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NEC meeting: Decision day in PDP over Ayu, Atiku, Wike feud

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh (Abuja), Ann Godwin, Obinna Nwaoku (Port Harcourt) and Monday Osayande (Asaba)
08 September 2022   |   4:34 am
All eyes are trained on today’s crucial National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where the party’s crises would either be laid to rest or the cracks further...

PDP Members; Atiku (Middle), Wike (Right)

• Southern NWC members insist on Ayu’s resignation, stage walkout • BoT chairman may resign to placate Wike’s camp
• Wike, Fayose, Anyim, Udom, others absent as Atiku meets ex-presidential aspirants • Atiku, Wike faceoff to end soon, PDP guber
candidates assure • Why party must respect governors called ‘children’ – Wike • Ignore Wike at your peril, party chief warns

All eyes are trained on today’s crucial National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where the party’s crises would either be laid to rest or the cracks further widened to weaken it ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Matters in the party got heated yesterday, when some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) protested against the continued leadership of Iyorchia Ayu as national chairman.

The regular meeting of the NWC was held in preparation for today’s expanded NEC meeting. A source at the meeting revealed that some members, particularly, from the Southern part of the country, protested against the manner Ayu is leading the party, especially during the present crisis.

Discussion on the way out of the party’s crisis, however, suffered setback following the abrupt end of the meeting after the aggrieved members staged a walkout.

Ayu, on hearing the introductory remarks against his style of leadership, was said to have quickly excused himself from the meeting. Following his movement out of the meeting, other NWC members, particularly from the South, immediately staged a walkout, led by the party’s deputy national chairman (South), Taofeek Arapaja.

It was also gathered that NWC members had blamed Ayu for escalating the party crisis with his provocative actions and comments.
Thereafter, a group of 15 NWC members met in the residence of a prominent member last night in Abuja and resolved to pass a no confidence vote on Ayu.

But the national publicity secretary of PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said yesterday that issues around Ayu’s removal never occurred at the meeting. He said throughout the time he was at the meeting, no motion was moved or passed on the national chairman.

According to Ologunagba, issues discussed at yesterday’s NWC meeting included reconciliation, organogram of the party’s campaign council and the party’s situation in Osun State.

The PDP has been embroiled in crisis over the ‘Ayu must go’ call championed by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State. The call had been based on allegation of dominance of the North in top positions of the party with the presidential candidate, national chairman, chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum all coming from the North.

Sources have informed The Guardian that the BoT chairman, Walid Jibrin, may resign from his position, to douse tension in the party. Jibrin has held the position for six years after taking over from Haliru Bello, who was removed in 2016.

Sources close to the BoT chairman said yesterday that Jibrin has already briefed senior members of the party on his decision to quit. “He said it is in the best interest of the party since there are complaints of regional lopsidedness,” one of the sources said.

Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the party, is from Adamawa (Northeast), Jibrin hails from Nasarawa (North-central), and Ayu is from Benue (North-central).

While some stakeholders welcomed Jibrin’s decision to stepdown, they also insisted that Ayu should resign from his position too “in the interest of equity.”

They also said Atiku must commit to stay in office for one term if elected president, because power has been in the north for eight years.

A party officer, who attended the NWC meeting, said many members have lost confidence in Ayu. He said many are unhappy that Ayu called aggrieved members of the party children in the midst of peace efforts.

WHILE the cloud of opposition to Ayu remained thick ahead of today’s decisive NEC meeting, Wike was absent as Atiku met the 2023 presidential aspirants of the party at his Asokoro residence in Abuja.  

Present at the meeting were publisher of Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu; former managing director of the now-defunct FSB International Bank, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen; the only female aspirant, Tariela Oliver and Charles Ugwu.

The PDP’s standard bearer appreciated them for accepting with good fate the outcome of the convention that produced him as the party’s candidate.

Also absent at the meeting were Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel, former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose; former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Bala Mohammed, Bauchi State governor.

Atiku at the meeting promised to work with all of them ahead of the general elections, adding that they have various roles to play in his victory at the polls.

No reason was given for the absence of the key aspirants from the meeting, which was the first to be convened since the conclusion of the primary. 

