Tuesday, October 4, 2022

PDP crisis worsens as Wike sues Atiku over 2023 presidential ticket

The Rivers governor has exhibited strained ties with both the party and its 2023 standard-bearer over the outcome of the May 28 national convention and presidential primary.

• August 11, 2022
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike and Atiku Abubakar
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike and Atiku Abubakar

Governor Nyesom Wike has filed a lawsuit against Atiku Abubakar over the 2023 presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Mr Wike filed the lawsuit alongside another PDP member Michael Ekamon, according to filings entered before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court. The applicants also joined the PDP, Governor Aminu Tambuwal and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the matter. 

The parties were served on July 1, and a PDP official responded to the originating summons on August 5 in Abuja. The lawsuit could complicate the main opposition party’s drive and message leading to the 2023 general elections — for a platform already bogged down by the upswing of Peter Obi and his Labour Party base.

It also comes as a reconciliation panel begins sitting to resolve a cold war between Messrs Abubakar and Wike over the outcome of the presidential primary and the selection of a running mate by Mr Abubakar. The crisis escalated last week when Mr Wike publicly accused Mr Abubakar of lying about the extent of the infighting while allegedly instigating attacks through Sule Lamido and others, calling them “attack dogs.”

Mr Wike has been seething over the convention outcome for several weeks, and his anger intensified after Mr Abubakar passed him over for Ifeanyi Okowa as the vice-presidential candidate. Mr Abubakar said competence and loyalty weighed heavily in his considerations for a running mate.

Mr Wike came second during the primary, scoring 237 votes to trail Mr Abubakar, who polled 371 votes from the total 767 votes cast at the convention ground in Abuja. The Rivers governor blamed his defeat on Mr Tambuwal’s decision to step down for Mr Abubakar at the last minute, describing the process as unfair — even though he did not argue that it violated the party’s standing rules. 

A spokesman for Mr Abubakar did not immediately return a request seeking comments about the suit. Messages sent to a PDP spokesman did not deliver on Thursday evening. But sources close to the former vice-president said he had a meeting with his legal team at Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja on Wednesday night, although it was unconfirmed whether Mr Wike’s lawsuit was among the issues discussed. 

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