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Wike, G5 muse over final notice to Ayu, Southern governors’ Lagos declaration

By Leo Sobechi (Deputy Politics Editor), Azimazi Momoh Jimoh and Sodiq Omolaoye, Abuja
30 December 2022   |   3:58 am
• G5 consensus on power shift vindicates 19 APC govs’ stance, says Okechukwu • Ayu escalating PDP crisis, he should resign, says CUPP spokesman • Govs to rest speculations on London trip today As the group of five state governors (G5/Integrity Group) opposed to the continued stay in office of Senator Iyorchia Ayu as Peoples…

• G5 consensus on power shift vindicates 19 APC govs’ stance, says Okechukwu
• Ayu escalating PDP crisis, he should resign, says CUPP spokesman
• Govs to rest speculations on London trip today

As the group of five state governors (G5/Integrity Group) opposed to the continued stay in office of Senator Iyorchia Ayu as Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman reportedly meets in London to take a final stand on next year’s general election, indications have emerged that the governors would issue a final warning to the embattled party leader to quit before January 5, 2023.

A source within the Integrity Group, who spoke to The Guardian on discussions that preceded the governors’ retreat to London, said majority of the governors favour a final demand on the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to prevail on Ayu to resign as earlier agreed.

The source said: “You know that the governors are not going this alone. There are levels of consultations and meetings within the Integrity Group. The governors meet with various leaders of the party, including state chairmen. Thereafter, there is another small caucus that involves other leaders, like former governors, including Ayo Fayose, former National Deputy Chairman, Chief Bode George, and others.

“Apart from the need to issue a final warning to Ayu, it was generally resolved that in the event that our presidential candidate pretends that he is powerless to make Ayu honour the gentleman agreement to quit, the governors would take a strong and decisive stand. They will be equivocal.”

The source said it is not possible for anybody, even among the five governors, to say, exactly, where the pendulum would swing, stressing that despite various perspectives held by the governors, individually, they are resolved on power shift if Ayu does not resign between December 31, 2022 and January 5, 2023.

But PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Debo Ologunagba, dismissed insinuations that the G5 governors are planning to dump PDP and its presidential candidate, stressing that those insinuations are no longer new.

The spokesman expressed optimism that the party would reconcile any differences and forge ahead as a united and formidable force to win next year’s election, even as he pointed out that the chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, and other leaders are talking with the G5.

However, the leader of Ward2Ward4Atiku, Abraham Chila, said the party has gone beyond the issue of whether the national chairman would resign, pointing out that barely two months to the presidential election, it does not make sense to seek Ayu’s removal.

He said: “Wike and the G5 know that the odds are stacked against them. Time is not in their favour to press for Ayu’s resignation. It is clear that Atiku is on the road to clinching the poll. Nigerians know that they need an experienced hand to guide the country away from the current state of hopelessness.”

But, expressing belief that the G5 is displaying statesmanship and patriotism, a founding member of All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, said it is gratifying to note that Wike and the other governors are resolved on power rotation.

Okechukwu, who is also Director General of Voice of Nigeria, remarked that the G5 governors’ position “tallies with the noble and courageous stance of their 19 northern APC counterparts, which led to the emergence of former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as APC presidential candidate.”

While remarking that the G5 consensus on rotation of presidency to the South has effectively ruled out the PDP’s presidential candidate, Okechukwu said it is left to the group to decide between the two front-runners from the South – Tinubu and the candidate of Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi.

In a related development, the spokesman for Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), Ikenga Ugochinyere, accused Ayu of escalating the crisis rocking the party.

Ikenga, who is the PDP House of Representatives candidate for Ideato North South Constituency of Imo state, frowned at the decision by Ayu to challenge the victory of Ideato South House of Assembly candidate, Chris Ogbu at the Supreme Court.

Ugochinyere, in a statement yesterday, described the move as provocative and laden with consequences.

He described Ayu as a man trying to score petty revenge against Ogbu for challenging his (Ayu’s) continued stay in office.

Ugochinyere insisted: “Ayu will not be PDP national chairman before 2023 general elections for this petty attempt he made.”

He added: “It’s actually shocking that a man whose house is on fire, rather than looking for ways to douse the fire, is busy escalating it. It’s not his first time doing this. He’s fond of plotting against party candidates that oppose him.”

Meanwhile, a source close to the G5 told The Guardian yesterday, that although the governors had gone to London to, among other matters, try to see the former deputy president of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, the meeting offered them opportunity to review their political face-off with the leadership of the PDP.

The source said: “I can assure you that all the speculations about the trip by the G-5 governors will be rested on Friday (today), when they address a press conference in Port Harcourt.

“What I know about this particular London trip is that it was originally motivated by the need to check on Ekweremadu. Perhaps, other issues may have come up as they met. Whatever is the case, Nigerians will hear from them on Friday because they will speak when they arrive Nigerian via Port Harcourt.”

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