There are indications that the ongoing crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may throw spanners in the leadership position of Iyorchia Ayu, as the party holds crucial meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) on Thursday.
The NEC meeting is the first since the presentation of Ifeanyi Okowa as the party’s Vice Presidential candidate by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate.
The make-or-mar meeting is also called, to amongst others, address the myriad of conflicts that trailed Okowa’s unveiling.
The announcement of Okowa as Atiku’s running mate has since unsettled the party and has also generated bad blood among some leaders of the party.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has kicked against the development, and has since declared “war” against what he sees as an attempt to sideline him in the party.
The NEC meeting will also ratify membership of party’s Presidential Campaign Council, ahead of the flag off of the official kick of the 2023 presidential campaign as stipulated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Wike and his supporters are insisting on Ayu’s removal as the party’s National Chairman, relying of the provisions in the party’s Constitution on the Principles of Zoning contained in Article 7 (2) (c) of the Party’s 2006 Constitution as Amended
Wike, apart from the support he enjoys amongst the party’s NEC, also has strong following amongst the governors elected on the party’s platform.
They include, Governors Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Ifeanyi Ugwanyi of Enugu State, Samuel Ortom of Benue State and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State.
Governor Wike has also been meeting with major stakeholders of the party, to woo them to his side ahead of the Thursday NEC meeting.
The governor and his team had met with governorship candidates of the party from the Southern part of the country on Tuesday in Port Harcourt.
BusinessDay gathered that the faceoff has deeply divided members of the National Working Committee (NWC) following insistence by Wike on the removal of the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, as a panacea for peace.
Wike’s position seems to be gaining acceptance, especially as some of the stakeholders are insisting that the party invokes Article 7 (2) (c) of the PDP Constitution, which deals with the Federal Character Principle and zoning policy of the party
Read also: Why Ayu should not resign
The party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) Chairman, Walid Jibrin had insisted on restructuring the National Executive Committee ( NEC) to reflect the federal character principle, as contained in Article 7 (2) (c), of the party.
The Principles of Zoning and Article 7 (2) (c) of the Peoples Democratic Party Constitution 2006 as Amended, provides that: “In pursuance of the principle of equity, Justice and fairness, the party shall adhere to the policy of rotation and zoning of party and public elective offices and it shall be enforced by appropriate executive committee at all levels”.
Jibrin had recently said: “It is unfair for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to have both its presidential candidate and the post of the party’s National Chairman, from the northern region of the country.”
This same position is also being canvassed by Bode George, a former National Chairman.
Both party chieftains at different fora insisted that Wike is fighting a “just cause “
The lingering crisis in the PDP ahead of the 2023 general election is already casting dark cloud over the party’s chances.
Wike is said to currently control a large group of followers in the party in the South-South, South East and South West, many of whom regard him as a true party man.
It is held that he sustained the party from 2015 to date, when many left, after the defeat of the party during the 2015 Presidential election.
Wike singularly ensured the party won the gubernatorial election in Edo State in 2020.
He is unhappy about a situation whereby after baking a cake, those who were watching at the corner are now sharing the cake and leaving him to only salivate.
It is also believed that in line with the principle of sowing and reaping, he deserves to reap, and he sees the current period as the only window to push for a fair share of control over the party, or he may forever forfeit them, because he cannot negotiate anything after the election.
In the 23 years of Nigeria’s current political experience, the popular adage “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” best describes the grim tradition that characterises the leadership of the major political parties, from 1998 to date, especially the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP)
In the history of the PDP, it is on record that only Ahmadu Ali (2005-2007) served out his tenure before quitting office.
Others, including the late Solomon Lar, Barnabas Gemade, Audu Ogbeh, Vincent Ogbulafor, Okwesilieze Nwodo, Bamamga Tukur, Adamu Mu’Azu and Uche Secondus passed through stormy waters, before being eased out unceremoniously.
BusinessDay checks revealed that all the past chairmen were “consumed” by conflict of interests.
For instance, while Audu Ogbeh was removed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who felt he (Ogbeh) could not be trusted, Vincent Ogbulafor, Okwesilieze Nwodo, Bamanga Tukur and Uche Secondus lost their plum jobs to “disagreements with their state governors.
The same scenario appears to be playing out, in the current PDP as the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom pitches camp with Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike to oust Ayu.