Ayu/Atiku parley: PDP crisis worsens as Wike’s camp pulls out of Atiku’s campaign council

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…Ayu must quit for  PDP to restructure Nigeria — Jang, Gana

…I can’t force Ayu to resign – Atiku insists

…No guarantee Atiku will unite Nigeria – Bode George

Barth Ndubuwah, Bankole Taiwo, Bisi Adewunmi, Ridwan Adekunle

Crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has worsened as the decision of Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, his allies and other bulwarks of the party to distance themselves from the campaign committee of the  presidential candidate of the party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has attracted controversies and expression of grievances.

In reaction to the development, Atiku has replied to the volume of calls from aggrieved members of his party calling for resignation of the national chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, saying he cannot force the later to resign his position.

The former vice-president said this in reaction to allies of Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, who alongside other party bulwarks from the South said they would not participate in the campaign of Abubakar until Ayu leaves office.

Reacting in a statement on Wednesday, Atiku said he was surprised with the withdrawal of Wike and his associates from the party’s campaign council.

“Early this morning, my attention was drawn to a news clip in which several senior and influential members of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), addressed the press and, amongst other things, declared that they are withdrawing, forthwith, from the Presidential Campaign Council set up by our party to judiciously plan and prosecute the general elections set to hold in February and March 2023, on the one hand; and reiterated their earlier calls for the resignation or removal from office of the national chairman of our party, Senator Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, on the other hand,” he said.

“The people that addressed the press must have their reasons for withdrawing from the Presidential Campaign Council, and I will not speculate as to what those reasons may be.

“Personally, I am quite surprised with this withdrawal because, as I have been informed by officials of our party, apart from the Rivers State chapter of the PDP, all the remaining States of the Federation submitted names of people who they wanted included in the Presidential Campaign Council.

“On the calls for the resignation or removal from office of our national chairman, however, I must reiterate what I have said severally in public and in private; the decision for Dr. Iyorchia Ayu to resign from office is personal to Dr. Ayu and, neither I nor anyone else can make that decision for him.

“As to the calls for the removal of Dr. Ayu from office, however, I will state that, as a committed democrat and firm believer in the rule of law and democratic tenets, and our party being one set up, organized and regulated by law and our constitution, it is my absolute belief that everything that we do in our party must be done in accordance with, and conformity to, the law and our constitution.

“Now, our nation is currently in the throes of a multidimensional crisis encompassing insecurity, economic meltdown, disunity and mutual mistrust and educational dislocations, to mention a few.

“I have a plan to address these issues and I have, graciously, been given the ticket to lead our great party in next year’s presidential elections, with the singular mandate to come and lead the efforts to cure these ills.

“Every single person who loves this country, as I do, is needed for the arduous tasks that face us ahead as a nation, and this includes every member of the PDP.”

Abubakar asked Wike and his allies to retrace their steps and be part of the campaign council.

No guarantee Atiku will unite Nigeria – Bode George

Meanwhile, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Bode George, has said that if members of the party cannot unify it at the moment, there is no guarantee that the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, can unify Nigeria when he becomes president.

George made the statement while commenting on the crisis rocking the party during an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today.

On Wednesday, some members of Wike’s team vowed not to join Atiku campaign council until the party’s National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, resigns. But Atiku said he would not prevail on Ayu to step aside.

Speaking on the TV programme, George said, “Our candidate has this onus; he said that he is a unifier. If we cannot unify our party at this small level, what is the guarantee that when he gets there he will be ready to unify this country. Otherwise you will be talking of constitution.”

He stated that he was not consulted for nomination of members from Lagos State into the campaign council.

He added, “Was I consulted for nomination from Lagos State? All the other people were they consulted? If you want to do it on your own, good luck to you. Those are the things that we notice and we now decided that if they don’t want  us to participate in the national campaign, then we must go back to the public and let them know.”

George who insisted that Senator Iyorchia Ayu resigns as the party’s national chairman, stated that while nobody was pressuring Ayu to vacate the office, it was a pledge the national chairman freely made in the build-up to the party’s presidential primary election.

“Let me try and educate the public on this issue; we are not talking about removing him (Ayu) or forcing him (to resign), he himself – Iyorcha Ayu – stated pointedly that peradventure if the presidential candidate emerges from the North [I didn’t say it, he said it publicly] that he would resign,” said George.

He explained that it would only be morally right for the national chairman to resign from his position after former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the northern extraction emerged as the PDP presidential candidate.

George, who is also a member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), explained that Ayu’s resignation was necessary to ensure the inclusivity, sensitivity, and balancing that the party’s founding fathers envisaged when the PDP was created.

President Muhammadu Buhari, according to him, is from the North and in his eighth year and it will not be proper for another northerner to succeed him, irrespective of his/her political affiliation.

“The issue we are talking about is a purely moral issue …if we use the same moral compass to allow him (Atiku) to contest at that time (because he is from the North and chairmanship had been zoned there), it means the presidential candidate must come from the opposite zone, which is the South.

“Now that you (Atiku) took up the ticket, Ayu himself stated completely that once the presidential candidate emerges from the North, he himself would be too happy to resign. So, why are we playing games?” the PDP chieftain queried.

Wike, his Oyo State counterpart, Seyi Makinde and other stakeholders have resolved not to participate in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential campaign until, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, resigns as the National Chairman of the party.

They emphasised that the publication of the Presidential Campaign Council list without the resolution of the Senator Ayu lingering debacle, translates to “putting the cart before the horse.”

Arising from a crucial meeting in the early hours of Wednesday in Port Harcourt, Governor Makinde said they hope that the powers that be within the PDP will listen to the voice of reasoning and do the needful.

