From G5 To Integrity: The Choices Before The ‘Rebel’ Governors, By Tunde Abatan

From G5 To Integrity: The Choices Before The ‘Rebel’ Governors, By Tunde Abatan
Since the beginning of their protest meetings, pronouncements and declarations after the denial of vice presidential ticket to Governor Nyesom Wike, by People’s Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, the five governors in the now rechristened Integrity group, have left no one in doubt about the seriousness of their project.
They have met within and outside the shores of Nigeria several times and on each of occasion, they reiterated their resolve to bend the PDP leadership to accede to their request- that their continued commitment to the  Atiku’s presidential project is hinged on the party asking incumbent National Chairman Iyorchia Ayu to step aside to ensure power balancing and fairness in the country.
The project which to all intent and purpose is  entered around Nigeria’s North -South political dichotomy has further deepen the crisis of intra -party relations within the opposition party more so when the ruling party they strive to replace has carefully avoided the pitfall by picking President Buhari’s successor from the South West part of the country.
Wike, the leader of the group of five which consist Seyi Makinde of Oyo state, Samuel Ortom of Benue state, a state which has suffered more from Fulani herdsmen torment of last four years, Enugu state Ifeanyi Ogwuanyi and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state, from all intent and purpose does not appear as keen on leaving the party even though his body language suggests so.
It is clear that the ‘rebel’ governors three of which are returning to office are also not talking of decamping but wanted to stay within and correct the anomaly of PDP controlling both the party and executive in the likelihood of it winning the Presidential seat.
Though Governors Ortom and Wike are second term governors, they  are not only intent on getting the PDP to ask Ayu to resign and pave way for a Southern Chairman, they are also oblivious of retaining their state through their surrogates and retain their relevance should in case the ruling APC through Tinubu should win the election.
In other words, their continuous pressures is predicated on their working towards being a strong power block should the ruling party of which they have been fraternizing with since the commencement of their factional body retain power.
Hence, it is apparent that having pushed the campaign and movement for a power balancing in PDP too far without any recompense on the party national leadership, their decision to expand the scope of their camp within the party is aimed at widening the scope of their influence and been able to extract a firmer commitment from the party’s leadership to change the status quo.
Afterall, a known friend is better than an unknown one.
Should the Integrity group which has widened it’s scope to national officers and leaders from South West led by Chief Olabode George into their meeting, returning to PDP without achieving their goal, then their future and that of other stakeholders from the South remains shaky.
Should Atiku win the presidency without the five ‘rebel’ governors, then it means impact of the governors and indeed the South is not necessary for maintaining stability and control of the country and this will have far reaching implications for nations cohesiveness and stability since it would mean the North can always manage to have it’s way over rulership of Nigeria.
On the other way, should the APC win the presidency without the five governors, then it’s ability to control the political landscape of the country would remain unquestioned since relevance of the five to the APC would have been tested by the result of the election.
Hence, from the above, the decision of the five governors not to be hasty in making a collective decision on which of the three candidates…Atiku,
Tinubu and Peter Obi of Labour Party, LP to support is based on need to weigh various options and adopt strategies for it’s ultimate survival as a group  and power block in the country.
Politics is about interest and also a game of numbers.
Involving the hitherto silent stakeholders in the Southern parts of the country is aimed at building a more potent force to bargain for a reform within the PDP and also ensure their collective and individual survival both as politicians and leaders.
Since, not all south west leaders like George, and Taofeek Arapaja, deputy national leader, former Ondo governor, Olusegun Mimiko, Donald Duke and others are sold to a Tinubu Presidency, the group of five have a herculean task of carrying them along should they cast their lot with Tinubu  like, Ayodele Fayose former Ekiti governor , Makinde and Wike’s body language seems to be saying.
However, casting their lot with Obi may be premised on their assurance of getting the core northern block in the country to support Obi presidency.
Should the Integrity group back Obi and the later fail to win, it will spell a death knell for them individually and collectively after the election since they will have to remain a third force moreso when two of them..Wike and Ortom, would’ve been out of power while they could not in reality guarantee the loyalty of their surrogate left behind.
With three months left to the election, the Integrity group has enough work to do as any decision taken will be a gamble which could go either way.
The adamance of PDP leadership in refusing to ask Ayu to go had actually exerted more pressure from Wike’s  group.
The group  from all intent and purposes, probably never expected the struggle for power balancing in their party to last this long and this has apparently been the reason why the group has broadened their consultation beyond the initial five governors to ensure wide acceptance to any decision they may take which will definitely affect their political relevance and career.
Interesting times lies ahead for the Integrity group.


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