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Like Oshiomhole and APC; PDP, Ayu begin journey to uncertainty

By Leo Sobechi, Deputy Politics Editor, (Abuja) and Sampson Kukwa-Yanor (Makurdi)
31 March 2023   |   3:10 am
The sudden suspension from office of immediate past national chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, threw up many questions and scant answers. Is PDP walking the treacherous path as the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), to set up a caretaker committee?


The sudden suspension from office of immediate past national chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, threw up many questions and scant answers. Is PDP walking the treacherous path as the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), to set up a caretaker committee?

Would the party survive the latest ordeal after another trouncing at the general elections, which it is contesting in court? Was Ayu a double agent that worked for APC, while holding the reins of PDP? Could his removal become the second round of the embattled former chairman’s spat with the G5 governors/integrity group?

The news of Ayu’s sudden removal from office broke in staccato form: First, was a denial and an attempt at debating the constitutionality of the said suspension from his Igyorov Ward, in Benue State. While someone was in Abuja, describing the PDP Ward executives that suspended him as illiterates and ignoramuses, a chieftain of the party was at the High Court perfecting papers to give a legal seal on the disciplinary action.

Not that alone, the embattled Ayu tried to introduce divide and rule among the Igyorov Ward executives in a desperate attempt to vitiate the import of the majority decision on his chairmanship.

It should be noted that the Executive Committee of Igyorov Ward, Gboko Local Government Area of the state, had last Sunday passed a resolution in which it suspended the former national chairman from membership of the party.

Ayu was accused of gross misbehaviour, including failure to pay his annual dues as stipulated in the PDP Constitution as well as anti-party activities leading to the party’s loss of the presidential, National Assembly, Governorship and Sate Assembly elections.

However, in his characteristic condescension that pitted him against the G5 and Integrity Group within the party, Ayu descended on the Ward executives. Apart from dismissing their actions as bordering on inability to read and understand the stipulations of the PDP Constitution, he accused the executives as hirelings doing the bidding of “political gamblers to cause mischief and nothing more.”

In a statement through his Special Assistant on Media, Simon Imobo-Tswam, Ayu declared: “We wish to state categorically and with all emphasis at our disposal thus, Article 57(7) of the PDP Constitution as Amended in 2017, expressly prohibits any organ of the party or executive committee of the party at the Ward or State Level from taking any disciplinary measure against any member of the party’s National Executive Committee.

“The purported suspension is, therefore, an exercise in futility as it derives its strength majorly from gross illiteracy, ignorance, gambling and desperation. It has only mischief, drama and propaganda value.

“But, more than this, the so-called suspension letter was written by an illiterate before hand, and only given to the coerced members to sign somewhere in Makurdi. This is why the original date is tipexed and 24 March imposed on it. And this is also why it states that the presidential/NASS and Governorship/State Assembly elections held on 25th and 18th March, 2023 respectively.”

Apparently in a vain effort to play along and spew the damning narrative of imperfect removal, the Benue State PDP chairman, Mr Isaac Teryila Mfo, told The Guardian that he is unaware of the purported suspension of PDP Ayu from the party.

Short of swearing by the Bible, Mfo declared: “Nothing of such has come to my table, neither have I any knowledge of that. People have kept asking me (about that) in the past few hours, but I don’t know where that news emanates from.”

It was gathered however that the decision to hit Ayu from the Ward level followed discussion among the G5 governors after Ayu went on a disciplinary binge, suspending and expelling well-heeled members of the party, including former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim and former Ekiti State governor, Peter Ayo Fayose.

The plot and its executive achieved its purpose, when a video clip was released on social media, showing the Igyorov Ward chairman, Mr. Phillips Karshi, flanked by the Secretary, Vangeryina Dooyum; announcing the suspension of Ayu.

Without specifying that the national chairman was being punished for the stated infractions, the Ward chairman careful stated that Ayu’s membership was being put in abeyance, particularly for his alleged failure to vote during the recent general elections.

In waving his big stick, Ayu had recommended his home state governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, who is also a hefty member of the G5, for disciplinary committee, thereby setting the stage for a rehash of Governor Godwin Obaseki versus Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-like skirmish in APC.

By the time Ayu’s suspension became public, his close allies initiated frantic face=saving measures to push back on the damaging development. But, they all amounted to so little too late.

First, was a statement by Ayu’s Special Adviser on Media and Communications Simon Imobo-Tswam, followed by a press conference addressed by one of the former national chairman’s closest allies, Terzungwe Atser, who is also a one-time chairman of Benue Internal Revenue Service (BIRS).

However, the most dramatic was by a splinter group from Igyorov Ward, which passed a vote of confidence on the embattled former national chairman. Intriguingly, names of the Ward chairman and his secretary, who announced the vote of no confidence and suspension of Ayu, were conspicuously missing on the list of the Ward excos, who endorsed confidence vote on Ayu.

Ayu’s ally, Atser, while addressing journalists, pointedly accused the outgoing governor, Ortom, of masterminding the onslaught by the Igyorov Ward exco against Ayu.

“We are very sure that the Igyorov Ward exco, acting on their own and by themselves cannot contemplate such action. We have information that they have done that under threats to their life, by agents of none other than the governor of Benue State,” Atser stated.

But, while Ayu’s accolytes were busy trying to give him a home shelter from the storm, a Benue State High Court of Justice, Makurdi division, strengthened the suspension by granting an ex parte order, restraining “the national chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Iyorchia Ayu, from parading himself as the national chairman of the party.”

