• Party in dilemma about successor if Ayu resigns, says NWC not divided

The People’s Democratic Party National Working Committee is currently divided over Rivers state governor Nyesom Wike’s demand that the party’s national chairman Iyorchia Ayu must resign before agreeing to reconcile with the PDP presidential candidate. Atiku Abubakar.

Top party members confided in The PUNCH on Sunday that NWC members were sharply divided between those who endorsed calls for Ayu’s removal and those who opposed the idea.

Wike and Atiku fell apart after the former vice president emerged as the PDP presidential candidate and Delta state governor Ifeanyi chose Okowa as his running mate over Wike, who was recommended by a panel set up by the party.

Although the PDP set up a panel to reconcile the two men, Wike’s insistence on removing the party chairman as a condition of peace continued to spark tensions in the main opposition party.

Wike had accused Ayu of being impartial, noting that he had previously pledged to resign if a northerner emerged as the party presidential candidate.

In an effort to pacify Rivers’ governor, Atiku, during his meeting with him and four other governors in London, UK, last Thursday, is said to have asked Wike to give him two weeks to think about the urging from the governor on Ayu.

Atiku met with Wike a few hours after the governor met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Labor Party presidential candidate Peter Obi.

A member of the party’s NWC, speaking on condition of anonymity, told one of our correspondents that asking Ayu to resign would not solve the crisis.

According to him, the deputy national chairman, Umar Damagum, who takes over, will also represent the north if Ayu resigns.

He said: “The issue is both political and constitutional. Asking Ayu to go may not solve the political problem, as the deputy national chairman of the party for the North still takes over the leadership of the party in the absence of the chairman.

“To resolve the constitutional and political crises, the party’s NEC (National Executive Committee) can dissolve the NWC and turn it into an interim committee. When that happens, they simply appoint someone from the region where they want the national interim chairman to succeed Ayu.

“But so far, no meeting has been scheduled for this week. But tomorrow (today) we will know if there will be a meeting and the agenda will also be mentioned.”

Read also:  Develop stronger music brand for Nigeria, Runsewe charges PMAN

Under the PDP’s constitution, a national president who resigns is succeeded by a deputy national president from the same region, as the case may be, North or South.

But an NWC source close to Ayu said the national chairman would not resign.

Although the source rejected the demand for his resignation, the source said that instead of asking for his departure, they should demand the resignation of the PDP presidential candidate.

He said, ‘Ayu is not resigning. Ayu is from North Central. If Ayu resigns now, the person who will take over from him will be Umar Damagum, Deputy National Chairman (North) from the Northeast. If people don’t want North-Central or North-East, why do they accept (someone from) North-East and North-East?

The man who will take over from Ayu is from the northeast, the same zone as Atiku Abubakar. Does it make sense? So how does he help the North-North argument?

“Ayu has been elected for four years and he hasn’t done a year yet. So why should the thought of resigning even arise? What has Ayu done to make him resign? He is not a candidate in the party, he didn’t beat (Nyesom) Wike in the election, Atiku did.

‘Ayu will not resign’

The source further stated: “Ayu did not choose Atiku’s running mate; Atiku chose for herself. So they should ask Atiku to resign because he was the one who did two bad things. First, Atiku defeated Wike; second, he bypassed him in choosing a running mate. I don’t see where Ayu has ended up in this.

“They should tell Atiku to step down, not Ayu who came up with a national order to save the country from the grip of the locusts.”

Evidence suggests that the crisis plaguing the PDP might have taken a worse turn as NWC members could not agree on the way out of the challenge.

Ortom, others

The PUNCH came to the conclusion that the NWC was deeply divided over regional and personal allegiances, with some mandating the PDP presidential candidate and governors Wike, Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Samuel Ortom of Benue State, and others.

Sources revealed that divided loyalties in the party had prevented the NWC from taking a common stance on how to handle Wike’s feud with Atiku.

Read also:  Indigenous Ogwashi-Uku Demand Democracy From Participants

A source stated: “The National Working Committee is filled with the loyalists of the governors. This is because they (governors) funded the election of some of the NWC members and that is why the NWC members have not been able to take a common position on the crisis. Each member actually fights for the interest of its sponsor.

“It is well known within the party that Ayu supports Atiku because the presidential candidate played an important role in his election as party chairman. When Ayu had issues with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the more than N400 million weapons fund he received from the former Goodluck Jonathan government for the 2015 election campaign, it was Atiku who saved him.”

Our correspondent also learned that the Deputy National Chairman, North, was also on Atiku’s side.

Another party source stated: ”On the other hand, we have the National Secretary, Samuel Anyanwu, who got his position thanks to Wike’s goodwill; ditto for the financial secretary, Daniel Woyegikuro. You also have the Deputy National Chairman, South, Taofeek Arapaja, who has never hidden his loyalty to Governors Makinde and Wike.

“So there is a serious division in the NWC between Wike’s men and those of Atiku and other governors. Some governors are for Atiku and some are not. They have a sharply divided NWC that works for multiple purposes. About five governors have fallen out of favor with Atiku and they also have their loyalists in the NWC.

“As it is now, it is a deeply divided house and the PDP is going into battle (election) with a divided house, which would affect Atiku’s chances. That’s why he went to meet Wike (in London).”

The PUNCH further learned that the push for Ayu’s removal may not continue due to divisions within the NWC.

“Some PDP leaders believe that the party chairman should make a sacrifice and leave, but those who oppose it said that if Ayu leaves, Atiku may want to push for Damagum to take over and this may not be acceptable to Wike , in which case the PDP will be more divided. The party does not have enough time to solve a problem that could arise from the division,” said a steadfast party.

Read also:  Lady offers her kidney to save Ekweremadu's daughter

When asked about the divisions in the NWC over members’ loyalty to Atiku, Wike, and other governors, and whether the crisis in the party would affect the odds in the 2023 poll, the national chairman of the NWC declined. PDP to comment.

He said, ‘No, I’m not talking to the press for the time being. The PUNCH does a good job, very professional. When I’m ready to talk to the media, I’ll let you know very soon.”

But the deputy national chairman, Arapaja, said he never hid his loyalty to the Rivers governor.

‘Loyalty to Wike’

He said, ‘What’s wrong with being loyal to Wike? I am loyal to both Makinde and Wike. That’s obvious, everyone knows that. There is nothing wrong with being loyal. I am loyal to them, but I will do everything to defend the party. But no one can doubt my loyalty to Wike and Makinde.”

When asked about his alleged loyalty to Wike, the PDP’s national secretary said, “You can’t ask me about my loyalty to Governor Wike; I am the national secretary of the PDP. If you have any questions, talk to the party spokesperson.”

But the PDP spokesman, Debo Ologunagba, denied that the NWC members were loyal to some governors, noting that their allegiance was only to the party.

He noted: “Loyalty to a candidate in a party is normal, but equating loyalty to a party is not correct. We have our loyalty to our leaders in the party and we recognize their contributions to the party. The NWC is here a.

“The governors played an important role in the creation of the NWC. Of course we respect and honor them. But you cannot equate loyalty to the governors who have contributed enormously to the party with loyalty to the party. The party is supreme for every member of the party. The NWC is one with all loyalty to the governors and leaders of the party.”

On when the National Executive Committee would meet, Ologunagba said no date had been set, adding that the NWC meets regularly.

He revealed that on Monday the party would include a former governor of Kano state, Ibrahim Shekarau, in the PDP.

Atiku Campaign Organization spokesman Daniel Bwala said NWC members were loyal to the party, not individuals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.