THE Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has submitted to the leadership of the party, the report of its reconciliation effort on the rift between Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and the national chairman of the party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, with the board recommending that the party boss should step down from his office after the 2023 elections.
A meeting on Friday at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja, presided over by the embattled party boss, also asked all stakeholders to honour their commitments to the party and refrain from further inflammatory statements.
The BoT called on the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum to summon a meeting of the forum as part of efforts to reach common ground on the party’s lingering crisis. These were contained in the communique issued after the meeting and read by the interim BoT chairman, Senator Adolphus Wabara.
The communique said: “After the special Board of Trustee meeting, the following resolutions were reached: “To call on all party leaders and persons close to them to desist from making further inflammatory remarks or granting press interviews.
“To call on the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum to convene a meeting of the PDP Governors Forum without further delay.
“To call on all the leaders of the party to match words with action and where commitments are made to unconditionally fulfil same.
“To urge the national chairman, as an eminent leader, to give a firm assurance that he would resign his position after the 2023 elections.
“In the same vein, the BoT chairman has been authorised to offer apologies on behalf of all members who feel maligned or aggrieved by the public statements made by its members across the country that have sharpened the current division in the party.
“To call on the presidential candidate to review his appointments of members of the campaign council and other advisory appointments to make them all-inclusive.
“The BoT will refer some of these recommendations for noting and appropriate actions to NEC of our party in due course.”
The decisions came as Ayu denied allegations by Governor Wike that he had obtained N1 billion and N100 million from a presidential aspirant and a governor, respectively.
Speaking after the BoT meeting on the matter, the party chairman said he had to address the allegations because they had persisted. He said he did not collect N1 billion from anyone but only approached a bank for a loan upon the suggestion of a presidential aspirant.
He explained: “This is a meeting of the BoT which I am only a member. As allegations persist, it is an opportunity to clear the air. I decided not to respond and not to encourage altercations in the party.
“However, I want to make it clear that at no time did I, as the National Chairman of the party, collect any N1 billion from anybody. When we came in and the party had funding difficulties, the presidential aspirant suggested that we should take a loan from the bank and the owner of that bank is a member of the party. He has even left the party.
“The party never took any loan from anybody. Any money advanced to the party was declared before the NWC and handed over to the National Treasurer. All our accounts are up to date and we promised to publish the accounts at the end of the year.”
On the fresh allegation of N100 million raised by Wike on Friday during a live television interview, Ayu said: “On today’s allegations, I fully briefed the BoT that one of our governors made a contribution of 100 million for the revival of the PDI (Peoples Democratic Institute) which was housed in a portacabin and I explained to them that we hired an appropriate place in Asokoro, we have furnished it, renovated it.
“Three days we went there, inspected it and the NWC decided that before commissioning we should invite the governor in question to come and inspect what we have done with his contribution. I am happy that the National Secretary of the party has since written a letter to that governor. I nor the NWC has ever taken any money to carry out that renovation. In fact, we have not even exhausted that N100 million by one of the governors.
“The consistent attack on my person since the end of the convention on the 31st of May, I have refrained from reacting as the father of the party. I felt I should encourage reconciliation. But where it touches on my personal integrity or even my family members are brought into play, I appealed to such people to desist from trying to malign my character or bring my family into party affairs.”
Speaking earlier at the opening of the BoT meeting, Ayu acknowledged that even though the leadership had been working behind the scene, the crisis was yet to be resolved.
He said the National Working Committee (NWC) had met behind closed doors with the aggrieved members but still thought it should involve the BoT to add its voice in the effort to resolve the matter, hoping that the report would help to bring the crisis to rest.
He added: “We have one singular goal in this party and that goal is to win the forthcoming elections, particularly the presidential election. The NWC, of which I am the chairman, is very desirous of having a united party.
“Since we came in, we have worked towards having a very united and effective party that can fight and win the forthcoming elections. In spite of the perceived crisis in the party, we have worked hard behind the scenes to bring about peace and reconciliation in the party.
“Many of us in the NWC have reached out to members of the party who are not happy and talked to them. We had a series of meetings with them and we also felt that since the matter has not been completely resolved, the BoT, as the conscience of the party, as advisors, made up of very responsible members of the party, should also add their voice to what is going on in the party.
“It is on that note that NWC decided to invite the chairman of the BoT to put together the committee, and seek ways of bringing this reconciliation in the party. I am happy that you have done just that.
“So, today, they have completed the assignments and are presenting it to the BoT as a whole. We hope this will help to unite the party or move the party towards a strong position that they will be able to fight and win the elections.
“We have only one desire and that desire is that the party returns to power. And since we came in about 10 months ago, that is all we have been doing.”
The interim chairman of the BoT, Wabara, said there was a vacancy in Aso Villa which he said only the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubukar, should occupy.
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He said the position is for the party to win or lose, depending on if it is able to go into the elections united. Wabara pointed out that there was a need for give-and-take as some egos have been hurt. He said as the conscience of the party, the BoT must take bold and courageous decisions, provided those decisions would take the PDP to the Presidential Villa.
“We have heard all kinds of problems on national television and all kinds of utterances. You will recall that the national chairman led the National Working Committee to pay me a condolence visit, I think, on the 9th of September, a few days after I was appointed, and, in his wisdom, advised that the Board of Trustees should go into the matter expeditiously and he guided me that we should have members of the committee chosen from the zones, that is, the six geopolitical zones.
“I have had the liberty with your support of choosing six members of this special reconciliation committee. So, we hit the ground running by carrying out the assignment with an open mind, guided by the fact that the goal of every one of us should be 2023 because there is a vacancy in the Presidential Villa and it should, as matter of fact, be occupied by no other party than the PDP and no other person than our own Atiku Abubakar.
“This election is for the PDP to win and is also for us to lose if we are not united. So, the aim of this special committee primarily was to find a way of bringing everybody under our big umbrella. No vote is too small. As a matter of fact, all votes are equal. But then, when you start counting, that is what brings you victory.
“We operated on the principle of give-and-take, sacrifice. We know that a lot of egos have been hurt on both sides but we should do all in our power to ensure that we sheathe our swords and then aim at the main thing. The report is what we are presenting to you today for your consideration.”
While noting that the BoT had kept a sealed lip over the crisis not to divulge the resolutions, the BoT chairman said: “Today, I pray that we will come up with a position and you know, our position is advisory but we must be deep in all aspects, being the conscience of the party.
“If we are indeed the conscience of the party, we should be seen to be free and fair, bold and courageous with whatever decisions we are going to take, provided it will ultimately take us to the Villa. If we don’t get to the Villa, we will be disappointing ourselves as a party and we will also be disappointing Nigeria and Nigerians.”