Senate President Godswill Akpabio has urged former Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike and his four other friends in the G5 to come up with another aggrieved group within opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to make winning the 2027 presidential election a smooth ride for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Akpabio, a former Akwa Ibom State governor, spoke on Sunday at a thanksgiving reception held at Wike’s private residence on Ada-George Road, in his hometown, Rumueprikom in the Obio-Akpor Local Government Area of the oil-rich South-South state.
“I want to thank you for all your efforts to bring justice to Nigeria,” Akpabio told Wike who backed the return of power to Southern Nigeria and supported APC’s candidate, Bola Tinubu against his party’s choice, Atiku Abubakar in the 2023 presidential election.
“And I want to thank the G5 Governors,” the Senate President said whilst addressing the G5 or the Integrity Group made up of five major aggrieved politicians within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who kicked against the emergence of Abubakar in the last February 25 poll.
“We are very delighted, we are proud to have G5. Please, ensure that in 2027, another G5 emerges so that APC will continue to do well in this country. And if you like, you can add two more, make it G7 and not only G5,” Akpabio added.
Addressing Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, who is also one of the G5 members, Akpabio said, “Your Excellency (Governor) Makinde, you know I predicted that you are going to be a governor when I met you with the late Alaafin, may his soul rest in peace. I just saw the way you were walking and I said, ‘This man walks like a governor.’ I wasn’t surprised when you became a governor.”
All members of the G5 including Wike, Makinde and former Governors Samuel Ortom (Benue), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) were seated at the event.
Another member of the Integrity Group and former Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose; as well as Acting PDP Chairman, Umar Damagum; former Governors Peter Odili (Rivers), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano) and James Ibori (Delta) were in attendance.
President Bola Tinubu was represented by Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Serving Governors Siminalayi Fubara (Rivers), Caleb Mutfwang (Plateau), joined the long list of Very Important Personalities at the event which was a Mecca of sorts with high-ranking APC stalwarts and members of the 10th National Assembly including Deputy Senate President Barau Jibrin, ex-Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole; ex-Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi; member representing Borno South Senatorial District, Ali Ndume; amongst others.
Many believed the G5 whittled the chances of Abubakar in the last presidential election as the G5 had insisted on Rotational Presidency after the eight-year administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, a former military head of state from Katsina State in North-West Nigeria whose two-term tenure as democratically elected President ended on May 29, 2023.
At the PDP primary last year before the 2023 general elections, the G5 couldn’t stop Abubakar, another northerner from Adamawa State from getting the party’s golden ticket. The group thereafter demanded that Iyorchia Ayu (another northerner from Benue State) stepped down for a southern replacement as PDP national chairman but both Atiku and Ayu called the bluff of the G5.
For the presidential election, Abubakar lost in all the G5 states and while Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi won in Enugu and Abia, Tinubu raked in Oyo, Benue and Rivers.
Tinubu, 70, came out tops in 12 of Nigeria’s 36 states, and secured significant numbers in several other states to claim the highest number of votes — 8,794,726, almost two million votes more than his closest rival, Abubakar.
Abubakar, 76, who has now run for president six times, got 6,984,520 votes, while Obi, who, in less than a year, galvanised young voters in a manner some have described as unprecedented finished the race with 6,101,533.
On June 8, the G5 visited President Tinubu at Aso Villa in Abuja.