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G-5 govs adamant, set for Makinde campaign

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There are indications on Monday that moves by the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, to persuade aggrieved Peoples Democratic Party governors to embrace peace have failed.

Emmanuel had a few days ago met with the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom; and his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike, in Port Harcourt as part of efforts to appeal to the aggrieved governor to support the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

Although Emmanuel described the meeting as a brotherly visit in the spirit of Christmas, The PUNCH gathered that it was a last-minute attempt by the governor to convince his counterparts to give peace a chance.

This came to the fore on Monday as the aggrieved governors are scheduled to visit Ibadan on Thursday for the inauguration of their Oyo State counterpart, Seyi Makinde’s campaign.

Wike, Ortom, Makinde Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and some political heavyweights from the South had parted ways with the PDP presidential candidate over his alleged refusal to prevail on the PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, to resign after Atiku, a northerner, clinched the presidential ticket of the party.

The governors insisted that Ayu’s resignation would ensure a balance in the leadership of the main opposition party.

An associate of the Benue State governor, who confided in The PUNCH, said there was no going back in the decision of the five aggrieved governors to dump the party’s presidential candidate.Emmanuel chairs the Presidential Campaign Council.

Speaking exclusively with our correspondent, however, a close confidant of Ortom said the Akwa Ibom State governor had earlier met with his Benue State counterpart in Makurdi, with the latter wasting no time in telling his visitor that working with Atiku was no longer possible.

He said, “Governor Ortom told him that Atiku had burnt his bridges. He also told him that there was nothing he alone could do and urged him to meet with the other four governors that make up the Integrity Group.

“The PCC knows the importance of the governors as far as elections are concerned and as chairman of that council, Udom Emmanuel took it upon himself to intervene. This is what took him to Port Harcourt.

“I can’t speak for Wike but Governor Ortom assured him that while he would not campaign for Atiku, he would also not campaign against him. He also promised not to stop anyone desirous of campaigning for the former Vice President in the state from doing so.”

Meanwhile, the five governors will on Thursday be in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital for the flag-off of Makinde’s second-term campaign rally.

A source at the Wadata Plaza, the national secretariat of the PDP told The PUNCH that all the five governors have pledged their availability for the event.

“You know they are more than colleagues now. Whatever affects one affects the others. They are in solidarity with whoever among them is celebrating or marking any special event. As usual, Wike, the leader of the group will be there alongside the others.

“Even though they are members of the PDP, they are going about their campaigns as if they have a different party. They are in a world of their own, riding on the influence of their executive powers to call the bluff of the party,” he said.

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