BusinessDay

Ayu, Wike and the task of saving PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar is expected to officially kick off his campaign on Monday, October 10, 2022 in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

The event will be hosted by Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, who also is the chairman of the PDP presidential campaign council.

Every member of the party is expected to be part of the programme either physically or virtually. But unless there is a perfect reconciliation before the day, some party big wigs are likely to boycott the all-important event.

For some time now, some serving and former state governors have been having a running battle with the National Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu. They have insisted that the Benue State-born politician must resign his position for a Southern person in order to achieve a balance.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has been vehement on this demand. He is not alone. Other governors on his side are: Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); Samuel Ortom (Benue); and Seyi Makinde (Oyo).

The team also include, Ayo Fayose, Bode George, Jonah Jang, Olusegun Mimiko, Garkin Lado; Chibudom Nwuche, Caleb Mutfwang, Sunday Onor, Mao Ohuabunwa; Dan Obih; Jerry Gana and Ibrahim Dakwanbo.

Others are Donald Duke; Bayo Lawal; Ibrahim Shehu Gusau, M.D. Adoke and Mohammed Jamin.

There have been series of meetings aimed at reconciling the feuding camps to no avail.

On Tuesday, members of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) were in Port Harcourt where they met with Governor Wike. The BoT members, led by Adolphus Wabara, the acting chairman of the board, according to Wabara went to hear from the Wike group firsthand. He said the BoT went to first understand from Wike’s angle what the matter really is. He expressed the optimism that peace was going to return to the party in no time at all.

“We have come here, we are going back, we will convene a meeting of the Board of Trustees, brief them and that is when Nigerians will hear where the Board of Trustees stands. Since it is an advisory body, conscience of the party, we will be there to tell the party the truth and nothing but the truth about our findings,” he said.

He further said: “But one good thing is that this family remains one. You know, we are still under the umbrella called PDP and by the special grace of God, we will end up very victorious and we will end up in the Villa in May 2023 with his cooperation and support of other governors; four of them. I think we will make progress, no doubt about it.”

Apart from the ill-feelings that arose following his conduct and outcome of the party’s presidential primary in June, and the manner of choosing the vice presidential candidate, the major issue at hand at the moment is the insistence on the resignation of Senator Ayu.

On several occasions, Wike and his team had said that it would be against the party’s constitution for a region to produce both the presidential candidate and the national chairman.

They said that for the sake of equity, Ayu should step down for a Southerner to preside over the party according to his promise.

Wike said that before the presidential primary, Senator Ayu had said he would step down if someone from the North picks the ticket.

But Ayu is now saying that he added a proviso that if the presidential candidate should emerge from north, he would resign/step down if the party tells him to do so.

He therefore, insists that since the party leadership has not told him to resign, he does not need to do so.

According to Ayu, those calling for his resignation are individuals and not the leadership of the party.

Speaking in tandem on Wednesday on the Channels Television, Sunrise Daily programme, Adetokunbo Pearse, a member of the presidential campaign council, said that those calling for Ayu’s resignation did not have the powers to do so.

Read also: Ayu: Wike-G-5 PDP Governors in closed-door meeting in Enugu

“It is only the party that can say so, not individuals,” he said.

Pearse also faulted the allegation that the party’s leadership structure as currently constituted is flawed. He said it was not true.

“The National chairman is from the North; the National Secretary is from the South, and the BoT chairman is from the South (South East); people must understand that,” he said.

According to him; “We have this problem in Nigeria; everybody is saying the President must come from my place; this is why Buhari has shown us pepper. Everybody wants the president – it is my turn; it is the turn of Igbo. We are not concerned about where the president comes from, provided the person will work for the country’s good.”

Pearse said that with the 600-member presidential campaign council, the PDP was good to go. But when reminded that the party needed the input of the state governors that are aggrieved with the leadership, he said: “The only problem we have is that Governor Wike says Ayu must resign.” When asked if it was not gentlemanly for Ayu to step down as he promised, he said. “In the first place, democracy is, you run for election, you win election. Those calling on Ayu to step down are doing so on moral ground, not on the basis of the constitution of the party.”

On the recent allegation of N1 billion collected by Ayu and the returned millions of naira by some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, Pearse said: “When you have a problem all sorts of things begin to crop up. Something funny is going on. Did you read what the publicity secretary said about the returned money? Was that the first time they would receive such allowance? They are being used to destabilise the party. It was done in bad faith. They are looking for any excuse to make Ayu step down. They are not sincere.”

Pundits say that the PDP really needs to put its house in order as quickly as possible to get set for the battle ahead.

Although Wabara claimed that the PDP still remained one, a member, who refused to be named said that a united family would not be doing what is being witnessed in the party for months now.

“For now, our party is not one. I want to establish that. Something tells me that the reason for the animosity in our party is beyond the clamour for Ayu’s resignation. I want to believe that if Senator Ayu should step down today, Governor Wike and his team will not stroll back to the party. Wike is bitter about how he was treated and how some others just came to reap where he said they did not sow. He has said it openly that he would never support another northerner to emerge as president after Buhari. So, people should not think it will be eureka tomorrow for PDP if Ayu should resign,” the party member said.

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