Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike (middle); To his right are Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde; former Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko; former Governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang; To Wike’s left are former PDP South-West National Vice Chairman, Chief Olabode George; former Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo and others after a stakeholders meeting in Port Harcourt…yesterday.
• Atiku: I can’t force Ayu to resign
• Bode George reiterates position on Southern chairmanship
• Crisis will soon be over, BoT chairman assures
• Oyo PDP, Southwest forum back Wike, Makinde
• Wike’s demand noble, says APC chieftain
After maintaining a studied silence since last week when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) unveiled its presidential campaign committee for 2023 elections that included the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, the governor’s camp, yesterday, withdrew from the committee, reigniting a fresh episode in the crisis that had gripped the opposition party since it concluded its presidential primary in May.
Wike had for days been unusually silent over his inclusion in the committee that included fellow presidential aspirants, Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, as director general, and Akwa Ibom State counterpart, Udom Emmanuel, as chairman, raising hopes that the last may have been heard over calls for the resignation of the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu; but the wounds were reopened yesterday by the camp’s latest position.
The decision, The Guardian gathered, was taken after a marathon meeting by the team, which started on Tuesday night and lasted till 3:00a.m. yesterday, at Wike ‘s private residence in Rumuepirikom, Obio-Akpor Council of Rivers.
Members of the team agreed not to participate in Atiku Abubakar’s presidential campaign activities pending the resignation of Ayu.
The meeting came barely a week after the party appointed some members of the group into Atiku’s campaign committee where Wike was slated as a member and Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, was listed as the Vice Chairman (South).
Those who attended yesterday’s meeting included PDP chieftain, Bode George; Makinde, former governors of Ondo, Cross River, Plateau and Ekiti states, Olusegun Mimiko, Donald Duke, Jonah Jang and Ayo Fayose, respectively.
Others were former Information Minister, Prof Jerry Gana; and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chibudom Nwuche.
In a communique read by George, the team resolved that unless Ayu resigns his position as the national chairman of the party for an acting Southern chairman, they would not participate in the campaigns.
Recall that despite the resignation of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) Chairman, Walid Jibrin, Wike and his group expressed dissatisfaction and insisted that Ayu must vacate office, stating that both the presidential candidate and chairman of the party cannot come from the same region (North).
George said: “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 of the party, which is a departure from the spirit and letter of our Constitution, which undermines the unity of our great party.”
Also speaking, Jang said: “We want to take this opportunity to assure our teeming supporters that everything Wike has been saying is not because he lost the presidential primary or was overlooked as the running mate. We are all in support of what Wike is saying because he has been saying nothing but the truth.”
Gana said: “We are solid party men and women who wish the very best for Nigeria. The PDP ruled Nigeria before for 16 years. We are desirous that such kind of excellent governance comes back to this country 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 and 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.”
Makinde said: “Our leaders and elders have basically highlighted all the issues and they are not different from all the things I mentioned at the Southwest consultative meeting last week. That is exactly where we are. We are hopeful that the powers that be will listen to the voice of reason and do the needful.”
Speaking further last night on the issue during Channels Television Politics Today, George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the party, urged the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku, to have a rethink on the composition of the party and allow justice, fairness and equity to prevail. He warned that the party’s interest superimposes all other private and personal interests.
George said it’s a contradiction that Atiku, who sees himself as a unifier, couldn’t resolve the issues in the party in an amicable way, adding that the thoughts that Southerners don’t matter for him to emerge as president is insensitive.
“This party stands on a tripod: justice, fairness and equity. We wrapped it up and called it inclusivity. A three-legged body is a stable platform.
“You are telling us that it doesn’t matter, that the South doesn’t matter and that you have some friends in the South, if that is your attitude in managing this country, does that make sense? A leader must be humble and respect the will of the people because it is the votes of these people multiplied that will get you to the villa.
“During the discussion last night (Tuesday), everybody still stated emphatically that they will remain PDP members and they are not ready to go anywhere. We are sending a signal for them to rethink; the party interest superimposes all other private and personal interests.
IN his reaction, Atiku has charged Wike and his allies to review their withdrawal from the party’s presidential campaign council. He declared that the call for the resignation of Ayu as national chairman is unrealistic because nobody can force him to resign.
Atiku insisted that the call for Ayu’s removal cannot be achieved because every organ of the party that should initiate the removal of the chairman has already passed a vote of confidence on Ayu.
