Monday, 2nd October 2023

Rumpus in PDP over calls for Ayu’s removal, Wike’s ‘shabby’ treatment

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh (Abuja Deputy Bureau Chief), Seye Olumide(Southwest Bureau Chief) and Ayodele Afolabi (Ado-Ekiti)
30 June 2022   |   3:58 am
Eight months to the 2023 general elections, the centre seems not to be firm in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as moves to oust its national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, leaked yesterday...

Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa (left) being presented by PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu (middle) as running mate to presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar (right) at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA<br />

I remain PDP’s national chairman, Ayu insists
• PDP stakeholders disagree on calls for Ayu’s resignation
• 11 governors absent from the Osun campaign council’s inauguration
• Fayose tacitly declares support for Southern president
• Atiku insulted Wike by sending emissaries, says Ortom
• Lamido: PDP made Wike, must save him from his anger

Eight months to the 2023 general elections, the centre seems not to be firm in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as moves to oust its national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, leaked yesterday.

Even as Ayu boasted that he remains the party’s national chairman, the intrigues surrounding the emergence of the party’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates and how the fallouts were managed have continued to put him in the eye of the storm.

Wike. Photo/https://www.facebook/GovernorNyesomEzenwoWikeCON/

Some members of the National Executive Committee (NEC), yesterday, disclosed that the mood in the party called for a change of leadership, particularly, the office of the national chairman, to reposition it and strengthen the PDP ahead of the general elections.

Part of the sins of Ayu include, alleged mismanagement of party affairs before and after the party’s presidential primary, most importantly, how he managed the emergence of Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as running mate to Atiku Abubakar.

He had explained that Atiku asked the party leadership to recommend a suitable person as a running mate and he set up a committee, which submitted three names, but Atiku picked one.

Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, while answering questions in a television programme on Arise TV, yesterday, said: “I was among the 17-member committee set up by Atiku and 14 of us in the committee said the person should be Wike.

Unfortunately, Atiku picked Okowa in his wisdom. You cannot ignore the decision of a committee you set up yourself and expect people to be happy.”

When reminded that the camp of Atiku has been trying to reach out to Wike, but he has been ignoring their calls, Ortom said: “They should stop that. Atiku should go to him (Wike). Why won’t he ignore their calls? Is that not an insult? Wike is a pillar in the party.

“Currently, nobody in the party has contributed more for the party to move forward than Wike. If Atiku was not going to honour the decision of the committee, he should have called Wike earlier and informed him. He didn’t do that. You can’t do things anyhow and expect us to be happy,” he stressed.

Ortom further urged the PDP leadership to go to Wike and appeal to him, insisting that the PDP has treated Wike badly.

Ortom also claimed that it was Wike who brought him back to PDP in 2015 when he was treated unjustly. “Why do you just send calls to Wike, you should have to go to him,” Ortom said.

Recall that Wike has been involved lately in closed-door meetings with some top politicians who visited his country home in Port Harcourt shortly after the presidential primary and selection of Okowa as running mate.

Just last week, the governor met with Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party; Governor David Umahi of the APC; Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP) and the Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed.

The visits were a sequel to a strong rumour of Wike’s alleged plan to dump the PDP after failing to become running mate to Atiku.

Meanwhile, Wike left the shores of Nigeria for a holiday in Turkey on Tuesday. He shared some pictures of his vacation on his official Twitter handle, where he posed with his Abia State counterpart, Okezie Ikpeazu.
FORMER governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, has described Wike as a “forceful” person who should be saved from his own anger.

“Governor Wike is somebody who is very forceful, who has done so well as a governor of PDP in his own state and who has been very supportive of the PDP. But again, he was made by the PDP. He is somebody we must make sure we preserve and we must rescue him from his own anger,” said Lamido.

Lamido, who spoke yesterday to newsmen, said Wike has done well for the PDP and is fit to be Nigeria’s president after Atiku.

“Wike is a huge treasure for the PDP and one of the best materials. If we win (in 2023), he is the natural heir to the throne because he has the quality, aura, charm, charisma and age. I have been saying this: PDP is a family. There was a primary election and there were expectations but some of them were not met. So, it is natural for one to react. I can understand that,” Lamido said.

Some party officials close to the NWC accused Ayu of managing the finances of the party like his own private company. He was equally accused of mishandling or sabotaging the Ekiti governorship campaigns in such a manner that party stakeholders could not agree on a workable winning formula.

The delay by Ayu to honour the reported ‘gentleman’s agreement’ said to have been sealed between him and presidential aspirants to the effect that the national chairman would resign if the party’s presidential candidate emerged from the North, is a key factor in the crisis.

And ahead of the expected removal or resignation of Ayu, key party leaders are said to have begun consultation on which zone should produce the next chairman.

