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Rivalry escalates as Atiku and Wike clash over PDP leadership at NEC meeting

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The tension between the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) 2023 presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesome Wike, has intensified ahead of the party’s 98th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.

One of the key issues expected to dominate discussions at the NEC meeting, slated for Thursday, April 18, is the fate of the party’s acting National Chairman, Umar Damagum, and the debate over whether he should retain his position or be replaced by a substantive chairman.

Calls for Damagum’s removal and the appointment of a permanent chairman have been growing within the party. Damagum assumed the role of acting National Chairman after the court suspended the former chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, following a petition from a PDP member, Terhide Utaan, based on a vote of no confidence passed against Ayu by his ward executives in Benue State.

Last week, 60 members of the House of Representatives demanded Damagum’s removal, advocating for a substantive chairman from the North Central region. This move has ignited a power struggle within the party, with former Benue State governor, Gabriel Suswam, and former Deputy National Secretary, Dr. Emmanuel Agbo, vying for the position of PDP National Chairman.

Atiku’s faction is throwing its weight behind Suswam, while Wike’s camp, supported by some PDP governors, is pushing for Damagum’s confirmation as the substantive chairman to complete Ayu’s tenure.

Sources reveal that Wike and his allies are backing Damagum’s continuity, with plans to nominate a replacement for the National Deputy Chairman position once Damagum is confirmed.

The strained relationship between Atiku and Wike dates back to the 2023 general elections when Atiku secured the PDP presidential ticket, sidelining Wike. The tension escalated further when Atiku chose former Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate instead of Wike, leading Wike to support the APC’s presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu.

With the NEC meeting approaching, stakeholders are embroiled in intense negotiations and power plays. While Atiku’s camp is rallying behind Suswam, the battle for control over the party’s leadership intensifies, reflecting the deep-seated divisions within the PDP.

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