- National Chairman, Ayu, suspended
- It’ll take 10 years for party to recover from crisis – Analysts
- Blame NWC for selling PDP to highest bidders – TH Stakeholders
BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, MAYOWA SAMUEL AND BRIGHT JACOB
With the current internal crisis rocking the opposition Peoples Democratic Party after the 2023 general elections, it could take the next 10 years before normalcy is restored in the party, The Point’s investigations have shown. It was gathered that the crisis bedeviling the PDP seems to be spiraling out of control with widening division in the once flourishing party threatening its very foundation.
Respondents who spoke to The Point over the weekend opined that the party acted in bad faith by going against its rotation agreement before the 2023 general elections, adding that the situation jeopardised its chances of victory at the recently held presidential election. They contended that the fallout of the presidential primary of the party, last year, was a potential red flag that was badly managed by the party’s leadership in a manner that was devoid of diplomacy and altruism.
According to them, the party’s failure to handle disgruntled members with tact, and treat their matter with the fairness it deserved was the proverbial last straw that broke the camel’s back. The respondents berated the party leadership for its failure to learn from the catastrophic occurrence of 2014, saying “those who failed to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” Legal luminary, Tunji Ogunyemi of the Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, said things had never been at ease with the main opposition party since it lost control of the government in 2015, stressing that with the current war of attrition going on within the party, it might take it 10 years to get to power at the centre again.
“ORDINARILY, NIGERIANS WERE READY TO CHANGE THE APC. UNFORTUNATELY, PDP WAS NOT READY. IMAGINE PETER OBI JOINING THE LABOUR PARTY IN JUST SEVEN MONTHS AND BECOMING A FACTOR. IT WAS BECAUSE NIGERIANS WERE LOOKING FOR AN ALTERNATIVE AND WHEN THE PDP WAS NOT THERE, THEY SAW LP AND JUST EMBRACED IT. AYU SHOULD GO. HE IS TO BLAME FOR ALL THIS NONSENSE”
He said, “The truth of the matter is that those who are in the PDP are not really used to not being in the corridors of power. You know the ultimate goal of any political party is to organise for the purpose of gaining political power.
“PDP was formed in 1998, came to power in 1999 and didn’t leave until 2015, so, if such a political party is not in power for more than five or 10 years, there is a possibility that things will no longer be at ease with them.” Ogunyemi blamed the party for going against the principle of rotation, saying whatever decision the party’s Congress took, could never supercede the party’s constitutional provision.
“I think the PDP shot itself in the foot by calling a meeting at the Congress to take a decision and later went against its own fundamental law, which is rotation. You don’t approbate and reprobate at the same time. The decision of your Congress cannot supercede that of your Constitution, except if you take steps to first of all amend that constitution, gazette it and send a copy to the INEC.
“Since this was not done, it goes to show that PDP’s Congress or National Working Committee or whatever name it is called acted mala fide, it acted in bad faith and it imperiled its chances of ever recovering Nigerians’ solidarity. It will take PDP 10 years before it can get its vote of confidence back from Nigerians,” he submitted. The rumbling in the party saw many chieftains and stakeholders across the country “doing their own things” during the last elections, according to a chieftain of the party in Delta State who craved anonymity.
He castigated the Iyorchia Ayu-led National Working Committee for “selling the party to the highest bidders and in the process giving away an election the party should have won easily.” Fuming with anger, he said, “I don’t think NWC is serious. We have missed the road. As for me, anything can happen any moment from now. Without the component units, there can never be the centre.
You take decisions that will affect the units adversely and expect things to go right, it is not possible. “Just imagine, here in Delta, if not for Ned Nwoko, there wouldn’t have been a PDP senator from Delta State. It has never happened before. Ayu should step aside; he thinks things are still what they used to be. During the election, many chieftains of the party were just doing their own things.
