•Alleges APC involvement
•Says Wike won’t dump party
By Kunle Oderemi And Taiwo Amodu
THERE were indications on Sunday that governors elected on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have been asked to prevail on the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Iyorchia Ayu to consider resigning from office as a compromise over the raging feud in the party on power sharing.
The plan was said to be part of the efforts made at the weekend by some key stakeholders in the party to unite and strengthen the main opposition party ahead of the presidential poll.
But a spokesman of the Atiku campaign team, Senator Dino Melaye, said Ayu would not quit, asserting that the governors were instrumental in Ayu becoming national chairman.
A source however, said the move to drag the governors to prevail on Ayu to quit was a follow-up to the meeting held by the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his allies, including Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State; Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Dr Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State in the bid to reconcile the two camps that had been at loggerheads after the choice of a running mate by Atiku.
According to sources, the face-off between the two camps is one of the factors delaying the constitution of PDP Presidential Campaign Council for the 2023 general election.
“It has been technically agreed that Ayu should step aside. But whether he will agree to resign or not depends on him,” another source said.
Virtually all the 13 PDP governors are split over the simmering crisis that has engulfed the party, with a few of them openly backing Wike over his agitation.
The source claimed that history was about to repeat itself as he claimed that the Third Republic senator ignored all entries that he should resign as the president of the Senate, following a plot to impeach him during the agitation for the de-annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by the late Chief MKO Abiola.
He was eventually impeached by the Senate during the military-induced political crisis.
The source added that the current faceoff is also about unfair power equation along the North/South structure in the PDP and need to allow the spirit of inclusiveness as contained in PDP Constitution to prevail.
But a source said the possibility of the deputy national chairman (South), Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja stepping in as PDP acting national chairman might not be automatic if Ayu bows to the current pressure on him.
This, the source said, was because the position could go to any of the three zones in the South for strategic reasons in the ongoing build-up to the general election.
“The acting chairman could come from the any of the geopolitical zones in the South if Ayu resigns since PDP wants to win convincingly in the general election. This is an unusual time for the party,” the source added.
Meanwhile, an elder of the party told the Nigerian Tribune that members of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of PDP plan to meet again within the next one week, as part of the ongoing efforts to end the protracted power struggle between the two blocs.
A member of the BoT, who craved to remain anonymous, said the meeting could come up earlier depending on further developments on the raging crisis.
The chairman of the BoT, Senator Jibril Wakil first broke news about moves to reconcile Atiku and Wike due to the fury expressed by the Rivers governor over the outcome of the PDP presidential primary, in which he came second.
The gulf widened when Atiku picked Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State by Atiku as running mate, but the reconciliation plan announced by Senator Wakil could materialise due to lack of compromise by the two camps.
The party initiated a fresh reconciliation move under the leadership of Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State, but the initiative met a brick wall, as the two camps were divided on
Though Fintri led other members of the Atiku camp to Port Harcourt for a meeting with Wike, the crisis became exacerbated due to altercations between leading members of the camps.
The brickbat led to Atiku cautioning his supporters and other stakeholders in PDP to give peace a chance and do not allow detractors to infiltrate their ranks.
Barely 24 hours after his advice, Atiku and Wike met in London last Friday with a few of their close allies in attendance on the way out of the seeming logjam.
However, amid speculation that Atiku has reached a deal with Wike, on the removal of the embattled national chairman, one of the spokespersons of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation, Senator Melaye, has urged party faithful to perish the thought.
Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune at the weekend, Senator Melaye maintained that the PDP national chairman would not be sacrificed on the eve of a general election.
The spokesperson of the Atiku campaign team accused the governors of acting in bad faith as he noted that the party national chairman was a creation of the PDP governors.
He said: “I want to start by saying that the PDP Governors were the ones who introduced and picked Iyorchia Ayu.
“You cannot give birth to a child in the morning and come back in the afternoon and disown the child, you are not going to be a good parents. We didn’t choose Ayu; the governors did and that is why Ayu was the consensus candidate. Did they field anybody against Ayu from the South during the convention? All of them including Governor Wike endorsed Ayu on convention day.
“Not alone did they endorse Ayu, they funded that convention! “So, how can you in December give us a product, in June, July, you want the product to leave?
“When they brought Ayu as a consensus candidate, that was the only office that was not contested on the day of convention, that was the only office that had the consensus of all the Governors whether South or North.
“Did they forget at the time they were fielding Ayu that Ayu was a Northerner? Or did they just suddenly realize that Ayu is a Northerner?
“More importantly, you can’t be talking of Ayu leaving when we have not won the presidential election. Is it the cart before the horse or the horse before the cart? “
Melaye described as unfounded, a claim that there was an agreement before the election of the party National Working Committee (NWC), that Ayu would resign from his exalted seat as national chairman,if a Northerner picked the presidential ticket of the main opposition party.
“No, there was no such agreement. So, if that kind of arrangement happened and we did not win the election, God forbids this time around, you remove your chairman and you did not win the election, does that make any sense? So, it is after we have a president elect that you can now start saying the President and the party chairman cannot come from the same region of the country. That makes more sense.
“You are going to throw us into constitutional crisis because Ayu was not appointed, he was elected at a convention, anything you do to Ayu now will create a constitutional crisis for PDP and these are all coming from the ruling party trying to create confusion and legal tussles that will have negative effects on our election and we will not allow it “
Melaye further dismissed a claim that the Rivers governor would eventually dump the party for the ruling APC, noting that having given his words at the venue of the presidential convention, on no account would Wike defect to the APC.
“I say it with every blood in my vein that Wike is a PDP man; he is not going to leave PDP and he is going to work with Atiku Abubakar because I know that Wike is a man of honour. He is a man of his words and I was live and present at the convention, where Wike held the microphone and said he is a PDP man 100 percent and that whoever emerges (here today) as the presidential candidate, that he is going to support the person. I know Wike is 59 going to 60 years old and he is a mature man; he is not going to eat his words,” Melaye said.