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2023: Obi quits PDP, eyes Labour, NNPP tickets

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Leo Sobechi and Adamu Abuh (Abuja)
26 May 2022   |   4:30 am
Former governor of Anambra State and erstwhile presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi, yesterday, resigned his membership of the party two days before its presidential primary.

Former governor of Anambra State presidential aspirant of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

• PDP Northern elders look to North Central for candidate, insist consensus is pathway to stability
• Legal move to stop PDP presidential primary fails
• APC chair hints on consensus pick for party’s presidential flag bearer

Former governor of Anambra State and erstwhile presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi, yesterday, resigned his membership of the party two days before its presidential primary.

He said his resignation was because of the difficulty he faced in carrying out his ‘Rescue Nigeria’ mission through the main opposition party. In a letter dated May 24, 2022 and addressed to the national chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu, Obi said he had already informed the chairman of the PDP chapter in his Agulu Ward 2, in Anambra State.

“I am writing to intimate you of my resignation from the PDP, which was conveyed to the chairman of Agulu Ward 2, Anaocha LGA, effective Friday, May 20, 2022. Consequently, I am by this letter informing you of my withdrawal from the PDP Presidential Primary.

“It has been a great honour to contribute to nation building efforts through our party. Unfortunately, recent developments within our party make it practically impossible to continue participating and making such constructive contributions.”

Director General of Obi’s presidential campaign organisation, Doyin Okupe, who submitted the letter to Ayu at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja, further disclosed that Obi would move to another party to actualise his 2023 presidential ambition. He, however, refused to disclose the party.

It was learnt that Obi’s resignation was not unconnected to the contentious struggle to control the party’s structure in Anambra and the Southeast as a whole.

A former national publicity secretary of the party, Olisa Metuh, had last week expressed frustration about what he called painful developments in the Anambra chapter of the PDP.

Metuh, who had identified Obi as the leader of PDP in Anambra, cautioned Ayu against pandering to the wishes of godfathers. It was further learnt that the main structure in the state is now being controlled by another prominent stakeholder who is working with a governor in one of the South-South states.

BARING any last minute change in plans, the former PDP Vice Presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections may contest next year’s presidential poll on Labour Party (LP) platform, though sources disclosed that there are ongoing talks with Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso-led New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

The Guardian gathered that following the decision of Ayu to hand over materials for the election of three-man delegates to a self-acclaimed political godfather of Anambra, Chief Chris Uba, Obi decided to resign his membership of the party.

Recall also that Obi’s supporters have been mounting pressure on him to seek an alternative platform to sustain the popular momentum and save his presidential aspiration.

Discreet enquiries revealed that no sooner than he sent in his resignation letter to the PDP ward chairman at Agulu ward 2, that Obi travelled to the United Kingdom, where he met with the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and intimated him (Johnson) of his intention to join the ‘Labour fold.’

However, in separate telephone conversations with the national chairman and national secretary of Labour Party, Mr. Julius Abure and Alhaji Umar Farouk Ibrahim, both national officers denied knowledge of Obi’s planned entry into the party.

While Alhaji Ibrahim stated that a political party was like a stadium, which admits anybody to come and participate, the national chairman, Abure, said he could not immediately comment on such issues, stressing that the party exists for the people.

MEANWHILE, there are ongoing moves by Northern leaders to ensure that PDP’s presidential candidate enjoys the support of majority of Nigerians. The moves were intensified during the week to push for a candidate from the North-Central to serve as a bridge builder. 

One of the leaders involved in this latest move and who hails from the Northwest disclosed to The Guardian that “what the PDP needs is a presidential candidate that can assuage certain fears and long-held apprehension, which continue to sow division in the country.

“If the demography was that straightforward, nothing would have stopped our party from mobilising massively for a Southern candidate, but contemporary reality, as well as the game going on in the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), suggests that our candidate should be a person that will appeal to almost all Nigerians from the different zones. 

“It is in view of this that some of us have started and we are making good progress, to ensure that the North Central zone, which has neither been given a vice presidential nor a presidential slot, produces our candidate,” the source said.

The high-ranking PDP stakeholder who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The Southeast, too, has never produced a president but it has produced a vice president before. We are reaching out to leaders in Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum and Ohaneze.

“It is about the votes in the general election and a North Central candidate would not make the North lose face while, at the same time, leaders in Afenifere and Ohaneze with an alliance with MBF may not be too alienated. We are in back end consultations preparatory to ensuring that our candidate has the necessary mass appeal.

“All our aspirants are sound and they can rescue this sinking ship that Nigeria has become, but in politics, you need to look at the numbers and weigh your options correctly.”

