Afresh crisis may be brewing in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as some leaders of the opposition party are allegedly pushing for the immediate expulsion of any of its chieftains that accepts to serve in the yet to be unfolded cabinet of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Assistant Editor, ‘Dare Odufowokan, reports.
HERE are indications that interest groups within the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are once again set to engage each other in another round of face off over alleged plans by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to name some chieftains of the troubled party in his ministerial list as well as consider others for some other roles in his administration.
A competent source within the party told The Nation that opposing forces within the party are preparing to slug it out over the plot to push for the expulsion of PDP chieftains that agree to serve in the Tinubu administration. It was also gathered that supporters of Atiku Abubakar, the party’s 2023 presidential candidate and those backing former Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state, are set to engage each other in an open war for the control of the party.
The crisis in the PDP has its root in the outcome of the party’s presidential primary election, where Wike, lost to the former vice-president, Atiku and Atiku’s decision to pick the then Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate against the recommendation of a committee chaired by Samuel Ortom, which reportedly recommended Wike as the PDP vice presidential candidate. Wike failed to support Atiku during the general elections and, instead, worked for Tinubu, who won the election.
The crisis consumed the National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, as a Benue High Court ordered him to stop parading himself as national chairman of the PDP pending determination of the suit before it. The National Working Committee, (NWC) of the PDP, acting on the order, confirmed its Deputy National Chairman (North), Amb. Umar Illiya Damagum, as acting national chairman after Ayu, stepped aside in deference to the court order.
Atiku’s spokesman added that their decision not to support Atiku had nothing to do with patriotism, and Nigerians should not be deceived. His statement came amidst claims that the pro-Atiku camp in the PDP is still bent on ensuring the exit of Wike and his supporters from the party at all cost. “Tinubu’s ministerial list is one thing they are waiting for to further nail Wike and other PDP chieftains on his side,” a source said on Thursday.
Another party source told our correspondent that Damagum is under pressure to constitute a committee that will investigate allegations of anti-party activities against Wike and some other PDP leader. “The plan is to get the investigation panel to indict the affected people at all cost so as to pave the way for their expulsion from the party. But the acting National Chairman has been slow in setting up the committee,” our source noted.
Signs of trouble
Reacting to Fayose’s interview, Shaibu said appointing Wike as a minister would be counter-productive. He added that the former Ekiti governor said it as it is when he described Wike as “an average mad man.” “We want to appreciate Fayose for describing Wike as an ‘average mad man.’ Indeed, it is only a mad person who can use violence to prevent people from coming into a state to campaign. It takes madness to subvert the will of the people.”
He added that it is unfortunate that Fayose and other members of the G5 were not bold enough to openly campaign for Tinubu but rather chose to deceive members of their party while working against Atiku behind the scene during the run-up to the presidential election instead of coming out now. According to Shaibu, Wike and others are running from pillar to post in order to get Tinubu to ensure that they are not prosecuted by anti-graft agencies.
“On September 20, 2022, Fayose, while addressing supporters in Ado Ekiti publicly stated that he would be supporting Waziri Atiku Abubakar despite Wike’s protests. A simple Google search will confirm this. Then after Tinubu’s dubious victory, Fayose quickly changed gears, stating that he was the one who delivered Ekiti State to the APC. This is his stock in trade. He is a lily-livered rabble-rouser who loves to be in the spotlight and pretends to be more popular than he really is.
“This is the deception of the man. Aware of the fact that he cannot get a ministerial appointment because of people like Kayode Fayemi, Dele Alake and Dayo Adeyeye who are jostling for the Ekiti slot, Fayose is now running from pillar to post, trying to get an appointment for his son while also trying to get the government to withdraw his corruption case from court..
With the weight of evidence presented by the EFCC and its star witness, Senator Musilu Obanikoro, Fayose is now desperately trying to get the case compromised or withdrawn. Nigerians should not be deceived by his antics. The G-5 governors were only seeking relevance, appointments, and protection from prosecution. Their decision not to support Atiku had nothing to do with patriotism, and Nigerians should not be deceived.
