From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Governors elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as well as other stakeholders of the party are currently divided over the continuous stay in office of the party’s National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu.
While some are insisting that Ayu should step down as party chairman, given the emergence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a Northerner, as the party’s flag bearer in next year’s Presidential election, some others are of the view that even if Ayu should step down, it should not be now to avoid a crisis that might rock the political boat of the party and lead to its defeat in the election.
Saturday Sun gathered that the festering crisis has polarised the PDP Governors Forum, as well as other organs of the opposition party, including the National Working Committee. The governors, it was gathered, are sharply divided over the alleged push by the Governor Nyesom Wike group for the replacement of the National Chairman as a pre-condition for reconciliation.
Sources said that the division in the governors’ forum is such that it is affecting the cohesion of the National Working Committee (NWC). All the members are said to owe allegiance to governors that facilitated their elections into the party’s organ.
It is also such that no meeting of the Governors’ Forum has held since June 16, when the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, chose Delta State governor, as his running mate for the 2023 polls, and thus precipitating the continuous calls for the removal of Ayu as national chairman.
Multiple sources told Saturday Sun that out of the 12 PDP governors (minus Wike), four are supporting Wike while seven are with Atiku/Ayu. One is said to be non-committal at the moment.
Those on the side of Wike include Seyi Makinde, Samuel Ortom, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Okezie Ikpeazu of Oyo, Benue, Enugu and Abia states, respectively, while Okowa, Aminu Tambuwal, Ahmadu Fintiri, Darius Ishaku, Godwin Obaseki, Emmanuel Udom and Diri Douye of Delta, Sokoto, Adamawa, Taraba, Edo, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa states are said to be backing Ayu and Atiku Abubakar. Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi is said to be on the fence.
But a source close to one of the governors said that despite the crisis rocking the party at the momen,t none of the actors was contemplating the party. A story had earlier quoted Wike as suing the party and Aminu Tambuwal over the result of the presidential primary. But speaking at the commissioning of the House of Assembly Quarters in Port Harcourt, yesterday Wike debunked the news report, adding that he was focused on delivering the dividends of democracy to the people of Rivers State.
He said: “People have called me that I went to court against Atiku Abubakar. I want to state categorically that I didn’t go to court. I just want to say it for Nigerians to know. If they lose election, nobody should call my name. I have told the candidate. If I wanted to go to court, I would have gone to court within two weeks. It is the candidate’s group that is doing all these things. Let the world hear. They are the ones plotting all these things, thinking they will spoil my name. We are supposed to be talking about winning an election.”
Atiku’s supporters are said to be urging the party leadership to move on with its preparations for the 2023 general elections, without the Wike’s camp in the event that the latter continues to maintain a hard stance in the reconciliation. However, Solomon Bob, a member of the House of Representatives from Rivers State, told Saturday Sun, in an interview that Wike “wants nothing less than sincere, genuine and unscripted attempt to fully reconcile.”
He also implored Atiku to show commitment to the reconciliation process by mounting pressures on Ayu to step aside as national chairman.
However, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, told journalists, on Thursday night, that the party could not remove its National Chairman now, noting that the PDP would not want to go the 2023 polls with a divided house.