Signs that the hunter was about to become the hunted, emerged when, a PDP stalwart, Conrad Terhide Utaan, filed an ex parte motion, seeking an interim injunction restraining Dr Ayu from further parading himself as the national chairman of the PDP.

In the suit no MHC/85/ 2023 and motion No: MHC/633M/2023 between Conrad Utaan and Senator Iyorchia Ayu and the Peoples Democratic Party as respondents, Justice W. I. Kpochi averred that “the plaintiff/applicant principally seeks “an order of interim injunction restraining the 1st defendant Senator Dr Iyorchia Ayu from further parading himself as the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) having lost membership of the party, pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice already filed.

“The application is supported by a 15 paragraph affidavit to which is annexed 3 exhibits as exhibits A1, A2 and B, which are the applicant’s membership cards of the 2nd defendant’s receipts for payment of dues and the vote of no confidence passed on the first defendants/respondent by the Igyorov council ward of the 2nd defendant in Gboko Local Government.”

The Judge read: “Upon hearing Mr. M. T. Assoh of Learned Counsel ably move the application and upon a dispassionate consideration of the facts placed before me in the pool of the affidavit evidence, and again, upon the consideration of the issues distilled in the written address by M. T. Assoh of Learned Counsel, it is my candid view that this is a proper case to grant the interim injunction as craved.

“Consequently, this application is hereby granted in terms of the reliefs captured in the motion papers as herein before reproduced. It is so ordered.”

After granting the plaintiff’s prayers, Justice Kpochi adjourned the case to April 14, 2023 for hearing.

Chimaroke Nnamani. PIC:WIKIPEDIA

No sooner than the news of Ayu’s suspension came into public sphere that various voices began to ventilate on the matter. First to comment was former Enugu State governor, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, who was suspended and subsequently expelled from PDP midway into his senatorial election for gross anti-party offences.

Maintaining that Ayu was into a peculiar mess (penkelemesi), Nnamani supported his removal from the party, stressing, “his deception and abysmal performance is unmitigated.”

While noting that Ayu’s leadership “brought misfortune to the PDP, because of his ineptitude, greed and wickedness,” Nnamnai wondered why Ayu should try to clutch on the PDP Constitution to resist his removal.

He stated: “Ayu is just an unmitigated disaster. His leadership is an evil that befell the PDP. The only option left is to show him the exit door. He had flagrantly subverted the same section to sack key stakeholders of the party, including me.

“Section 57(7) of the PDP constitution stipulates, that ‘notwithstanding any other provision relating to discipline, no executive committee at any level, except the National Executive Committee (NEC), shall entertain any question of discipline as may relate or concern a member of the National Executive Committee, Deputy Governors or members of the National Assembly.

“The Ayu-led NWC relied on the aforementioned section to expel me, when it obviously lacked the power to do so.  Ayu’s case now is akin to the saying that the evil that men do lives with them. Except Ayu is a man without honour, he has no business remaining in office.

But, a devious dimension was introduced to the Ayu saga by the Chairman of Southeast Governors’ Forum, David Umahi, when he claimed that Ayu actually worked for the electoral triumph of APC despite being national chairman of PDP.

Umahi, who spoke shortly after the news of Ayu’s suspension made national headlines, said Tinubu must “know that Ayu worked for him so he could integrate him into the next administration.”

Speaking while commissioning the re-modelled Community Secondary School, Okoro nu Odo, in Rivers State, the outgoing Ebonyi State governor stated: “I want to also thank the suspended PDP Chairman. He did very well, because if he had accepted to resign, it would have been very difficult for APC.

“So, he is our man, and I commend him very, very well. And I am begging Wike that they should lift the suspension, so that he can suspend many more of their leaders. We love what he has done, and so we commend him. I think Asiwaju must know that he worked for him and must also integrate him into the next administration.”

Another APC chieftain, Osita Okechukwu, was the first person to accuse Ayu of double-dealing when he (Ayu) refused to honour his pledge to quit office after Alhaji Atiku Abubakar emerged as PDP presidential candidate.

Governor Nyeom Wike and the G5 were peeved that the embattled former national chairman renounced his willing offer to quit as national chairman if a northerner emerged as PDP presidential standard-bearer. That led the party into strife, thereby alienating the G5 and Integrity Group from the Atiku Presidential Campaign Council.

In an interaction with journalists in Abuja, last September, precisely 24 days to the kick-off of presidential campaigns, Okechukwu remarked that PDP was already “hobbled by Ayu’s odd consensus,” and therefore was not likely to do well in the presidential poll.

While contending that the major opposition party, PDP, had boxed itself into irretrievable tight corner, Okechukwu, who is also Director General of Voice of Nigeria, regretted that instead of sitting down to address the various challenges confronting their party, the PDP leaders were busy passing the buck and blaming the ruling APC.

Okechukwu had lambasted the PDP national chairman, Dr. Iyorchiya Ayu for accusing APC of sponsoring mischievous posts against him and also dismissed the insinuation that APC was fuelling the crisis in PDP.

Urging Ayu to avoid buck-passing and blame game, Okechukwu accused the national chairman stressing that doing so amounts to transfer of misplaced aggression.

The APC chieftain had stated: “Dr Ayu, being a social scientist is experienced enough to know that once covenant of national integration is breached, it unleashes antithesis of unimaginable proportion naturally on the culprits.”

It remains to be seen how the biggest opposition will manage its affairs to stay focused on their election petitions.

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