Alhaji Ibrahim Masari, a close associate of Tinubu and placeholder before the choice of Senator Kashim Shettima as Vice Presidential candidate of the APC yesterday, confirmed talks between presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, saying the latter has agreed to work for the success of the former in 2023.

Also confirming the meeting, the Asiwaju Project Beyond 2023 group said the meeting is a good omen for the party, ahead of the 2023 general elections.

But despite the London meeting, there were, however, conflicting reports that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, may have headed to London in an effort to woo the Rivers governor.

While a source said he left for London, another source from the former VP’s camp told Vanguard that he (Atiku) left Nigeria for Paris after attendig the opening ceremony of the annual conference of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA.

Similarly, a source within the Atiku camp said he (Atiku) has not given up on the Rivers governor.

This came as PDP National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, yesterday, expressed confidence that the party will win at least 25 states in the 2023 general elections.

It will be recalled that the APC presidential candidate met with the Rivers governor and some PDP governors, including Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, and his Abia State counterpart, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu and other PDP stalwarts loyal to Wike in London on Monday night.

Vanguard had reported amid the PDP crisis, Governor Wike and some of his allies travelled out of the country for what was described as a critical meeting on their political future.

Wike has agreed to work for Tinubu — Masari

Alhaji Masari, who spoke from London, told the BBC Hausa, yesterday, that Tinubu met Wike, adding that they would continue to meet in due course.

His words: “The meeting was basically on the 2023 presidential election and by God’s grace, we are going to work with Governor Nyesom Wike; he will assist and we are going to win the election with ease, by the will of God.”

Asked whether Wike would join the APC to assist Tinubu win the election, Masari said he is not in a position to say if Wike would join the APC, adding that Wike didn’t have to leave the PDP before he could assist anyone he wants to help.

“This is because Wike is a big politician, a governor and he has control in some other states, apart from his state. He is good to the people and has associated with his people peacefully. By the grace of God, he will be of help to us.”

Asked if the new political romance will last as Atiku’s camp is still trying to pacify Wike, Masari said: “Well, only God knows what will happen next. But from what we are seeing now, what has transpired is that we are going to work with Wike and he will be useful to us.

“If you could remember, it was APC that caused the failure of APC in Bauchi, it was members of the party that led to the defeat of the governor from their party. The same thing happened in Adamawa State. So, what I want people to understand is that someone can still assist you, even without joining your party if he wants to.

“Furthermore, with the widespread acceptance of Bola Tinubu to Nigerians, I can assure you, by the will of God, he is going to win the election, with or without help. But there is this Hausa adage which says even if you’re beautiful, you should add to it by taking a bath. So, it’s not only about Wike, we are also talking with many other governors,” he said.

Masari said their political alliance with Wike will not make the likes of former Transport Minister, Mr Rotimi Amaechi and other APC members in Rivers State feel sidelined.

The APC chieftain said: “Nobody will do anything that will hurt Rotimi Amaechi; he is a party member and a formidable member of the APC.”

It’s a good omen for APC — Tinubu group

Also confirming the meeting, Director-General of Asiwaju Project Beyond 2023, Mr Realwan Okpanachi, said the Tinubu-Wike proposed alliance was a good omen for APC.

Okpanachi, in a statement, noted that Wike’s step was justified.

He said: “We can confirm to you authoritatively that Wike and his team met with Tinubu in London to discuss a strategic alliance, ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

“Both leaders appreciate the need to work together to ensure that Tinubu becomes the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023.

“The question is: Is Wike justified to take this particular step? The answer is a capital yes. What do you expect from a governor that has given everything to sustain the PDP only to be slightly compromised and embarrassed by the same party and its leaders/officers?

“Wike is old and politically experienced and savvy enough to make his decisions.”

Atiku jets to Paris, may meet Wike

On Atiku’s overseas trip, the source said: “I am not aware that Atiku has gone to London. Oga (Atiku) is in Paris, that is what I know and he went on a business trip to Paris. He left Lagos after the NBA conference but between then and now, I do not know whether he has left Paris for London.”

Atiku’s meeting with Wike possible —Source

In response to a question whether Atiku is scheduled to meet with Wike during his current visit to the United Kingdom, the source said, “It is a possibility.”

Asked if comments made by former Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido were a reflection of the mood in Atiku’s camp, the source said, “In every group there are hawks and there are doves.   People are expressing their personal views which are unhelpful on most of these issues.

“Until we hear from the candidate himself, it will be unhelpful to assume that what individual members say is the official position; the same goes for the other side.”

He’s on business trip — Media Aide

When contacted, Atiku’s  Media Adviser, Mazi Paul Ibe, said “I don’t know where you got your information from.

