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Atiku’s camp rejects Port Harcourt as reconciliation meeting venue

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Wike and Atiku Abubakar

More details have emerged on why a meeting of the Adamawa State governor Ahmadu Fintiri-led reconciliation committee, which was slated to hold on Monday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in order to iron out the differences between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubukar, and Governor Nyseom Wike did not take place.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that the team nominated by the former vice president to represent him refused to attend because of the venue.

A top source revealed on Tuesday that the Rivers State governor had insisted that the state capital must play host to the event to the chagrin of the Atiku team who countered that such a meeting should rather take place in the nation’s capital.

Those nominated by the presidential candidate to speak for him in the meeting include the chairman, Governor Finitri; former Minister, Adamu Waziri; former PDP governorship candidate in Ekiti State, Eyitayo Jegede; former Cross River State governor, Liyel Imoke, and Jide Adeniji.

To represent Wike are former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke; former Information Minister, Professor Jerry Gana; former Cross River State governor, Donald Duke; former Ondo State governor, Olusegun Mimiko, and former Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo. While the Wike team was on ground in Port Harcourt on Monday when the first meeting was supposed to take place, the Atiku side did not show up.

“The meeting did not take place. The problem is that Wike was insisting that the meeting should hold in Port Harcourt,” the source privy to the development volunteered to our reporter. However, both parties have now agreed to meet on Monday next week in Abuja.

Wike and four of the PDP governors backing him last weekend traveled to France to fine-tune their strategy as they hope to extract concessions from Atiku before a resolution to their lingering crisis may be reached.

The governors with him are Sam Ortom (Benue), Seyi Ma- kinde (Oyo), Ifeanyi Uguanyi (Enugu) and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia).

They returned on Monday to Port Harcourt in time to monitor the aborted meeting. All of them have withheld their support for Atiku following the perceived humiliation Wike allegedly suffered in the hands of the former vice president who bypassed him to choose his Delta State colleague, Ifeanyi Okowa, despite the recommendation by the committee set up to help the presidential candidate to select a running mate. Despite endorsing the Fintiri-led committee, Wike has continued to express displeasure at the vibes emanating from the camp of the presidential candidate.

Findings revealed that his anger stemmed from the way the presidential candidate had broken into his camp and poached some of his most loyal supporters, particularly in Rivers State. Some PDP chieftains in the state who were seen as the governor’s core loyalists including former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Okpara, and former Senator who represented Rivers East, Lee Maeba, have now aligned with Atiku against their state governor, drawing his ire.

This has added a new twist to the feud with Atiku’s camp even though the former vice president remains confident of a resolution of the differences.

“Wike is angry that some of his men came to join Atiku without his permission,” a top party source revealed to the Nigerian Tribune, but assured that the issue is being resolved.

The spokesman of the Atiku campaign, Dino Melaye, is confident that progress has been made on the reconciliation effort.

Meanwhile, Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, among other politicians in the South, on Tuesday visited Wike in his private residence. Those with Obi at the meeting were Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue State, and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, former Governor of Cross Rivers State, Donald Duke.

Like other such gatherings, the meeting was held behind closed doors at the governor’s private residence along Ada George Road in Port Harcourt.

No details of the meeting which lasted for a few hours was disclosed.

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