with Tinubu had rattled the PDP, leading to speculations that the party was planning to expel the five governors. It is looking very likely that the governors are not going to support the party’s presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar in the 2023 general elections.
But vice presidential candidate of the party, Delta State governor Ifeanyi Okowa downplayed the position of the G5 Governors.
Speaking at a campaign rally in Delta State on December 30, Okowa said God, rather than the G5 governors, would determine Nigeria’s next President.
Okowa also claimed that God has said PDP will win the presidential election. “God has said it that we, the PDP, will win this election. Many things may be happening now and people may be asking what about the G-5 governors. These governors are our brothers; everybody is important. But what God has said will happen, nobody can change it. So even if some of them decide to support APC, some will still remain with us because there will be division among them.”
While G5 governors are yet to strike any deal with Tinubu or any other presidential candidate, it appears that they have made up their mind on Atiku.
In an apparent response to Okowa’s comment that God will give power to the PDP in 2023, Wike said God does not reward the wicked and treacherous.
“Don’t be treacherous in life because you want power. God will never give power to the wicked. Our hands are clean; we have not done anything wrong,” Wike said.
The Rivers State governor lost to Atiku in the PDP presidential primary election, and was subsequently overlooked in the selection of the running mate. Wike, who pushed for the zoning of the presidential ticket to the South, had been on the war path with Atiku and the PDP leadership since then. He and the other members of the G5 are demanding the removal of party’s national chairman Iyorchia Ayu, and his replacement with a southerner. They claim Ayu himself, and Atiku, had agreed that a southerner should become the national chairman if a northerner emerge as the party’s presidential candidate.
Atiku and Ayu have refused to concede to the demand.