The former PDP South-West National Vice Chairman, Chief Olabode George, who read  the communique after the meeting, said they are concerned about the division in the party  and bemoaned the failure of the leadership to utilise the internal conflict resolution mechanisms to ensure inclusiveness of all and guarantee victory for the PDP.

“The published Presidential Campaign Council list translates to putting the cart before the horse. The pertinent issue before the party remains the resolution of the Ayu leadership debacle, which is a departure from the spirit and letter of our constitution which undermines the unity of our great party.

“We therefore resolve that Senator Iyorchia Ayu resigns as the National Chairman of the party for an acting Chairman of Southern Nigeria extraction to emerge, and lead the party on the national campaign.

“Consequently, we resolve not to participate in the campaign council in whatever capacity until the resignation of Senator Iyorchia Ayu,” he said.

In the same vein, former Plateau State governor, Senator Jonah Jang, said the description of Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal as the PDP presidential primaries hero by Senator Ayu is antithetical to the principle of justice, fair play and equity on which the party was formed.

“It is true that everything is being done for us to have internal democracy in the party. But, for the National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu to go and embrace Tambuwal, calling him the hero of the convention, which means there was a private arrangement that was done with Tambuwal to short-change other contestants, including Governor Wike. Here was a referee who now help one of the sides to score a goal, and then blow the whistle that a goal had been scored.

“This is not what we formed the PDP to do for Nigerians and therefore, we unequivocally asked that Ayu has to step down. Having got the presidential candidate from the northern part of the country through his assistance, he should as well now step down so that a National Chairman can move to the south.This will enable  the party to be united for the campaign towards 2023,” he said.

He said Gov. Wike and others demand for Senator Ayu to resign is aimed at addressing the structural imbalance in the party’s hierarchy.

On his part, former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana said if PDP cannot restructure itself, it cannot restructure Nigeria.

He insisted that as committed PDP members, they are sincerely desirous that the PDP returns to power and provide Nigerians excellent governance.

“But that cannot be achieved unless we have a proper structure of the party as designed by the founding fathers. We are men and women who are committed to the issues of justice, fairness, equity.  You cannot build on a faulty foundation.

“Therefore, this call for the chairman to step down or resign is not because any of us is aggrieved, but because we believe it is important to ensure a fair structure, a just structure, a principle structure, a constitutional structure for the party.

“If we want to restructure Nigeria, we should have the courage to restructure our party. And that is why we have met and decided that this is extremely important and therefore we want Nigerians to know,” Prof Gana stressed.

He maintained that they will remain committed members of PDP, but will continue to insist that the right things be done.

“We remain PDP, but we want things done justly, fairly, equitably,” he said.

Former Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, who also spoke, declared that they will work for the party to the extent that fairness, equity and justice is ensured in the party.

Those who attended the meeting are Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike; Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde; former governors of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose; Dr. Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo); Donald Duke (Cross River); PDP South-South National Vice Chairman, Chief Dan Orbih; former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, SAN; Senator Olaka Nwogu; Senator Lado Danmarke; Senator Mao Ohuabunwa; Senator Sandy Onor; Sulaiman Mohammed Nazif.

Others include, Rt. Hon. Chibudom Nwuche; Hon. Ibrahim Shehu Gusau; Hon. Nnenna Elendu Ukeje; Hon. Mohammed Maifada; Hon. Bayo Lawal; Mohammed Jamu; Caleb Mutwang and David Emmanuel Ombugadu.

Meanwhile, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Debo Ologunagba, has said that the party will formally speak on the purported pulling out of Wike and his loyalists at the appropriate time.

…We wish these leaders will respect party’s interest — Ogun PDP

Reacting to the purported pulling out of Gov Wike and his loyalists from the presidential campaign of Atiku Abubakar, the Ogun State chapter of PDP said it had wished these party leaders respected the choice of the party as far as the continue stay of office of Sen Iyorcha Ayu as its National Chairman is concerned.

Speaking through its Publicity Secretary, Asiwaju Akinloye Bankole, the party said “as a party we shall continue to appeal to them, they should sheathe their sword and align with the stand of the party, they should rather queue behind the party’s interest which is far above any other interest. As it is now, we don’t need all of this, rather all hands should be on deck to support the party and work for its victory in 2023, so we shall keep appealing to them to abide by the choice of the party on this matter.”

A public analyst, Mr Kunle Taiwo while speaking with our Correspondent said that the pulling out of Gov. Wike’s loyalists among other stakeholders like Gov Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Chief Bode George among others is not too healthy for the desire of PDP to wrestle power from APC next year.

Mr Kunle Taiwo said, “This news of Gov Wike and other topshots of PDP pulling out of Atiku Abubakar presidential campaign ahead of 2023 elections portends grave danger for the party.

“This is because the last time I checked, politics is still a game of numbers and those saying they are out are not just ordinary members but leaders of the party at their respective state. This is another distraction that I feel should not be happening now, all efforts by now should be concentrated on how the party will defeat APC during next year election.

“If indeed, Dr Iyorcha Ayu has once said that he would resign his national leadership of the party if a northerner emerges as the presidential candidate of the party because he is also from that zone and then allow someone from the South to take over, because it will always be odd to have the presidential candidate and the national Chairman of the party from same zone, it is just appropriate for Ayu to fulfill his promise.

“I just hope they will find a way round this unnecessary bickering that has for long refused to leave the party. This is a party that should remain united and focused, it should strategically be working round the clock to wrestle power from the APC and not be the one working against itself.

“Let’s hope reason will prevail or else, PDP might suffer loss of huge votes in the south during the presidential election next year. Already, Fayemi and other leaders of the ruling party were recently in Rivers State to woo Gov Wike to their side.

“There was also a report that Gov. Wike met with the presidential candidate of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in London last month. There’s fire on the mountain and I hope PDP will work towards ensuring that its fold is never depleted for any reason.”