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I won’t step down, Ayu speaks as PDP crisis gets messier

By Adamu Abuh, Sodiq Omolaoye, Ameh Ochojila (Abuja), Saxone Akhaine, AbdulGaniyu Alabi (Kaduna) and Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan)
01 September 2022   |   4:35 am
The war of words between the two contending forces in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was renewed yesterday, as PDP national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, the man in the centre of the controversy between the party’s presidential flag-bearer, Atiku Abubakar...

National Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sen. Iyorchia Ayu

• ‘Those calling for my resignation are children’
• Court adjourns Wike’s suit against Atiku, PDP to September 14  
• Obi didn’t strike deal with Atiku, says Okupe
• Omokri, Adeyanju slam Tinubu over visit to Jonathan
• Tinubu’s visit shows no ideological difference on politics, says Farounbi

The war of words between the two contending forces in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was renewed yesterday, as PDP national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, the man in the centre of the controversy between the party’s presidential flag-bearer, Atiku Abubakar and Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, described persons calling for his resignation as ‘children.’ 

Ayu has been under pressure lately, with calls for his resignation coming from different quarters amid the party’s internal crisis. The camp loyal to Wike had demanded that Ayu should step down as a precondition for resolving the rift with Atiku and to re-tilt the balance of power in the party favouring the North.

But speaking in an interview with BBC Hausa yesterday, Ayu said he is not bothered by calls for his resignation. He said: “I was voted as PDP chairman for a four-year tenure and I am yet to complete a year. Atiku’s emergence as flag-bearer or victory in 2023 doesn’t affect the chairman’s position, even if the candidate is from Benue State, I stood for election and I was voted for based on our party’s Constitution. 

“I didn’t commit any offence. I’m only reforming the party, so, I’m not bothered with all the noise. I know I’m doing my work and I didn’t steal any money, so, I see no reason for all these talks.  

“When we started the PDP journey, we did not see these children. They are children who do not know why we established this party. We will not allow one person to come and destroy our party.”

When asked in specific terms to comment on the conditions of Wike’s camp’s call for his resignation among others, he said: “All that he is doing does not affect me because I know I am fixing the party, I am doing my work diligently. We will not allow one person to become a spoiler, this is our party, so, all that is expected of us is to fix the country, provide security and dividends of democracy when we take over power in 2023.”

MEANWHILE, Justice A.R. Mohammed of the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja yesterday, adjourned a suit, which sought the court’s pronouncement declaring Wike as PDP’s presidential candidate for the 2023 poll. Justice Mohammed adjourned the suit after a motion for extension of time was granted to counsel for the respondents, Priscilla Eje.

The plaintiffs’ counsel, Wilfred Okoi, who acknowledged receipt of counter claims to his originating summons and respondents’ motion of notice for extension of time, however, did not oppose the application for extension of time. The court, therefore, adjourned the matter to September 14 for hearing. 

Though it was stridently denied, Wike had filed the suit challenging the outcome of the party’s presidential primary. According to court documents, Wike sued the PDP, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Atiku, and Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State as defendants.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/782/2022, Wike and a PDP chieftain, Newgent Ekamon were mentioned as plaintiffs. Wike came second behind Atiku in the primary held in May. Tambuwal, also a presidential aspirant, stepped down for Atiku at the last minute. Of the 767 accredited ballots at the election, Atiku polled 371 votes, while his closest challenger, Wike, came second with 237 votes.

A former presidential aide, Doyin Okupe, yesterday, denied report that presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, has struck a deal with Atiku Abubakar with respect to the 2023 election. Obi was Atiku’s running mate for the PDP in the 2019 presidential election.

Okupe, who noted that the former Anambra State governor is enjoying massive support of Nigerians, especially youths, in a statement maintained that Obi cannot be negotiating with any other less popular candidates or their parties.

“Members of the public are hereby advised to ignore this cheap, self-serving and distracting propaganda, which we also believe is not coming from the Atiku camp.
“The train of the Obi-dient movement gathers more and more electorate on a hourly basis, while it is evident that the political fortunes and followership of the other parties diminish and recede like a drying lake in the scorching heat of an arid desert.”

