Presidency loses battle for Amaechi’s deputy, others

Still hurt by the defection of five governors to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), the Presidency has been making overtures to their deputies to remain in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

They are dangling gubernatorial tickets as a bait to retain the deputy governors.

But some of the deputy governors are suspicious of the “Greek Gift”, The Nation learnt yesterday.

They are also suspecting that the offer may be a ploy to destabilise their states.

The deputy governors are: Tele Ikuru (Rivers); Mukhtar Shagari (Sokoto); Bala Ngilari (Adamawa); Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano) and Peter Kishira (Kwara).

Of the five deputy governors, only Shagari has parted ways with his principal, Governor Aliyu Wammako, on party affliation.

Shagari, who has chosen to remain in PDP, and others met with Vice-President Namadi Sambo on Tuesday in Kaduna. They discussed strategies to retake the Northwest for PDP.

It was learnt that the Presideny’s emissaries to some of the deputy governors included PDP chieftains, former governors, ministers and strategists.

The deputy governors were reportedly asked not to defect to the APC. They got a promise of “an appreciable political accommodation”.

It was gathered that some of the deputy governors were promised either “automatic governorship” ticket or ministerial slot, if should they dump their principals.

But some of the deputy governors could not secure a “firm” commitment from the Presidency on what would be their benefits.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The offers to the deputies border on either governorship ticket or ministerial slot. But some of these deputy governors are skeptical.

“In fact, one of the deputy governors told a group that ‘a bird in the hand is two in the bush.’ He said he cannot be used as a pawn against his governor.”

Another source said: “Attempts to snatch the deputy governors from their principals had been difficult because they have seen it as a booby trap.”

He said in Rivers State for instance, it would be “difficult” to ask the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, to step down for Tele Ikuru as the PDP governorship candidate. Ikuru is Amaechi’s deputy.

“Even in terms of ministerial slot, Ikuru might be sidelined because President Goodluck Jonathan has some foot soldiers like ex-Deputy Speaker Austin Opara, ex-Deputy Speaker Chibudom Nwuche; and ex-Governor Peter Odili among others,” the source said.

The popular thinking is that Shagari can secure the PDP ticket in Sokoto State because he was the original governorship flag bearer in 2007. But it cannot be an easy ride for Bala Ngilari in Adamawa State where the son of the National Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, and others are interested PDP’s governorship slot.

“The “forces” in Kano State PDP are not to be favourably disposed to Ganduje. Mohammed Abacha is eyeing the party’s ticket.

Kwara State Deputy Governor Peter Kistra has been a civil servant all his life. Taking a plunge into the gubernatorial race against his boss will amount to a “political suicide” because he comes from a minority but marginalised area, a party chieftain said.

A Presidency source said: “It is normal to find out if the deputy governors are also defecting or not.

“And there is nothing bad in allowing them to appreciate why they should remain in PDP.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “It is too early to assume that the deputy governors will not dump those governors. Let us wait and see.”

The spokesman for the VP, Alhaji Umar Sani, who spoke with our correspondent, confirmed that Shagari came with a delegation to Sambo in Kaduna.

He said: “If somebody says I am no longer in PDP, you need to ask others if they are also defecting with him or her.

“Do you expect us to keep quiet? Shagari came and he said he remains in PDP.”

The Nation

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