On the issue of consensus candidacy that produced Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed and former Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, he said: “Look at the aspirants and their track record as well as the issue of baggage. Is it in terms of being able to work with other colleagues or being sellable to Nigerians, especially the business community and the youth?

“Each person has a record and it is there for all to see. When you were a governor, a vice president or a legislator, what did you achieve and how will that help our party and Nigeria? These are the issues.”

WITH two days to go, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, suspended further proceedings on a suit seeking to halt the scheduled presidential primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) till June 1.

Justice Donatus Okorowo deferred further hearing on the matter to await the decision of the Court of Appeal in Abuja. The adjournment came on a day a former Vice President and presidential aspirant of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, applied to be joined as an interested party in the matter.

It will be recalled that PDP had fixed Saturday, May 28, to conduct its presidential primary election, and to that effect, screened 17 aspirants that obtained its presidential form to contest in the 2023 election.

However, an aggrieved aspirant, Mr. Cosmas Ndukwe, approached the court to challenge the scheduled presidential primary on the premise that PDP was planning to act in breach of its own zoning formula.

He told the court that the party had an arrangement that allowed for the rotation of elective offices, insisting that by that process, it ought to be the turn of the Southern part of the country, especially the Southeast geopolitical zone, to produce the next president.

Ndukwe, who is a former Deputy Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, also filed an application for an order of injunction to restrain his party from proceeding with the primary election, pending the hearing and determination of his suit.

Though the court declined to issue a restraining order, it, however, directed the plaintiff to put all the defendants on notice to enable them to appear before it to show cause why the primary election should not be halted.

Aside from the PDP, other defendants in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/508/2022, were its National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, Chairman of its Primary Election Planning Committee/National Secretary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

At the resumed proceedings yesterday, Mr. Aliyu M. Aliyu (SAN), who appeared for the PDP chairman, Ayu, told the court that he has entered an appeal before the Court of Appeal in Abuja. He, therefore, urged the court to temporarily hands-off the case since the appellant had already okayed hearing on the case.

Besides, he drew attention of the court to the fact that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to institute the action, stressing that he is not one of the presidential aspirants of the party.

Other defendants in the case aligned with Aliyu’s position and urged the court to adjourn the matter. Though counsel to the plaintiff, Mr. Paul Erokoro (SAN), urged the court to refuse the request for adjournment, in a bench ruling, Justice Okorowo said he was minded to grant it.

More so, the court said there was need to suspend the proceedings since one of the parties seeking to be joined in the matter, Atiku, has not been heard.

“In the present case, there is a motion for joinder, an application which the court cannot ignore. I hereby order an adjournment in view of the motion for stay at the Court of Appeal. Matter is hereby adjourned to June 1 for continuation of hearing,” Justice Okorowo held.

IN another development, the National Chairman of the ruling APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, yesterday, dropped the hint of how the presidential flag bearer of the party would emerge.

Adamu, in an interview with select Hausa service media outfits in Abuja, disclosed that the party’s flag bearer must heed the guidelines stipulated by the party. Adamu who did not stipulate the guidelines promised a fair deal for all 28 presidential aspirants jostling for the ticket of the party.

The Nasarawa-born politician described the deluge of as indicative of the level of acceptability of the party by Nigerians. He said: “You can’t stop our party stalwarts from contesting election or aspiring for the presidency. It is their rights and we are happy for them. There is nothing wrong for anybody aspiring for the exalted seat of the presidency. 

“It is God that decides who gets what. Once God makes up his mind and say this is who He wants, that is what we are praying for. We have 28 aspirants for the presidential ticket and everybody knows that all of them cannot get the ticket.

“If it’s God wish they all can even be president of the country one after the other. Ours is to ensure justice in the choice of who emerges candidate of the party. That does not mean we are perfect. But we pray we do the right thing.”

Asked whether the party is thinking along the line of consensus arrangement just like the way he emerged the chairman of the party, he retorted: “There is no truth in what you said. Reason is the chairmanship seat is not the same as that of the tussle for the presidency of the country. 

“You can’t even compare the two of them. That question does not arise. However the party has laid down its rules and regulations for the aspirants. We would scrutinise all of them based on our guidelines to be sure we pick the right candidate for the party.”

The APC chief faulted the notion held in certain quarters that the high number of presidential aspirants is in line with the grand design to extend the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Asked whether the party has settled the issue of zoning arrangement of the exalted seat of the presidency, he said: “We have not produced our candidate for the presidency yet. We have to screen the aspirants to know the way forward. We have aspirants from across the country in the race. We will take the decision when we get there.”

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