The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 election, Atiku Abubakar, and the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, are reportedly at loggerheads over who will become the minority leader of the 10th House of Representatives.
This is not the first time that the two PDP heavyweights have clashed over political issues. Before the 2023 election, Wike and four other governors under the G5-Governors group allegedly worked against Atiku Presidential bid.
Atiku and Wike are backing different candidates among the PDP lawmakers elect for the position of the minority leader in the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
The minority leader is the leader of the opposition parties in the House of Representatives and plays a key role in shaping debates and policies.
The two candidates vying for the position are Hon Oluwole Oke from Obokun/Oriade Federal Constituency of Osun State, and Hon Kingsley Chinda from Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency of Rivers State.
Oke is the chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts of the 9th Assembly and has the support of Atiku, who is a former vice president and a seasoned politician and businessman.
Chinda is a loyalist of Wike, who is one of the most influential governors in the PDP and has been vocal in criticizing the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Wike had also supported Chinda for the same position in the 9th Assembly, but he lost to Hon Ndudi Elumelu from Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency of Delta State, who was backed by outgoing Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, and some other PDP governors.
The contest between Oke and Chinda has divided the PDP caucus in the incoming 10th Assembly into two factions: “Greater Minority” and “Minority Apex.”
The “Greater Minority” group is loyal to Atiku and wants Oke to be the minority leader, while the “Minority Apex” group is aligned with Wike and prefers Chinda for the job.
According to a PDP lawmaker-elect told that Atiku and Wike have resumed hostilities over the minority leadership slot and are mobilizing their supporters among the PDP lawmakers-elect and other opposition parties.
He said that Atiku’s faction is accusing Wike’s faction of planning to take over the party, while Wike’s faction is unhappy that Atiku emerged as the PDP presidential candidate despite being a northerner like President Muhammadu Buhari.
He added that both Atiku and Wike have a lot at stake in who becomes the minority leader, as it could affect their future political ambitions.
Atiku Abubakar has contested for Nigeria’s presidency six times since 1993 but has never won. He came second to Bola Tinubu, the APC candidate, in the 2023 election and has joined other opposition candidates in demanding a revote
Nyesom Wike is serving his second term as governor of Rivers State and is widely seen as a potential presidential candidate for the PDP in 2027. He has been praised for his infrastructural development projects and his criticism of insecurity and corruption under the APC government.