The ding-dong in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) continued, yesterday, as Governor Nyesom Wike maintained his hard stance despite a confidence vote in Senator Iyorchia Ayu by the National Executive Committee (NEC) at a meeting attended by only six of the party’s 13 governors.
Not even the decision by Walid Jibrin to step down as chairman of Board of Trustees (BoT) could pacify the Rivers governor, who insisted that it is either Ayu goes or no deal. He described Jibrin’s resignation as a charade and vowed to continue the fight for the right thing to be done in the PDP.
The party has been immersed in crisis since the election of Atiku Abubakar and Ifeanyi Okowa as presidential and vice presidential candidates respectively.
The Wike group has continued to insist on Ayu’s replacement to achieve a North/ South in the PDP while Ayu, who is backed by some Northern leaders, has said repeatedly that he would not quit.
Tension heightened in the party, on Wednesday, ahead of NEC meeting, which was expected to take a decision on Ayu’s fate, as 15 members of the NWC, majorly from the South had moved a vote of no confidence. However, at yesterday’s NEC meeting, Minority Leader, House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, moved a motion for a vote of confidence in the Ayu-led NWC. The motion was seconded by a NEC member from Kwara State, Balogun Ishola Fulani.
When the acting BoT chairman, Senator Adolphus Wabara, called for a counter motion, some of those present shouted “them no come.”
Speaking after the confidence vote was passed in the NWC, Atiku said the PDP would resolve its crisis and win the 2023 elections. “Family disagreements are normal. We are determined to resolve those internal disagreements. Disagreement should be removed within the party’s constitution and the rules guiding the party.”
Governor Wike has insisted that Ayu must step down as chairman, notwithstanding the resignation of Jibrin as BoT chairman. Jibrin had said he decided to quit because he wanted Atiku to win the 2023 general elections. He noted that if PDP wins the presidential poll, he would be given a bigger position.
“All we want to make sure is that Atiku becomes the president of Nigeria by all means. That is why I decided that me Senator Walid Jibrin, I am stepping down from the BoT. And I discussed this with the candidate and the candidate agrees with me. If the party wins I will be given a bigger position.”
Reacting to Jibrin’s resignation, Wike said: “Who is talking about that? Do you want me to accept that the candidate and the chairman should come from the same place? I asked them to tell me the truth and they said no. I don’t like people when you are talking they will say ‘interest of Nigerians’. Who defines the interest of Nigerians, you? You that refused to obey the constitution of their party, are you speaking in the interest of Nigerians? This fight we will fight it to the end,” he said.
According to Wike, the issue at hand is that of justice and fairness. He said having produced the presidential candidate of the party, the north should not also hold on to the chairmanship of the party.
“Some of you don’t know what is happening. You are being deceived; they are telling you Wike is causing problem. Wike is not causing problem; Wike is bringing peace to the country. Wike is advocating for justice, Wike is advocating for equity, and Wike is advocating for fairness.
“We have finished with presidential primary. It is over and it is over. So, when people say, ‘You want to destroy the party because you didn’t win the primary’, I think they are sick, they have some mental problem.”
He vowed to sustain the fight for a return to healthy party structure that would allow for an even representation of the interest of the north and south in the national leadership of the party.
He spoke at the inauguration of the Ahoada campus of the Rivers State University and flag-off of staff quarters performed by Governor Makinde, yesterday.
•Atiku told me Ayu must go
He noted that the current hierarchy of the PDP did not give room for the interest of the south, particularly when decisions are to be taken. According to him, the resignation of the BoT chairman is a distraction because the PDP’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, had told him that the national chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu must relinquish his position.
“Ayu said if the presidential candidate comes from the north, that he will resign after the convention of our party, and that the chairman of our party will come from the south. When the north central leaders met in the house Bala Mohammed, governor of Bauchi State, he said so there. When he met the caucus of the Senate, he told them that.
“Now, when we finished our convention on Sunday, the candidate of the party came to see me in my house in Abuja on Monday around 10:30 am. The candidate told me I want us to work together, and then he said, look Ayu must go. I said why? He said because when a candidate comes from the north, the chairman will come from the south.”
•Demand not due to presidential ticket loss
Governor Wike challenged the presidential candidate to deny the comment and be ready to hear many other things that had transpired between them relating to the current crisis.
“And I’m saying implement what you told me. What offence have I committed? It is nothing to do with Wike. It has to do with integrity. This is what he told me. I challenge the presidential candidate to deny this. If he denies it, I will go further to say so many things to Nigerians because enough is enough. We can’t continue this way.”
“One ex-general went to see the BoT chairman and the candidate too went to see him to resign that we’ll give you advisory position. The BoT position is already advisory. What advisory position are going to give him? That is to insult us. And all of us are here. Our people are there not knowing what is happening. You think it’s Wike. It is you. It is your children. How can we be here the chairman and presidential candidate will meet, they will take a decision, nobody represents us. Just wait, pray let them win then you will see.”
