NATIONAL chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Iyorchia Ayu, on Thursday survived the orchestrated plot to oust him from office in the protracted faceoff between him and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and other members of his bloc. But, the chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, Walid Jibrin, was a major casualty of the power game as a former president of the Senate, Senator Adolphus Wabara took over the seat.
Nonetheless, Wike and his allies succeeded in wresting the post of chairman, PDP Governors Forum as the governor of Sokoto State, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, relinquished the position for his Oyo State counterpart, Seyi Makinde, while the former became the director-general of the party’s presidential campaign council for the 2023 election.
The seeming compromise by the rival camps to the dispute over skewed zoning of strategic elective positions between the North and the South came under threat as Wike described the decision of Jibrin to resign as BoT chairman as a charade in the battle of wits over calls by his camp for Ayu to step aside in the interest of the party ahead of the general election.
These were major highlights at the meeting of the members of the National Executive Committee of the party held in Abuja, who passed a vote of confidence in the embattled national chairman of the party.
The meeting was witnessed by just four of its 11 governors, including Tambuwal (Sokoto), Darius Iskaku (Taraba), Duoye Diri (Bayelsa) and Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), as well as the deputy governors of Benue and Adamawa states.
The motion to throw their weight behind the party boss was moved and adopted against the push by Wike’s group to oust Ayu to pave way for a southern member of the party to assume the post.
The motion of vote of confidence was moved by the House of Representatives Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, and seconded by Ishola Fulani from Kwara State. In moving the motion, the lawmaker commended Ayu and his National Working Committee (NWC) of PDP, noting that the victory of the party in Osun State on July 16 governorship election would not have been possible without them.
He said: “Osun was impossible but God, through you people, made it possible. You have shown maturity. Nigerians are suffering today and PDP is the only solution and that is why it is important for the PDP to unite.
“We must learn to forgive one another. All of us cannot be chairman, presidential candidate. But together we can lead. If only we can be patient, we can lead.
“National cake of Aso Villa is too much for all Nigerians. And this cake means creating the necessary infrastructure for Nigerians, not making fake promises like APC. “A lot has gone wrong. Let us put behind the anger and move forward. It is the devil that is trying to stop us from winning because they know, in the spiritual realm, we have won. “We can never be distracted. We must talk to our people to collect their PVCs.
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“On behalf of my colleagues, we have decided… because the NWC have tremendously performed, our governors are our pride, forget what you are reading. They are united.
“I believe they will deliver their states for PDP come 2023.
“I move that a vote of confidence be put before the NEC for the NWC for their doggedness, forthrightness and their professionalism especially in giving us Osun State and I believe they will give victory in the coming elections.”
In his remarks making allusion to the ongoing crisis in the party, the presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2023 election, Atiku Abubakar, said it is normal for members of a family to have differences, just as he appealed that the present quarrel should be resolved internally. He said there are no fundamental disagreements within the party despite the impression being created. He said: “Let me use this opportunity to thank all members of NEC for your wonderful support during the last convention where I emerged as the candidate of our party.
“I cannot thank you enough, my promise is that I will meet your expectations and the expectations of Nigerians. Let me also use this opportunity to thank our outgoing BoT chairman for his services and sense of patriotism for our great party.
“Many speakers have alluded to family disagreement. Family disagreements are normal even in normal families as well as political families. But what I can assure you is that we are determined to resolve those issues internally.
“There are not really fundamental disagreements, it is normal.
“Today, PDP is the oldest political party in Nigeria from the past republic till today, no political party has existed as long as the PDP. “As a political party, we have our constitution, our rules and our regulations. I want to urge that no matter the level of disagreement, it should be resolved within our constitution, within our rules, within our regulations.
“We have all what it takes to guide us to continue to nurture this political party, to provide a platform for all Nigerians to realize their collective and individual aspirations.
“Therefore I wish to appeal to all members of our party to make sure that all our disagreements are resolved internally.” In his remarks, the former president of the Senate and acting chairman of PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Adolphus Wabara, urged party members to always control their emotions and ensure disagreements within the party are addressed internally.
