PDP crisis deepens as embattled chairman Ayu ousted

The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since last year has taken a new dimension as Iyorchia Ayu was replaced on Tuesday as national chairman of the party.

The party appointed Umar Damagun, its deputy national chairman (North), to take over pending the resolution of the ongoing crisis.

On Monday, a Benue High Court sitting in Makurdi, had granted an interim order restraining Ayu from further parading himself as the party’s national chairman.

The order followed his earlier suspension by his ward, Igyorov Council Ward in Gboko Local Government, Benue State.

Debo Ologunabga, national publicity secretary, said the National Working Committee of the PDP, at an emergency meeting on Tuesday, acknowledged the order of the Benue State High Court, dated March 27, 2023 with regards to the chairmanship position of the party.

He said: “After a careful consideration of the court order and in line with Section 45 (2) of the Constitution of the PDP (as amended in 2017), the NWC resolved that the Deputy National Chairman (North) His Excellency, Amb. Umar Ililya Damagum assumes the national chairmanship of our 0arty in acting capacity with effect from today, Tuesday, March 28, 2023.

“The NWC charges all leaders, critical stakeholders, teeming members and supporters of our great party to remain calm and united at this critical time.”

Ayu’s ordeal has been linked by political watchers to the Governor Nyesom Wike-led Integrity Group that metamorphosed from the G5 Governors team.

The group had alienated itself from the party’s activities, including the campaign for Atiku Abubakar, the party’s presidential candidate in the 2023 general election.

The crisis, which started at the party’s presidential primary at the the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, following Wike’s grievance over the outcome of the election.

Wike’s face-off with the party was fuelled by the choice of Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta State, as the running mate of Atiku.

Wike, alongside four other governors – Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Sam Ortom (Benue), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu – resolved not to work with Atiku unless the perceived marginalisation of the South in the main opposition party was redressed.

Political pundits who have followed the developments say it will take more than Ayu’s resignation to bring the Integrity Group back to the party’s fold.

Sule Lamido, a chieftain of the party and former governor of Jigawa State, believes that the party and Atiku have moved on.

The crisis led to the exit of Walid Jibril from the position of chairman, PDP Board of Trustees.

Jibril, while assessing the issue, agreed that northerners were dominating powerful leadership positions in the party.

“To tell the truth, it will not be fair for the president of Nigeria to be from the North, the chairman and the BoT chairman from the North,” he had said.

Jibril confirmed that efforts made to resolve the issue causing disaffection among stalwarts and members failed to achieve the desired results.

“Whatever was needed was done and we did so in the interest of the party to make the party remain as PDP.”