In a statement he personally signed yesterday, Atiku charged party leaders to commit themselves to the task of rebuilding the nation and redeeming it from the shackles of poverty, insecurity and other socio-economic rot adding that it is time to move on.
He said: “I was personally surprised with this withdrawal because, as I have been informed by officials of our party, apart from Rivers chapter of the PDP, all the remaining states of the federation submitted names of people who they wanted included in the presidential campaign council.
“I must reiterate what I have said severally in public and in private; the decision for Ayu to resign from office is personal to Ayu and, neither I nor anyone else can make that decision for him.
“As to the calls for the removal of 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, organised and regulated by law and our Constitution, it is my absolute belief that every thing that we do in our party must be done in accordance with, and conformity to, the law and our constitution.
“If Ayu is to be removed from office, it must be done in accordance with the laws that set out the basis for such removal. In any event, you will all recall that the very body that is empowered by law to initiate this removal from office, has already passed a vote of confidence in him. ”
FORMER Senate President and Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Adolphus Wabara, has said the crisis rocking the party would be resolved soon. Wabara gave the assurance on Wednesday in Makurdi, Benue State, when he led members of the BoT on a conciliatory visit to Governor Samuel Ortom.
The former Senate President, while fielding questions from newsmen shortly after commissioning the remodelled Ape Aku Lodge within the Benue Government House, acknowledged that all was not well within the party.
He, however said “there is no family without problems and that is exactly why we have come. As I said earlier, there is no problems without solution. We should just watch our utterances, because we will all come back to the same table in the interest of Nigerians.
“So, we will reach out to the groups. That is why we came here so that he will create the enabling environment for us to reach to those aggrieved. Yes they have very strong points, we will look at it as the conscience of the party and come out with a decision very soon.
Ortom, in his remarks, commended the team for embarking on the reconciliation initiative, saying it would have been done before now.
The governor, who acknowledged that he was also aggrieved, said: “I have been with Governor Wike, we are friends and colleagues who share common understanding on these issues. I commend the BoT for taking these steps because reconciliation is very key.
OYO State PDP chapter has reiterated its support for Wike, Ortom, Makinde and others over their demand that Ayu must resign for a Southerner to step in.
In similar manner, Southwest Forum of PDP Stakeholders for Justice, led by former spokesmen of Lagos and Ondo chapters, Taofik Gani and Banji Okunomo, affirmed its support for the governors, saying it commended the doggedness of Wike and the wisdom of George as a lasting panacea for peace and eventual victory of the party at the 2023 presidential election.
Spokesman of Oyo PDP, Hakeem Olatunji, said Wike’s demand is a fight for the integrity of the South and nothing personal.
In another reaction, former Ogun State chairman of PDP, Adebayo Dayo, said the attitude of the North towards the South in PDP is tantamount to arrogance and disrespect.
A MEMBER of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) National Caucus, Chief Sam Nkire, has blamed the crisis rocking the opposition party on PDP’s disobedience to the spirit of rotation inscribed in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, Nkire said for the PDP to zone the presidency back to the North after the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari, amounted to disrespecting the Constitution of Nigeria, members of the PDP from the South and the people of Nigeria in general.
The APC stalwart maintained that Wike’s battle in the PDP was a noble cause, which every patriotic Nigerian must commend, no matter his or her political ideology or persuasion.
Nkire agreed that the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the APC no doubt ruffled many feathers but added that, “nothing could be more heinous and unpardonable than breaking down the plank upon which the bridge across Nigeria’s unity rests.”
THE spokesperson of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, has pleaded with the Wike group to reconsider their steps, especially, yesterday’s decision to pull out of the council.
Aniagwu, while speaking with The Guardian, said: “The issues they have raised are the same issues they have raised before now. We have examined the issues before and it was part of efforts to resolve it that the then chairman of the party’s BoT resigned his position.
“The other issues they are raising, as leaders of the party, we believe they understand the position of the party’s Constitution regarding them. Except they feel there are other solutions that will not go against the tenets of that constitution. It may not augur well to offend the position of the party, because you may not know the mind of some individuals who may want to go to court to challenge it.
“Even if some people may feel okay and do not activate that process, anybody that has the locus standi can decide to do so and that would plunge the party into crisis. That is why we have been pleading that we should all join hands and prosecute the coming elections, thereafter we can again look at those issues they have raised, which we believe is within their democratic rights.”