They were openly working for other parties. See what happened in Rivers State where the governor worked for the APC. How can five governors be doing their own things and you will sleep soundly? “How can serving and former senators, serving and former governors be openly against the party and you overlook them? See people like Anyim Pius Anyim in Ebonyi, or Ayo Fayose in Ekiti? I don’t want to mention people in our state here, you know them. How can you not be worried that Rivers is not in the bag?” “Ordinarily, Nigerians were ready to change the APC.
Unfortunately, PDP was not ready. Imagine Peter Obi joining the Labour Party in just seven months and becoming a factor. It was because Nigerians were looking for an alternative and when the PDP was not there, they saw LP and just embraced it. Ayu should go. He is to blame for all this nonsense,” he said. Solomon Kumangar, Director-General, Media and Communications to Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State, echoed the same sentiments.
He castigated the national chairman for “losing the catapult and losing the bird” at the same time. He said, “I believe, because Ayu is the leader, it is Ayu who is responsible for all this. If he had consented to step down, then all these major states like Oyo, Abia, Enugu, Rivers, and Benue wouldn’t have gone to the opposition.
He ended up even losing his own state, so what was the point of holding on to the seat? What was the point for him to have sat tight when he knew it was better for him to lose his seat as the chairman, and gain the seat of the presidency? “Of course, he would have been compensated adequately, it was a matter of choice. PDP was indebted as a matter of the choice he made.
The truth of the matter is that if he had decided to step down in the interest of the party, these five governors would have had no other excuse but to support Atiku Abubakar. Today, it is not the catapult and not the bird, you lost the catapult and you lost the bird.” Kumangar then urged the party to go back to the drawing table and come out stronger so that it won’t lose its position as the leading opposition party to the Labour Party. “I think everybody should swallow his pride and let’s come back to the drawing table and see how we can mend fences, heal the old wounds and go as a complete family.
But if we’re not able to do that, and do it immediately, it definitely means that our days as the main opposition party are over because the Labour Party will supplant us. Here was a party that had no structure but today, they have Senators-elect, one governor-elect, several newly elected members of the Houses of Assembly, and House of Representatives. The indicators are there that if we don’t put our house together, if we don’t unite and move forward as one big family, then another opposition party can supplant and overtake us.”
A political affairs analyst based in Abia State, Iheanacho Nwuzo, said the PDP had continued to go downhill since Atiku emerged as its presidential candidate. He blamed the former Vice President’s penchant for always trying to satisfy and make politicians happy. He also said he foresaw a further disintegration of the PDP.
Nwuzo said for the party to have any chance of survival, it had to do away with its national chairman. In his opinion, Ayu’s scorecard for the party after the general elections was abysmal. In addition, he said the present composition of the PDP was nothing near the pre-2015 PDP. Nwuzo said, “I think the PDP has continued to go downhill since Atiku emerged as its presidential candidate.
And this is so because Atiku always wants to satisfy and make politicians in the party happy all the time. But you shouldn’t do that because men are hard to please, and no matter what you do for them, they will always find holes in what you do. “I am not a prophet of doom, but I foresee a further disintegration and implosion of the party. They are not ready for genuine reconciliation yet.”
He added, “The PDP has to do away with its national chairman. I wonder what they are still waiting for. Personally, I don’t see what value Ayu brings to the table for them. He couldn’t ‘deliver’ his state to the PDP during the presidential election, and yet each time the party meets, they will be passing a vote of confidence in him and the party’s NWC. “Pre-2015, the PDP was a very calculative and ambitious party, though I didn’t like them for being brash after they said they would rule Nigeria for the next 60 years.
However, that was the mentality they used to have that is missing today. They need to wake up.” Asked whether Atiku’s inordinate ambition to be president or the party’s leadership failure was to blame for the current travails of the party, Nwuzo said it was both. Albeit, he said Atiku’s ignorance about how to manage politicians was his greatest undoing. On the implications the disquiet within the party poses for the polity, Nwuzo said there was none. But he was quick to add that it would only mean that the PDP was prepping itself to lose another presidential election in 2027.
“Atiku’s inordinate ambition to be president and the party’s leadership failure to learn from 2015 are both to blame for the party’s present woes. But there is something even bigger. You see, Atiku’s ignorance about how to manage men is his greatest undoing. Even God’s people perish for lack of knowledge.