Findings suggested that the Southeast geo-political zone is highly favoured to produce the next national chairman if Ayu resigns. This will offer the party useful opportunity to balance and compensate the region, which had been aggrieved for not zoning the presidency to the Southeast.

Meanwhile, Ayu said, yesterday, that he remained the national chairman of the party. His media adviser, Simon Imobo-Tswam, in a statement, said “Ayu took a well-deserved two-week leave on June 21. He will be back next week to resume duties, specifically on July 6.

“As a stickler for due process, Ayu formally handed over to the Deputy National Chairman (North), Amb. Umar Damagun, who has held forth admirably since that day. It was in that acting capacity that he (Damagun) today (Wednesday), presided over the inauguration of the Osun State Gubernatorial Campaign Council, headed by the governor of Bayelsa State, Douye Diri.”

MEANWHILE, 11 of the 12 governors appointed to lead the party’s campaign for the July 16 governorship election in Osun, were absent yesterday, at the inauguration held at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.

Diri, who was supposed to be the chairman of the campaign council, was equally absent. The only governor in the council who attended was Darius Ishaku of Taraba.

Also absent from the inauguration were governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto), Ikpeazu (Abia), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Ortom (Benue), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri (Adamawa) and Bala Mohammed (Bauchi). No reason was given by the absentees.

In a remark at the inauguration ceremony, vice presidential candidate of the party and Delta State governor, Okowa, charged the committee to work together to facilitate the party’s victory in Osun.

According to him, Osun is a PDP state, which will be recaptured if all leaders and followers in the state quickly bridge the gap of division among them.

FOLLOWING the crisis confronting the NWC of the party, key stakeholders shared divergent views on the matter yesterday.

While some argued that Ayu has no moral justification to stay for a minute as the national chairman because the party’s constitution states that a region cannot produce the president and national chairman at the same time, others said the timing, for now, does not justify that he (Ayu) should resign.

They said that the incumbent chairman can as well wait till after the election in February next year and if Atiku wins, he (Ayu) can then resign.

Speaking on the development, a former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George, said it was better for Ayu to honour his words and save the party from the unnecessary crisis.

He said what is at hand requires that the leadership do everything possible and expedient to ensure that Nigerians see the party as a united front that represents the interests of all the six geo-political zones.

George, who said he would like to refrain from making strong comments at present on the issue pending when the incumbent national chairman will do the needful, said: “My concern is that necessary things must be done to ensure that PDP wins next year’s presidential election, including if Ayu must have to resign now and bring in a Southerner.”

However, a one-time member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said he would reserve his comments and keep a tab on development in the party.

Also calling on Ayu to resign immediately, former chairman of Ogun PDP, Adebayo Dayo, said it was inconsistent on the part of the national chairman to claim he would resign after Atiku might have won the presidency next year.

But taking a contrary position, former National Vice Chairman, Southwest Zone, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, said calling on Ayu to resign now is the wrong timing.

Also speaking in line with Olafeso, another chieftain of the party in Lagos, Dr Olatokunbo Pearse, said he wished President Muhammad Buhari “had not put Nigeria into such an ethnic box we now found ourselves in. I don’t see any big deal in allowing Ayu to stay till the end of the election next year.

“But it is no longer the PDP matter now, we have people who would love to vote for us but trust the opposition APC will use that to campaign seriously against us in the South.”

WHILE the crisis is brewing, the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, yesterday, insisted that it was the turn of the South to produce the next president after the expiration of two terms of eight years of President Buhari in the spirit of equity, fairness and justice.

The former governor, who disclosed this in a statement via his verified Twitter handle (Gov@Ayo Fayose), argued that section 3(c) of the PDP Constitution provides for a rotational presidency. This, definitely, goes against the interest of his party, PDP, which has settled for a Northerner, Atiku as a presidential candidate.

Fayose, who didn’t mention the party and candidate he would be supporting next year among the array of presidential candidates from the South, urged Nigerians to await his decision soonest.

Related to that, the Ekiti State governor-elect, Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, on Wednesday, paid a courtesy visit to the Lagos residence of Fayose.

A statement by the media aide of Oyebanji, Raheem Akingbolu, said the visit was a sequel to the congratulatory messages sent to Oyebanji by the PDP candidate in the June 18 election, Chief Bisi Kolawole, Ekiti chapter of PDP and Fayose respectively, hailing the outcome of the election won by the APC candidate.

Oyebanji said the visit was to extend courtesies to Fayose as a former governor of the state, who, according to him, demonstrated statesmanship by congratulating him shortly after he was declared winner of the June 18 election.

Fayose, while receiving the governor-elect, urged him to be magnanimous in victory and to see himself as the leader of the people regardless of their political affiliation. He promised to support Oyebanji’s administration in whatever area his support would be needed, adding that the development of Ekiti is a collective effort.