The suspense created in political circles by the Integrity Group of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors, otherwise known as G-5, threatening to announce their preferred presidential candidate ahead of the 2023 general elections might be ruse after all.
Lagos State PDP governorship candidate, Mr. Abdul-Azeez Adediran, said presidential candidates waiting to be endorsed by the group would be disappointed, noting that the five governors, led by Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, will not announce any candidate.
Other members of the group are Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia).
The G-5 has been in a running battle with the PDP over refusal of the national chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, to resign, following the emergence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the party.
Wike and his members said Iyorchia’s continued stay as the party’s national chairman is against the power rotation principle of the party and federal character clause, as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
Though Wike said the group would announce a presidential candidate, which his group will support this month, Adediran maintained that doing so would amount to political suicide.
Adediran, in an exclusive interview with The Guardian said: “Announcing any other candidate apart from Alhaji Atiku Abubakar will amount to death penalty for them because they all have stakes in the next election. They are smart politicians. They know this, so they won’t make the mistake.”
Buttressing his point, Adediran, who expressed confidence that PDP will win both presidential and governorship elections in the state, said: “They are critical stakeholders in the next election. Ugwuanyi and Ortom are running for Senate and my leader, Seyi Makinde, is running for a second term. Wike also wants his successor to be from the PDP. How do you expect them to explain to illiterate voters, who are the majority, to begin to separate the ballot papers of presidential candidates from that of the Senate and House of Representatives? Three ballot papers will be giving to voters on February 25. How will you explain to voters to vote for different parties?”
“Let them continue to drag Nigerians to follow them till the election day. The current political scenario is different from what happened in 2015. All those who left the PDP in 2015 to form APC did not have stakes in PDP. They contested on the platform of the APC.”
When asked if he was making the assertion based on privileged information, he said: “I am speaking as a politician. See the smart politician, the Emilokan guy, he had stopped thinking of meeting with them and has faced his campaign because he knows it wouldn’t work. The one that does not know anything is the one still expecting that they will endorse him.
“And Atiku, who is a veteran in this trade, is calm and mobilising support everywhere, believing that they can’t dare it because they know the implication.
Yes, they have genuine concerns, which the party has addressed and is still addressing and I can understand them. But they won’t announce any presidential candidate.”
Adediran, who expressed optimism that Lagosians will vote for him, said the way people received him at the 166 wards he visited during his campaign and their determination to free the state from bondage has encouraged him to start preparing to take over government on May 29.