“Ortom was one of the worst governors in the history of Nigeria. His case file at the EFCC is bulky, and he was recently invited but released because of Wike’s intervention. Okezie Ikpeazu, the former governor of Abia State, also performed abysmally in office. His successor has been complaining almost on a daily basis. But the EFCC will not prosecute him because of the G-5 connection. This is what they have turned the country into,” he said.
Fayose, has urged President Tinubu to appoint a former governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike into his cabinet saying “Wike is an asset to Nigeria, Asiwaju [Tinubu] needs a man like Wike.” Fayose insisted that nothing is wrong with the former Rivers governor making the President’s ministerial list, adding that Wike is a courageous man who is not afraid to speak the truth.
The former Ekiti governor, who confessed during the interview that he actually worked against the candidature of Atiku in the 2023 presidential election, recalled that he was one of the first PDP members to call for a southern president. “I never worked for PDP during the last election. I cannot work for two people at the same time. The reality is that I worked for Asiwaju (Tinubu). He is a respectable person from the South-West. It is the time of the South.”
Fayose however said he will not accept a ministerial position in the current administration even if he is offered. According to the PDP chieftain, it is time for the old to give the younger generation space in government. He advised that Tinubu’s cabinet should be 40 per cent for the old, 30 per cent for women, and 30 per cent for youths.
The situation within the troubled opposition party further degenerated when former Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, in his reaction to Shaibu’s allegations, alleged that Atiku is angry because he was rejected by the G5- governors during the last presidential election. He added that Atiku should worry more about why he was rejected by the G-5 and other members of the party.
Ortom stated that the G-5 stood for justice, equity, and fairness and that the 2023 presidency must go to the southern part of the country. “Atiku is angry because Governor Ortom and his colleagues in the G-5 refused to be used by him as ‘Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs)’ to circumvent and thwart the resolve of Nigerians to produce a President from the southern region.
“Another reason for Atiku’s attack on Chief Ortom is the former Benue State Governor’s boldness to speak truth to his face and rebuke him for making unstatesmanlike comments regarding the killing of Benue people by Fulani herdsmen. Atiku is on record to have expressed bitterness towards Ortom for daring to enact a law to prohibit open grazing of livestock in the state.
“The former Vice President’s diatribe against Chief Ortom can therefore be understood as the manifestation of frustration for losing the 2023 election. His failure to humble himself and unite the PDP, opting to remain haughty even when the signals were clear that he was heading for defeat summarized his performance in the last election.
“Atiku lacks the moral ground to accuse anyone else of corruption. The words of his erstwhile principal, the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who described him as a very corrupt man have remained indelible and incontrovertible. Chief Obasanjo, in his book, ‘My Watch’ states on pages 191-192 thus:
“Atiku Abubakar’s name was among the names sent to us. Up to that time, EFCC had enjoyed close cooperation and collaboration with law enforcement agencies in the UK and the USA. I gave the green light to Nuhu for the investigation as requested by the authorities and forwarded his report to the USA. The report was uncomfortable and unsavoury about Atiku and his associates.
“I thought it was bad enough that the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was under investigation for corruption when my Administration had made fighting corruption one of its cardinal objectives. As it turned out, the investigation in Nigeria and in the US led to Atiku’s house being searched by the US Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It was so embarrassing for our Administration and Embassy in Washington…”
Ortom further admitted that he honoured the invitation of the anti-graft agency saying, “The role of anti-graft agencies was to investigate allegations of corruption. Whenever they invite someone, such a person has to honour the invitation. As a man who believes in the rule of law, Chief Ortom willingly visited EFCC when the Commission sought clarifications on the actions of his administration,” Ortom said.
The statement by Atiku’s aide had sensationally described Ortom as the worst governor in Nigeria’s history. “Ortom was one of the worst governors in the history of Nigeria. His case file at the EFCC is bulky, and he was recently invited but released because of Wike’s intervention,” he said, drawing the anger of the former Benue state governor.