There were indications yesterday that pesidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and the outgoing governor of Rivers State, Nyensom Wike, may have returned to the trenches over the minority leadership of the 10th House of Representatives.
Abubakar and Wike, LEADERSHIP gathered, are supporting different aspirants among the federal lawmakers elected on the platform of the PDP to emerge as leader of the minority caucus in the House of Representatives.
It was learnt that the two PDP leaders are leaving no stone unturned to outwit each other in the countdown to the inauguration of the 10th Assembly billed for June 13.
Findings by this paper revealed that the duo are currently mobilising members of the Green Chamber on the platform of the PDP and other opposition parties in a bid to gain advantage.
Wike had engaged in relentless hostilities with Atiku ahead of the February presidential poll, leading four other colleagues under the aegis of G5-Governors to work against the presidential bid of Atiku in the February 25 presidential election.
Atiku and the G5-Governors were pitched in irreconcilable differences over the emergence of PDP’s presidential standard-bearer and the propriety of the erstwhile national chairman of the party, Dr. Iyiocha Ayu, remaining in office following the emergence of Atiku as the presidential candidate of the party.
Wike and his colleagues in the G5 Coalition vehemently opposed the emergence of Atiku and Ayu, both from the North East and northern belt of the country as presidential candidate and national chairman respectively, insisting that Ayu be compelled to vacate his seat to pave the way for a southerner to succeed him for equity and national cohesion.
Their pleas fell on deaf ears, a development that led them to part ways with Atiku and PDP in the presidential election.
A few months after the presidential poll, LEADERSHIP gathered that Atiku and Wike are heading for a fresh showdown over the slot of the minority leadership of the 10th House of Representatives.
Two elected House members on the platform of PDP, Hon Oluwole Oke, who represent Obokun/Oriade Federal Constituency of Osun State and his colleague from Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency of Rivers State, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, are presently in contention for the House’s minority leadership slot.
It was learnt that Atiku is backing Oke, who is the chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts of the 9th Assembly, while his arch-rival, Wike, has thrown his weight behind Chinda.
It would be recalled that Wike supported Chinda for the same job slot in the 9th Assembly, but he couldn’t clinch the job, as his principal was outwitted by colleagues led by the outgoing Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, who supported Hon Ndudi Elumelu from Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency of Delta State, who eventually won the slot.
Already, the choice between Oke and Chinda has divided the PDP caucus in the yet to be inaugurated 10th Assembly into two camps, the “Greater Minority”and “Minority Apex.”
The “Greater Minority” is sympathetic to Atiku to deliver Oke who is also the leader of the group.
The “Minority Apex” said to be loyal to Wike is promoting Chinda, who is also the leader of the group.
An elected member of the House of Representatives on the platform of PDP who craved anonymity said, “Our presidential candidate in the last presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and the outgoing governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyenson Wike, have resumed hostilities. This time around it’s a war to determine who becomes the leader of the Minority Caucus in the 10th House of Representatives.
“The former Vice President has thrown his weight behind Hon. Oluwole Oke, who represents Obokun/Oriade Federal Constituency of Osun State and current chairman of the Public Account Committee in the 9th Assembly.
“The governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyemson Wike, has renewed his support for Hon. Kingsley Chinda, who represents Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency of Rivers State. If you can recall, Governor Wike also supported Chinda for this position in the 9th Assembly but Chinda couldn’t make it because the efforts of Governor Wike to his favour were frustrated by Governor Okowa and few other governors, who threw up Hon Ndudi Elumelu, who represents Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency of Delta State, and who eventually emerged as leader of the minority caucus of the 9th House of Representatives.
“The members-elect on the banner of PDP are divided into two camps: “Greater Minority” and “Minority Apex”. Each of them are glamouring for either Oke or Chinda. The two groups have Alhaji Atiku and Governor Wike as their patron and sponsor. The Greater Minority and the Atiku faction in PDP are accusing their counterpart in the Minority Apex of planning to hand over the party over to Wike.”
In a related development, the rift between the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Hon. Abiodun Faleke, has been settled.
The duo were locked in battle over the speakership of the 10th House of Representatives, with two of them supporting different aspirants for the top job.
Gbajabiamila openly supported the chairman of the House Committee on Land Transportation, while Faleke was in the vanguard of those canvassing support for Hon. Aminu Sani Jaji, who represents KauraNamoda/Birnin Magaji Federal Constituency of Zamfara State.
The two allies of the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, were also in supremacy battle over who becomes the chief of staff to the incoming helmsman of Nigeria.
However, LEADERSHIP learnt that the duo have sunk their differences after the intervention of the President-elect.
As part of the terms of the truce, Faleke was mandated to dump Jaji and back the choice of Abass for House speakership.
Faleke was also slated to emerge as Chairman of the Appropriation Committee in the incoming 10th House of Representatives.
“The much-advertised rift between Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and Hon. Abiodun Faleke, is over. Two of them are allies of the President-elect and the President-elect has called them to order. They have been prevailed upon to sheathe their swords. They have been told that Asiwaju boys shouldn’t be seen fighting openly.
“Hon. Faleke has been told to tow the party’s line (APC’s position) on zoning. Consequently, Hon. Faleke has dumped his preferred choice for House speakership, Hon. Sani Jaji. He is now with the camp promoting the anointed aspirant of APC and President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. In turn, Hon. Abiodun Faleke is going to serve as chairman of appropriation in the 10th House of Representatives. This is signed and sealed,” said a source who was privy to the meeting but pleaded anonymity.