Insists Ayu’s chairmanship undermines unity, constitution of party
I can’t force National Chairman to resign – Atiku
With just six days before the formal opening of Nigeria’s presidential campaigns, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party is in disarray with the Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his clique of governors, which is now threatening to undermine presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar.
The pro-Wike’s group further deepened the crisis rocking the PDP on Wednesday as it pulled out of Atiku’s campaign Council.
This came following a meeting early on Wednesday morning in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Members of the Rivers State Governor’s team vowed not to play any role in Atiku’s campaign ahead of the 2023 general elections.
They insisted that the National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, must resign for them to rescind their decision.
They said there was no going back on the call for Ayu’s resignation as the national chairman of the party.
Present at the meeting were aggrieved party leaders party chieftains, including founding members of the party, governors, former ministers
They insisted that the position must come to the South for balance, justice, and equity in the party, hence they will not play any role in Atiku Abubakar’s campaign council.
They also resolve that an acting Chairman from the South should lead the party on the national campaign, going into the elections.
They made their position known in a resolution read by former deputy national chairman of the party, Bode George, after a long meeting held at Governor Wike’s private residence, near Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
They maintained that their position was not negotiable as the chairmanship of Ayu undermined the unity and constitution of the party.
While accusing Ayu of compromising the May 28 and 29 presidential primaries of the party through his conduct, the members said the published presidential campaign council list was tantamount to putting the cart before the horse.
George while reading the resolution said they were worried over the division in the PDP, saying the party’s internal mechanism should brace up to the challenges.
“We resolve that we are deeply concerned by the division in our party. We are aware that over the years our party has developed conflict resolution mechanisms that guarantee inclusiveness.
“The published presidential campaign council list translates to putting the cart before the horse. The pertinent issue remains the resolution of the leadership which is a departure of
“Senator Iyorchia Ayu must resign as the National Chairman of the party for an acting Chairman of the Southern Nigerian extraction to emerge and lead the party on the national campaign.
“Consequently, we resolved not to participate in the campaign council in whatever capacity until the resignation of Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.”
Another ally of Wike and former Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang, lampooned Ayu for embracing Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tanbuwal, and called him the hero of the convention.
Jang said the action of Ayu showed that the outcome of the primary was preplanned to short-change the other contestants.
He said, “For a National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu to go and embrace Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tanbuwal, calling him the hero of the convention meant that there was a private arrangement that was done with Tambuwal to shortchange other contestants including Governor Wike.
“Here was a referee, who helped one of his sides to score a goal and then blew the whistle. This is not what we formed the PDP to do for Nigerians. Therefore, we unequivocally ask that Ayu must step down.”
The pro-Wike group said their support for Wike was not because he lost the presidential primary or because he was not chosen as the running mate to Atiku but in the interest of equity and justice in the party.
On his part, former Minister of Information, Jerry Gana, said, “You cannot build on a faulty foundation.
“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 just, fair, principled, and constitutional structure for the party. If we want to restructure Nigeria, we should have the courage to restructure our party”.
The Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, said: “We hope that the powers that be listen to the voice of reason and do the needful.”
Reacting in a statement on Wednesday, Atiku said he was surprised by 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 very senior and influential members of our great party, the People’s 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.”
Atiku asked Wike and his allies to retrace their steps and be part of the campaign council.