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PDP: Party elders move to constitute campaign team, seek patience to end crisis

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh (Abuja) and Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt)
11 August 2022   |   3:52 am
Leaders of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, met in Abuja, and have given approval for the constitution of the presidential campaign council ahead...

Ayu (front), PDP Chairman

Mimiko: PDP needs Wike for its rescue mission
• Wike, no ordinary member, the party must follow tradition, says Baraje

Leaders of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, met in Abuja, and have given approval for the constitution of the presidential campaign council ahead of the commencement of election campaigns next month.

It was gathered that the party’s presidential candidate and other organs of the party, including the National Working Committee (NWC), the Caucus and the Board of Trustees (BoT), have agreed to go ahead with the constitution of the party’s presidential campaign council.

Yesterday, the party was billed to hold its Caucus and National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, but it was shelved owing to internal wrangling between camps of its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike.

A top-ranking member of the party, who is familiar with the issue but elected to speak in confidence, said: “We held a major consultative meeting, yesterday, and I can assure you that the membership of the council will be announced within the next two weeks.

“Campaigns start next month, we want to be up and running before this happens. We have been reaching out to our members nationwide, including our respected leaders in Rivers.

“Finer details of our next steps are being worked out. You know the PDP, being a very large family, has a lot of tendencies and individuals and groups have egos that require massaging, we are doing that.

“There are those pushing for us to wield the big stick but the majority are more favourably disposed to ongoing conciliatory efforts because we are in opposition, we need everyone more than the ruling party.”

Another party leader said: “The PDP has dealt with bigger challenges, this one too has come and it will go. Governor Wike, whose name is being mentioned anytime our current challenges are cited, is a party man, he has said it himself.

“He has other party leaders who respect him and look up to him to protect their political interests and whatsoever those interests may be, he feels an obligation to protect those who stuck out their necks for him during his bid for the ticket.
 
“It is the pursuit of this that has delayed us till now, but we must make progress, we have an election to win and there will be positions of responsibilities to be given out. It is the patience component that is the issue at the moment.”

When contacted, an aide to the presidential candidate said: “Substantial progress is being made with regards to resolving outstanding issues. My principal has assured the party and all members that everyone will be carried along. That commitment has not changed.”

MEANWHILE, former governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, has said Wike has been a “countervailing force” protecting the PDP. He said this, yesterday, during the flag-off of the construction of the Azikiwe-Iloabuchi road in Port Harcourt, the Rivers capital.

There have been speculations over if Wike will support the party in the run-up to the elections next year following raging controversy since the Rivers governor lost the presidential and vice-presidential tickets.

Speaking yesterday, Mimiko said Wike has played a critical role in making PDP a strong opposition party, and in preventing the ruling party from foisting a one-party system on Nigerians.

The former Ondo governor lauded the doggedness of Wike. “Beyond the self-evident physical transformation, you (Wike) have stood as a bulwark against those sworn to emasculate the main opposition party, all in their bid to force a one-party state down the throats of Nigerians,” he said.

ALSO weighing in, a former national chairman of the party, Abubakar Baraje, has said Wike is not just a crucial member of the party, but a strong leader.

Speaking against the backdrop of Wike’s face-off with Atiku over the choice of the party’s running mate, which has seen the Rivers governor meeting with some chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) believed to be ‘Tinubu’s men’ and the invitation extended to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State to commission a flyover in Port Harcourt, Baraje defended Wike, stressing that he has not engaged in any anti-party affair.

He said: “One of the resolutions of PDP’s BoT was for Atiku to meet with Wike, and they have met; another meeting may come up.

“Until Wike declares that he is no longer a member of PDP, as far as PDP is concerned, he is not just an ordinary member but a leader of our party, a governor of our party.

“As far as we are concerned, Wike has not done anything that is anti-party; he is still behaving within the law. He has not done anything that goes against the rules and regulations of PDP. We are still meeting with Wike, and we believe that soon all the hullabaloo will be over.”

On the calls for the national chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, to resign, Baraje said there is a tradition set to guide the way things are done in the party and it would be wrong to deviate from those traditions because the National Chairman.

“We have a tradition and we cannot just waive the law because of one person,” he said.

According to tradition, there should be a balance when selecting candidates for each office in the political party. However, at the moment, the PDP’s national chairman and presidential candidate are both from the North, and according to their tradition, the national chairman must resign from his position.

“That’s how it has been done in the past and we cannot just change it now. We won’t want to do what will harm the party. When Goodluck Jonathan became president after the death of Umaru Yar’Adua, the then national chairman of the party, Vincent Ogbulafor had to go.”