The Peoples Democratic Party has made a bold move to woo former presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress, Dr Nicholas Felix, to join the PDP with the promise to ensure that he clinches the Edo State governorship ticket ahead of the 2024 election.
The development is coming barely a month after the APC youngest aspirant raised the alarm that the party’s standard-bearer, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has shut him out of his campaign ahead of the 2023 general election.
Felix, the youngest APC aspirant, had thrown his weight behind Vice President Yemi Osinbajo after he stepped down at the June 7 presidential primary.
Before he withdrew from the presidential race, Felix described Osinbajo as the “best man for the job”, adding that he strongly believed that he could turn the country around positively.
Against his expectation, Tinubu defeated Osinbajo, former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; and 11 other aspirants to clinch the party’s sole presidential ticket.
The APC aspirant’s concerns came some days before the party’s presidential flag bearer returned to the country from his trip to France.
While playing down his suspicion, Director of Media and Communications, Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Bayo Onanuga, had disclosed that he wouldn’t like to join issues with Felix.
While stating that Tinubu has made spirited effort to reach every aspirant that participated at the APC Convention in Eagle Square, Onanuga believed that his exclusion may either be an oversight or he was probably out of the country during the parley.
Hours after his Interview in Sunday PUNCH went viral, Felix told our correspondent that he was bombarded by several calls from Tinubu’s supporters and notable campaigners, with many accusing him of trying to blackmail their principal.
While refusing to reveal their names, a hapless Felix stated that he was numbed and depressed for days following the outrage.
One of such anonymous Whatsapp messages made available to The PUNCH read “What’s all this hysteria about…sounds blackmailish and certainly counterproductive. Smacks of unnecessary desperation if you ask me.”
He said, “After the PUNCH report was published, I received a lot of messages, especially this one from one of his team, who I will not disclose. I find it quite surprising but I didn’t react because I know our APC flagbearer, His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is a seasoned politician and won’t react in such a manner.
“With all I heard about him and people who know him personally and work closely with him, he will not tolerate any supporter or campaign team to react in this manner.
“I am only very concerned that some of these guys are going to represent him in a bad light. If we want to win this election, I expect that everyone should be able to work together.
“There is so much happening. The least we could do now is to bring everybody together and not try to join issues or cause ourselves more trouble.”
The aspirant admitted that there were, however, some soothing messages of hope and reassurances among the lot, particularly from the opposition PDP.
When asked if the rumour making the round that he is planning to dump the ruling party for the PDP ahead of the governorship election in 2024, the politician confessed that he received an ‘offer’ from some party chieftains, who urged him to consider the idea of replacing incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki when he leaves office in two years.
“But it is not something I am considering for now. I will definitely remain in APC,” he said.
When contacted for reaction, Spokesman for the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, stated that the development has not been brought to his notice.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Felix Morka, also expressed reservations about the report.
He said, “I don’t respond to rumours. Let the man who plans to defect confirm or debunk it.”
However, Onanuga told our correspondent on Tuesday that his principal has begun consultation with relevant stakeholders and religious leaders.
He said, “I am reassuring you again that the candidate is reaching out to everybody concerned.”