For the ruling All progressive congress (APC), a purported parley between the presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and 22 of his rivals at the national convention of the party failed to hold yesterday in Abuja.

The parley convened by one of the presidential aspirants, Dr. Nicolas Felix, was aimed at adopting campaign strategies to ensure the victory of Tinubu in the 2023 poll.

Felix, in a terse statement, disclosed that the parley had been postponed, adding that a new date for the meeting will be communicated in due course. Scores of APC youths yesterday stormed the national secretariat of the party to protest the alleged attempt by the national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, to anoint Usman Baba Kankia, in disregard to Tinubu’s alleged preferred choice of Umar Farouk as national president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).

Armed security personnel attached to the secretariat were forced to release several canisters of teargas to disperse the aggrieved students led by Segun Dada, who aspired for the APC national youth leader position in the recently held national convention of the party.

An eyewitness, identified as Musa Bello, claimed that Dada’s attempt to force his way into the secretariat led to the fracas. According to him the surprising thing is that Dada is not a stranger at the secretariat because he worked for some years here. “But, he was not however diplomatic in handling the situation, otherwise it would not have degenerated to the extent of using canisters of teargas to disperse the youths.

“Yes, Dada was on genuine mission to brief the leadership on how PDP elements in APC have hijacked the election, as directed by the youth leader, but what we cannot understand was why he came with those hefty boys that fought the security agents.

“One of the candidates for NANS election, Umar Farouk from BUK Kano is Tinubu’s choice, while Usman Baba Kankia from ABU, Zaria is the initial choice of Adamu and the Presidency. However, Usman Baranbu from Federal University Dutse is the popular choice of students’ leaders and stakeholders.

“So, what happened at the secretariat was a display of forces and a dress rehearsal of what to expect during Thursday’s NANS election.”

MEANWHILE, reactions have continued to trail Tuesday’s visit of Tinubu and APC governors to former president Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja. Former media aide to Jonathan, Reno Omokri, slammed Tinubu over the visit.

Sharing pictures from the visit yesterday, Omokri hailed Jonathan’s composure amid what he described as attacks on him by Tinubu from 2010 to 2015, saying the ex-President never bore a grudge despite this. According to him, Jonathan is the best leader Nigeria has had.

Tinubu, who was accompanied by his running mate, Senator Kashim Shetimma, led a delegation of five APC governors. They included the Governor of Plateau State and Director-General of his Presidential Campaign Council, Simon Lalong; his Ogun State counterpart, Dapo Abiodun; Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawale; Jigawa State governor, Abubakar Badaru and Kwara State governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.

The meeting, which was held behind closed doors in Jonathan’s residence, was in continuation of Tinubu’s nationwide consultation with critical stakeholders. Omokri wrote, “Jonathan, the best leader that Nigeria ever had. Look at his godly gesture. Tinubu spent five years between 2010-2015 insulting, attacking and lying against Jonathan. Even after Jonathan left office, he continued. Yet, Jonathan never bore a grudge!”

Also, in reaction to the visit, former Nigerian Ambassador to the Philippines, Dr. Yemi Farounbi, urged supporters of politicians not to be blindfolded followers.
Farounbi lamented that the development showed that there is no difference between the two principal political parties. He said: “The visit shows that there is no difference between the head or tail. That is why it is easy to be in one party in the morning and another in evening. It only shows that what matters to politicians is to win. It has nothing to do with ideology.”

The elder statesman, therefore, urged supporters of politicians to be objective and stop being blind followers. “Be an objective follower. Look at the competence and character of the person you are supporting. Don’t blindfold yourself because of any candidate,” he advised.

Similarly, activist and convener of Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju, has said APC is planning to use and dump Jonathan. Adeyanju reminded the former President of the role the APC ‘cabals’ played during its presidential primary earlier this year, saying he earlier warned him of ‘use and dump.’

Reacting via a Facebook post, Adeyanju said: “Dear Goodluck Jonathan, you won’t die if you don’t support anyone in this election. During the APC primaries when the cabal were deceiving you, hope you remember all my warnings to you that they just wanted to use and dump you. A word is enough for the wise.”