“They cried that the presidency should be zoned to the South, but it was party members led by Benue State Governor, Ortom, that threw the presidential contest open in the party in the first place. “This is one of the reasons I say there’s no implication of all these PDP brouhaha for the polity, except that if the party continues on its present trajectory, they may lose the next presidential election in 2027,” he concluded.
Last week, the party took a drastic step to assert itself by suspending known names and referring Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue to appear before its disciplinary committee. The action has further polarised the party. Instead of healing, it rather rubbed a combination of salt and pepper into its festering wounds.
Senator Anyim Pius Anyium, a former Senate President and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who was one of those affected by PDP’s swinging axe last week Thursday, wasted no time in hitting back at the party. He calmly claimed he was proud to have worked against the party. Anyim, in a five-paragraph statement on Friday, said his suspension by the NWC of the PDP was “to say the least, disappointing.”
He stressed that the party ought to have concerned itself with how to undertake a “thorough self-examination on why they performed so poorly in the 2023 elections rather than seek to further divide the party by shifting blames.” He said, “It smacks of arrogance for the NWC to put up a bold face instead of showing remorse and being sober for leading the party to such a colossal loss in the 2023 elections, thereby dashing hopes and expectations of the party members and indeed Nigerians.
“It is clear that arising from the leadership style of the NWC, many members, intentionally and proudly, worked against the party including members of the NWC.
Therefore, it is a display of innate cowardice for NWC to choose soft targets to suspend and fear those that daily demonize them.” Anyim revealed the culture of impunity within the party and how the Ayu-led NWC gave tacit support to such impunity. He accused the PDP of “imposing” its governorship candidate on the state from outside the zone favoured by the existing zoning formula to produce a governor in the state. He stated, “Every effort to let the NWC see reason fell on deaf ears. On the day the party’s presidential rally was held in Ebonyi State, I told Dr. Ayu that I was boycotting the rally because I could not support the candidate they imposed on Ebonyi State. “Dr. Ayu did nothing. He did not care even though I did not attend the Ebonyi rally.
The NWC may wish to know that I am proud to have supported the APC gubernatorial candidate in Ebonyi State to win the election because that conforms to the equitable formula in Ebonyi State.” In like manner, the arrowhead of the G5, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, fired missiles in the direction of Ayu. He said the party boss should be the one to be suspended for anti-party activities, not Fayose, Ortom, or Anyim. “If there is any person deserving suspension it should be you (Ayu), who played anti-party by refusing to obey the constitution of the party on the zoning of political offices as is required. So, whoever tells you to suspend people, please tell the person that he is not serious. “If you are talking of anti-party, it is you who could not even deliver your unit, de liver your ward that is involved. Because of the fraudulent activities you are involved in, people have lost hope in you,” he stated. Meanwhile, some political analysts have advised the party to restructure in order to find its feet again in the political arena, saying that the suspension of the likes of Ayo Fayose, Pius Anyim, and others was overdue. A former Dean of Students Affairs, Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Oluyemi OmotoshoJunior, said, “What PDP needs is restructuring. The party should be rejigged. I think it will make them come to the table and speak. Just like someone said, someone that is the Chairman of the party but couldn’t deliver for his party in his polling unit, and he is now suspending somebody.
What legitimacy does he have?” Reacting similarly, another political thinker, Kanmi Ademiluyi, averred, “I think the PDP should have done this (suspension) about four months ago. A modern political party is based on democratic centralism in which at the end, you must be subjected to party discipline. It seems that the PDP is trying to boot itself to become a vibrant political party again.”
Meanwhile, other PDP chieftains have said the party will bounce back soon after putting its house in order and mending fences. One of the party stalwarts in Osun State, Isaiah Fayemi, said, “I am very optimistic that PDP will find its feet again. A party where there is no discipline will be setting a bad precedent. There is a section to what we have done (suspension) according to the constitution of the party and that’s exactly what has been dished out to them. So, whosoever has such a thing in mind will think twice before doing it because he knows that he cannot do it and go scot-free.
