Diran Odeyemi, a member of the National Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party has said contrary to public perception that Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, was working against the interest of the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar; the governor was a party man committed to the success of the party at the polls.
Odeyemi said the governor, aware of his political future, was playing smart.
Recall that Makinde and Governors Nyesom Wike, Samuel Ortom, Okezie Ikpeazu, and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Rivers, Benue, Abia, and Enugu states, respectively, had resigned their membership of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council in September 2022 in protest of Iyorchia Ayu’s continued stay as the national chairman of the party.
Led by Wike, the governors insisted that Ayu should leave office following Atiku’s victory at the presidential primary in May 2022 to make room for regional balance in the distribution of national and party offices in line with the PDP constitution.
The aggrieved governors, who formed the Integrity Group, were expected to name their preferred candidate this month but their inability to agree on a common choice has left them unable to declare their stand.
Speaking with Saturday PUNCH on the issue, Diran said, “Governor Makinde is playing smart and working for himself. He financed Atiku’s rally in Oyo state. All his men, apart from Taofeek Arapaja, the Deputy National Chairman (South), were at that rally and they all pledged their loyalty to the presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.”
So far, only Ortom has dumped Atiku, having ordered his aides and associates to begin mobilisation for the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi.
Makinde’s commitment to the Integrity Group’s cause has come under the spotlight in recent times. Although he avoids pro-Atiku events, the same cannot be said of his loyalist and ally, the Deputy Governor, Adebayo Lawal, who has been present at many such events.
A former governor of one of the North-West states told our correspondent in confidence that Makinde’s moves were a reflection of “real politicking.”
“Politics is reality. You don’t burn the bridge when you have crossed to the other side because soon, you will need it to return. The message was clear when at the flag-off of the governor’s campaign rally, chants of Atiku filled the air. Governor Wike was there as well as the other members of their group.
“The governor knows the choice before his people. Being on the ballot, he knows he can’t dump Atiku just like that. I am aware that he had a secret meeting with Atiku recently where both men agreed to work together,” the northern governor added.
Also speaking, the Deputy National Youth Leader, Timothy Osadolor, described Makinde as a smart young man who knew when to strike for his good.
While noting that the party never had any doubt about the governor’s commitment, Osadolor said Wike would soon realise that he is living in delusion with his plan of declaring support for a rival presidential candidate.
“Governor Makinde is a very smart young man. Give it to him, he knows when to say yes and when to say no. He knows when to talk and when to keep mum. He has since left Wike in his shenanigans.
“Makinde is seeing the handwriting on the wall and he is making his moves. The only person who is still in doubt is Governor Wike and as an outgoing governor, we wish him the best,” he said.
Osadolor added, “Nigerians know for a fact that Atiku is the next President of this country. Seyi is close to his people in Oyo and the people know that their yearning for good governance will be realised with Atiku than with any other candidate. That was what the people demonstrated when the governor kicked off his re-election campaign.”