“The PDP has an inbuilt mechanism to solve problems. We have done it several times. When people expect us to implode, that is when we become very glorious. “I want to advise us that we should always deprive ourselves in-house no matter what the anger is; let us deprive ourselves in-house rather than playing to the gallery,” Wabara said.
Earlier, the party’s National chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, said he was happy that PDP is united and Nigerians are enthusiastic about the party in spite of the impression being created by some people.
“I am happy that the Nigerian people are interested in our party. I am interested not because we disagree among ourselves, but in our capacity to deliver and when we take over power.
“We have done it before and I believe that people will also give us their mandates.” Ayu urged the party to fo- cus on the issues that bother Nigerians, including issues of security, education, economy, health, national infrastructure that will help the country to move forward.
He said: “And I believe this party is as united as anything in spite of whatever impression other people may want to create. Anybody who is here can see the enthusiasm and the harmony in this party. It is normal to family issues. Sometimes, you have family disagreement and we settle.
“This party is famous for settling all disagreements and going on to win elections. This time is not on an exception.
“I am happy that the majority of Nigerian people are interested in our party and so, if we disagree among ourselves, we have capacity to resolve it. We have done it before and I believe the Nigerian people will give us their mandate. We need to focus on what worries the Nigerian people.”
On his part, the chairman, PDP Governors Forum, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, said that the forum was working to address the misunderstanding in the party.
He pledged that PDP governors would continue delivery of dividends of democracy to Nigerians. Tambuwal commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and President Muhammadu Buhari for improving of the country electoral system, urging them to sustain it to make 2023 general elections free and credible.
“We must as people of goodwill, as believers and democracy encourage President Buhari, indeed INEC and all security agencies to ensure that we have free, fair, transparent election in 2023.
“In any case, that was what PDP presided over in 2015. So it’s only an improvement on the legacy of the PDP if that is done by the APC administration,” Tambuwal said.
The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, said that the party caucus in the National Assembly was united and indivisible. The NEC meeting was preceded by that of the BoT of the party where its chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, announced that he had stepped down from the post. The action is in line with his stance that there is the need for realignment of the key positions in the main opposition party following the emergence of Atiku as the presidential candidate of the party for the 2023 presidential election.
The former vice president’s emergence had placed the ticket in the northern zone just like the office of the National Chairman and that of BoT. The Nasarawa State-born Jibrin has been the strongest voice in the party to canvas for the move to restructure the party offices to reflect diversity as he posited that it is unfair for both the presidential candidate of the party and its national chairman to come from the same zone.
“To tell the truth, it will not be fair for the president of Nigeria to be from the north, the chairman of the party from the north and the BoT chairman from the north,” Jibrin had argued before Thursday’s resignation.
Wike rejects Jibrin’s resignation, alleges someone in presidency promises Atiku victory
Reacting to the resignation of Jibrin as BoT chairman of the party, Wike described it as a charade and distraction, adding that Atiku had told him that Ayu must relinquish his position.
The governor said the current leadership structure where the North holds the presidential ticket, as well as the national chairmanship positions, is against the constitution of PDP and a gross injustice to the South.
Wike, during the inauguration of the Ahoada campus of the Rivers State University and flag-off of staff quarters, which was performed by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State on Thursday, noted that the current hierarchy of the PDP does not give room for the interest of the South, particularly when decisions are to be taken.
“Ayu said if the presidential candidate comes from the North, he will resign after the convention of the party, and that the chairman of our party will come from the South. When the NorthCentral leaders met in the house of 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 a.m. The candidate told me he wants 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,” Wike stated.
He challenged the presidential candidate of PDP to deny the comment and be ready to hear many other things that had transpired between them relating to the current crisis. Wike accused some vested interest in the PDP of being arrogant because they are being backed by someone in the presidency, warning that they should bear in mind that an All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential aspirant the person they are relying on backed failed to clinch his party’s ticket.
“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,” he said.
Performing the inauguration of the Ahoada campus, Governor Makinde noted the efforts of Governor Wike to deliver quality projects round the calendar.