The presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso, will meet the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, in Port Harcourt this afternoon in continuation of his search for a running mate for the 2023 election.
Mr Kwankwaso had been holding talks with Peter Obi of the Labour Party exploring the possibility of the two parties merging or forming an alliance for the election.
But the talks are believed to have been bogged down, especially by the knotty issue of who between the two presidential candidates would step down to become the running mate of the other.
Mr Kwankwaso’s scheduled meeting with Mr Wike may, however, be an indication that the former Kano State governor is looking for alternatives.
Aides of Messrs Kwankwaso and Wike confirmed that the two politicians were scheduled to meet in Port Harcourt from about 2.30 p.m. on Friday.
The two sides also said discussions between the politicians at the meeting would likely focus on the 2023 presidential election.
The two have remained in contact even after Mr Kwankwaso defected from the PDP.
It would be recalled that the NNPP candidate helped Mr Wike to win substantial votes from Kano delegates at the PDP primary last month.
Associates of the former governor are in control of the leadership of the PDP in Kano, despite his defection with many of his supporters from the party.
However, it is not clear whether Mr Wike would be persuaded to dump the PDP too and be Mr Kwankwaso’s running mate.
Although the period for the nomination of candidates has closed, a presidential or governorship candidate can substitute their running mate who withdraws before July 15.
But Mr Wike’s people have said they have no intention of moving out of the PDP, despite his recent disappointment over the choice of the party’s vice-presidential candidate.
They said Mr Wike would work for the victory of the party’s candidates in the state but would not commit his resources and energy to other causes whose fruits other persons stand to reap.
After beating Mr Wike to the PDP presidential ticket last month, former vice president Atiku Abubakar had considered the Rivers governor for nomination as his running mate but eventually picked Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
Mr Wike has not congratulated Mr Okowa or spoken in public on the choice. He has since met with political leaders from other parties, including Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Mr Obi of the LP.