Ex-VP, Atiku Abubakar (left), Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers and PDP chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.
THE crisis rocking the nation’s main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party deepened on Wednesday as Governor Nyesom Wike’s team reportedly pulled out of the campaign Council of the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
This came following a meeting early on Wednesday morning in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Our correspondent gathered that 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 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 resolved 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, Chief 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 cat before the horse.
George while reading the resolution said they were worried over the division in the PDP, saying the parry’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 cat before the horse. The pertinent issue remains the resolution of the leadership which is a departure of the party’s norm.
“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 resolve 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, Senator 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, Prof. 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”.
Among those who were also at the parley included: Former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, ex-governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayo Fayose, former governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke, former governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, ex-minister of Justice and Attorney of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Adoke and a former member of the House of Representatives, Nnenna Ukeje.
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Additional report by Punch.