“I know that the leadership of the party will have to sit down again and bring the warring parties together so that we can work as a team in subsequent elections. Somebody was picked as a presidential candidate and somebody has been there as a party chairman, so, you are now saying that the party chairman should step aside.
Okay, what if he had stepped aside and Atiku still lost, what will now happen to the Northerners? What will be their gain in the party?” “So, the party has acted within the ambit of the law and it did well; it’s just that those people were just self-centered. I don’t blame the leadership of the party for what they have done,” he added. Echoing similar views, Ondo State PDP Publicity Secretary, Kennedy Peretei, said, “PDP will definitely come out strong, even stronger than we had it pre-2015. You know in traditional Yoruba mythology, they say when a child falls, he looks at his front but when an old man falls, he looks back to check what fell him.
So, the PDP is going to go back to the drawing board. Like the suspension of Fayose and co, it is expected because you cannot be a member of a party and openly work against the interest of the party. “What do you want to achieve with that? You can say all kinds of things that the party didn’t take care of itself by resolving issues or whatever, that one is neither here nor there, but the final analysis is that you openly canvassed and worked against the party and that’s what the party is trying to attend to.”
“READING THE RESOLUTION OF THE WARD EXCO, THE SECRETARY OF THE PARTY IN IGYOROV WARD, BANGER DOOYUM, SAID AYU’S ANTI-PARTY ACTIVITIES CONTRIBUTED TO PDP LOSING IN HIS WARD AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT ALONG WITH HIS ALLIES WHO ALSO DID NOT VOTE DURING THE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION”
“So, at the level of the state, we are actually doing a post-mortem on a local government by local government basis on what happened and at the end of these meetings, we are going to issue statements as to what exactly went wrong and what we are doing as a party. But, if you ask me whether it is going to affect the party, it can only affect it positively. So, no cause for alarm, we are on top of the situation. It’s just one of these things that happen in political parties but we are going to deal with it,” Peretei noted. Also, Lagos State PDP Chairman, Philip Aivoji, expressed optimism that the party would soon find its voice and stand on its feet.
He said the presidential election was not lost yet, saying the party was rigged out. He stated, “For me, the presidential election is not lost because we were rigged out of the election based on facts. What INEC did, I’ve aired my complaints and I’ve addressed the press. So, until all these things are resolved, I don’t believe anything is lost yet. “I don’t see any issues with my party, this thing has been ongoing, and it bothers the nation. If the National Working Committee, in its wisdom, finds out certain things and makes certain decisions, which people thought were long overdue, then I don’t see anything that I should bother myself about. Let’s think of how Nigeria will be better.”
“We have gone through serious issues where Ali Modu Sheriff was planted in our midst to destroy the party, but the party is still here, if not for the problem of G5, the difference would have been clear. They used this to manipulate so many things. I will not subscribe to raising all these minor issues, let’s address the major ones.
No matter the situation we find ourselves in now, it is just temporary,” he said.
BENUE PDP SACKS AYU FOR ANTIPARTY ACTIVITIES
Meanwhile, the Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party in Igyorov Ward of Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State has suspended the National Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, with immediate effect. The Ward Exco suspended Ayu for antiparty activities after passing a vote of no confidence against him. Reading the resolution of the ward Exco, the Secretary of the party in Igyorov Ward, Banger Dooyum, said Ayu’s anti-party activities contributed to PDP losing in his ward and local government along with his allies who also did not vote during the governorship election.
Ayu was also accused of not paying his annual dues as enshrined in the party’s constitution. Twelve out of the 17 Exco members signed the documents to endorse his suspension. The Exco also alleged that the PDP National Chairman did not vote during the governorship and state assembly elections held on March 18, 2023. According to them, most of Ayu’s closest allies worked for the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, which resulted in the abysmal performance of the PDP in Igyorov Ward. The ward chairman of Igyorov, Kashi Philip, also signed the letter along with 11 other Exco members.