Atiku had earlier met with a delegation of PDP leaders from Niger State, led by former Minister of Information, Prof Jerry Gana.

In his remarks, Gana said they were in Atiku’s house to congratulate him and to assure him of their support as well as commitment toward ensuring that he wins Niger State.

Gana also disclosed that much success is being achieved with the ongoing reconciliation between Atiku and Wike.

MEANWHILE, Kaduna State PDP governorship candidate, Isa Mohammed Ashiru, has said the issues between Atiku and Wike have been resolved and they were now ready to meet with the party’s NWC to take a decision.

Ashiru spoke after Tuesday night’s meeting he and 16 other PDP governorship candidates had with Wike in Port Harcourt, days after first meeting with Atiku.

Ashiru, speaking of behalf of the team of PDP guber candidates, said: “It was fruitful and an open discussion with sincerity. We are home and dry. We discussed issues that border on the situation within the party.”

Ashiru, who declined giving details of the meeting, said: “But we are through. We have discussed with the presidential candidate. We are here with our brother and friend (Wike). Issues that border on what has happened have been sorted out.

“The issues have been resolved as far as I’m concerned because we have heard from both sides. We are going to meet with the National Working Committee to take a decision,” he added.

In another development, Wike has stated that the time of reckoning is coming for those who continue to insist that they can take everything to themselves in the PDP.

The governor maintained that nobody can silence him from speaking against such injustice and the demand for the right thing to be done.

Wike stated this at the inauguration of Emohua campus of Rivers State University and flag-off of staff quarters, performed by Seyi Makinde, governor of Oyo State, yesterday.

Performing the inauguration of the campus, Makinde noted that such multi-campus of a university promote quality education, expand the scope of learning and open up access to tertiary education.

Makinde also noted the endeavour by Wike as evidence of his vision and commitment to the state. “If children are doing all of these, I think what Nigeria needs are children. So, my brother (Wike) you can be rest assured that Nigeria appreciates you.

“Even the fight that we lost. We did not lose with our heads bowed. We stood for the truth and for what is good for the country. We will continue to fight for our space within PDP. We will fight for what is good for our people.”

Speaking further, Wike said the party must respect him and other governors in his camp, as the governors are the ones campaigning for the party with the projects they have executed in their various states and so deserve to be respected.

According to Wike, “the only states you can see commissioning or flagging off of projects are those states according to them that the children are in charge.

“If a PDP state is not doing well, don’t think you will be voted for because APC is not doing well. That’s why the party should respect us and know that we are the ones campaigning for the party because we have what we can use to campaign.

“It’s not to abuse people on the pages of a newspaper or go on television and bring people who have some mental problems to defend something they cannot defend.”

ATIKU has made plans with party leaders to manage Wike as a means to resolving its internal crisis and win next year’s election, his newly appointed spokesman, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, has said.

Aniagwu, who spoke at a press conference yesterday in Asaba, Delta State, revealed that the party is working hard to manage aggrieved members not to distract the party as campaigns kick off later this month.

Atiku’s spokesman, who is also Delta Commissioner of Information, said his principal is not going to be entangled in campaign of calumny with detractors, but he (Atiku) is currently working on bills to address corruption and other critical national issues when elected as president.

He said Atiku is not aspiring just because he wants to occupy the position of the president but because he has seen that our people are going through troubled times as a man who has been able to understand that there is a need to give back to a country that has given him so much.

While expressing worry over mass migration of professionals in Nigeria in search of greener pastures abroad, he noted that Atiku’s business is to restore hope so that the professionals will want to return because things will work again.

A Port Harcourt-based lawyer and chieftain of the PDP in Rivers, Princewill Dike, has warned the party and its presidential candidate against disregarding the demands of the Rivers governor and his allies, warning that an embarrassing defeat stares them in the face if they choose to downplay the demands.

Dike, who blamed Atiku and the national party for mismanaging an internal dispute mechanism, said it would have been nipped in the bud before it degenerates.

While he described the governor as a great mobiliser, he noted that Wike remained the backbone of the PDP, noting that any attempt to call his bluff would spell doom to the party’s moves to reclaim the centre.