“The only thing I know is that, my principal travelled to Europe after the Nigeria Bar Association conference in Lagos, on Monday, and the trip is business related.”

Atiku hasn’t given up on Wike — PDP Source

But despite meeting with Tinubu, a source familiar with the move for reconciliation with Wike, said the PDP presidential candidate has not given up on the Rivers governor.

The source, who spoke in confidence, said: “There are still plans to bring the two of them together for reconciliation. They will continue to discuss with Wike. I am not sure they will give up on him.

“There is a lot of time because the election is more than six months from now and six months is a lot of time in politics.  So, they have time to play and they may be deliberately allowing Wike to exhaust himself before they make their next move.”

Ayu boasts of PDP’s victory

Similarly, the PDP’s National Chairman, Senator Ayu, yesterday expressed confidence that the party will win at least 25 states in the 2023 general elections.

Ayu spoke after an interactive session with the party’s governorship candidates, at the PDP National Secretariat in Abuja.

He said: “The candidates came and express their concerns in their various states.

They briefed us on the efforts they are making in their various states to win the election as you know, the elections will be won in the states, not just at the national level.

“I am very happy with the progress made so far in various states and some of the little issues that we have clarified, it was an extremely useful meeting.

“So, we are happy that members of the party are very determined that we don’t just win at the national level. State Houses of Assembly, National Assembly, state governorships, we want to return about 25 state governors or more as we used to have. So the mood at the party is excellent.”

After the meeting, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State said: “The chairman has already spoken, you know we are loyal party members.

“We believe in the supremacy and sanctity of the party and he has already told you that the mood is very excellent.

“The candidates are coming together uniting the party to discuss, even issues of reconciliation.”

I don’t believe Tinubu met Wike— Bauch gov

Governor Mohammed also denied knowledge of a meeting held between Governor Wike, some PDP governors sympathetic to him and the presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Tinubu, in Europe.

In response to a question on the subject, the governor said: “I am not aware of the meeting between other party members and Governor Wike.”

Also speaking at the event, the governorship candidate in Kaduna State, who is also chairman of PDP Governorship Candidates’ Forum, Isa Ashiru, said: “We are here on a consultative meeting with our leaders on the way forward and we have extended discussions and views, regarding the 2023 elections and we are home and dry. We don’t have a crisis in PDP. I don’t know where you got this information.”

Wike’s aide flays Lamido over comments

Faulting comments credited to former governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido, against the Rivers governor, Special Assistant on Media to Governor Wike, Kelvin Ebiri, accused Lamido of making efforts to deepen the crisis in the PDP. Ebiri, in a statement, said the former governor’s recent interview was full of disdain, adding that he (Lamido) lacks the right to malign the person of Governor Wike.

Ebiri said: “While we cannot deny that Alhaji Lamido has an inalienable right to his personal opinion, we wish to declare that he, however, lacks the right to malign Governor Wike, whose immense contributions to the sustenance of the PDP are not in dispute.

“It is rather appalling that at a time concerted efforts are being made by lovers of true democracy and the unity of the party to resolve some inherent contradictions plaguing the PDP, Alhaji Lamido and his cohorts, who have since lost their relevance in the polity, are busy creating friction and schism.

“Governor Wike has never claimed to be the custodian of the over 3 million votes in Rivers State. But as the leader of the PDP and good people of Rivers State, anyone who underrates the governor’s political pedigree or dares to ignore his influence in the state and beyond will be doing so at his peril.

“We wish to remind Alhaji Lamido that Governor Wike has never left anyone in doubt about his capacity to sway the voters in Rivers State in a direction that benefits the people and the state. When he speaks, Rivers people will listen, no doubt.”

Pro-Atiku supporters plan one million-man-march for Atiku in Rivers

Meanwhile, amid the clampdown by the Rivers governor on pro-Atiku Abubakar supporters, a House of Representatives member, Farah Dagogo, yesterday, vowed to mobilise a one million-man match in support of the PDP presidential candidate for the 2023 elections.

Dagogo said the planned rally to drum support for Atiku was already at an advanced stage, dismissing fears that PDP might not do well in the Niger Delta in the 2023 elections under prevailing Wike’s grandstanding.

He said: “Conducting elections in Nigeria changed. The voting power is now with the people. No one can order anyone around, on who to vote or not vote for, no matter how highly placed, because the people are the deciders with their PVCs and votes.

“The PDP has been true and fair to our people. We are at an advanced stage in our plans for a one million-man march for Atiku and Okowa across the Niger Delta, particularly in Rivers State.

“That will also prove to the naysayers that the region is for PDP. Atiku will win and it is in the interest of those who do not want to be left behind to board or be cast in the dustbin of political history.”