•Presidential figure backing Atiku, PDP
The governor accused some vested interest in the PDP of being arrogant because they are being backed by someone in the presidency. He, however, warned those haughty individuals to also bear in the mind that an APC presidential aspirant the person they are relying on backed, failed to clinch his party’s ticket.
“Why are they being so arrogant? I can tell you they are arrogant because they believe somebody in the presidency is backing them. But, what they don’t understand is the same person in the presidency backed somebody as APC presidential aspirant and the person failed. I will tell Nigerians at the appropriate time who the person is in the presidency that is backing them.”
•I’m not causing trouble
He stressed that he was not causing any problem in the country. Rather, he was advocating that the right must be done.
“Some of you don’t know what is happening in the country. You are being deceived they tell you Wike is causing problem. Wike is not causing problem. Wike is bringing peace to the country. Wike is advocating for justice. Wike is advocating for equity. Wike is advocating for fairness. Those of you who do not understand, how party functions, let me educate you.
“We have finished the presidential primary. It is over and it is over. Some people said you want to destroy the party because you didn’t win the primary. I think you are sick. They have some mental problem. We have done with the presidential primaries and it is over.
He taunted Aliyu Babangida for going to the media to say that somebody was destroying the party because he didn’t win the presidential primary.
“What an insult. This is the same man, who came out on television and said they, governors from the North, agreed to fail Jonathan in 2015 because they it was the turn of the North.
“The same man (Aliyu) said they agreed to make sure PDP failed the election because they felt it was their own turn to produce the president. That was what he said. That is the man saying I want to destroy the party because I didn’t win the primary.
“For Christ sake, in a contest, there must be a winner and a loser. I have no regret. We contested the election very well. And we’re not ashamed. If Aliyu was important, he should have come and pick form, let us deal with him.
“As a serving governor, he couldn’t win senatorial election. You could imagine me going to pick senatorial election and do not win the election. That means something is fundamentally wrong with me. That means I have never performed as a serving governor. That is a vote of no confidence. Governor bye-bye; you didn’t do well.
“And that is the man PDP is bringing to the television to campaign for PDP. Ask him, when he was a governor, what was his legacy project? How many people from this country came to commission project. Ask him.
“So, you should ask, if I have come here today to campaign for our party, people will ask, you that are campaigning, what have you done in your state as a governor? As Aliyu Babangida, show me your report card when you were governor of Niger State.
“I have been to Niger State, and I asked people, when this man was governor show me what he has done. Nothing. That is the man that would come to national television to tell Nigerians who to vote for. So, how can you recommend us who to vote, while when you were there, you could not perform?
“That is not the issue. Today, I told Nigerians before that at the appropriate time, I’m going to speak. But, now that things are coming out, let me revealing to you small small, so that you people will know the kind of country we are in and you ask yourself question, am I part of this country?
“We are talking about how you said, if the presidential candidate comes from the North, you will resign. And by the convention of our party, the national chairman of the will come from the South. When the North Central met, he said that in the house of Bala Mohammed, governor of Bauchi State. When he met the caucus of the Senate, he told them that.
The acting BoT chairman has cautioned against playing to the gallery.
“I want to advise us that we should always debrief ourselves in-house no matter what the anger is; let us debrief ourselves in-house rather than playing to the gallery. We should watch and control our utterances because by and large, only God knows tomorrow.
“Because once you voice out something, it is always difficult for you to pick back what you voice out. My advice to use is that we should be mature enough to control our temper.”
Among those who stayed away from the NEC meeting were Governor Wike as well as Governors Seyi Makinde, Oyo; Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu. The four governors, as well as the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, are driving Ayu must go agitation.
Ortom was represented, at the meeting, by his deputy, Benson Abuonu.
Apart from the pro-Wike governors, Delta State Governor and PDP vice presidential candidate, Ifeanyi Okowa, and his Akwa Ibom State counterpart, Udom Emmanuel, were also absent at the meeting while hile Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki sent apologies.
Also, absent were some members of the NWC loyal to the Wike camp, including the Deputy National Chairman, South, Taofeek Arapaja and the the national vice chairman, South South, Chief Dan Orbih; national vice chairman, South East, Ali Odefa. Similarly, former minister of information, Jerry Gana and Chief Olabode George, who are were equally absent. George had attended a meeting of the BoT earlier in the day.
Incidentally, the Rivers State governor and majority of his supporters also stayed away from a meeting of the PDP National Caucus on Wednesday.
The meeting was attended by Sokoto governor, Aminu Tambuwal; Bauchi governor, Bala Mohammed; Taraba governor, Dairus Ishaku; Bayelsa governor, Diri Douye, while the Adamawa governor, Ahmadu Fintiri was represented by his deputy.
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