The insistence of the supporters of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike on his nomination is causing a stalemate in the search for the running mate for the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar.
Atiku won the presidential primary of the PDP on May 29 and has since been consulting with the leaders of the party on his vice presidential pick.
The party has until June 17 to submit its list of candidates for all elective offices in the 2023 general elections to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
While the supporters of Mr Wike are insisting on his nomination as Atiku’s running mate, a majority of leaders of the PDP prefer the Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, for the position.
Mr Okowa had supported Atiku at the primary and is from a major South-South State like Mr Wike.
The presidential candidate is said to prefer Mr Okowa but is being forced to delay his decision by the contention that Mr Wike would bring on board the ticket stronger political structure and financial muscles than Mr Okowa.
The supporters of the Rivers governor are also referencing his roles in rescuing the party at numerous times of crises and how he had also supported PDP chapters across the country in states where the party does not run the government.
However, Mr Wike’s critics say he is not “presidential in conduct” and would be a dangerous deputy and divisive figure in the presidency should the party win the presidential election.
A source close to the negotiation said Atiku has offered to appoint Mr Wike petroleum minister or give him an opportunity to nominate one should the party win the election.
However, the Rivers State governor’s camp is insisting on the vice-presidential slot, saying “a promise is not as important as what is currently on hand”.
Hours after the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) elected Bola Tinubu as its presidential candidate on Wednesday, Atiku met with the 13 governors elected on the ticket of his own party in continuation of his search for the most suitable running mate. The meeting was unable to reach a decision.
The former vice president is now scheduled to meet the Board of Trustees of the party on Thursday (today) on the same matter. A party insider said the Board of Trustees might set up a committee to resolve the deadlock.
Atiku’s running mate in the 2019 presidential election, Peter Obi, defected from the PDP just before the presidential primary in which he was an aspirant and has now been nominated as the flag bearer of the Labour Party.