• I can’t force Ayu to resign — Atiku

• PDP crisis over soon — BoT chairman


‘Seun Ibukun-Oni, Abuja; Patrick Kelechi, Lagos


DAILY COURIER – The crisis rocking the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has further deemed the chances of the presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, even as he maintained that he cannot force Iyorchia Ayu to resign as national chairman.


Atiku, who spoke in response to the withdrawal of the Wike camp from the PDP Presidential Campaign Council over Ayu’s retention, urged them to reconsider their stand.


A group of aggrieved members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), led by Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike, has pulled out from the presidential campaign council of the party for the 2023 elections.


Rising from their stormy meeting in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, the group declared that its members will not participate in the campaign council unless the National Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, resigns for a southern candidate.


Some members of the group, including the Oyo and Rivers state governors, were recently appointed as leaders and members of the campaign council for the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.


The meeting held at the Rivers governor’s residence in Port Harcourt, had in attendance, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State; former Governors Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo, Ayo Fayose of Ekiti, Donald Duke of Cross River, Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe and Jonah Jang of Plateau, former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke.


Others at the meeting included chief Olabode George, Jerry Gana; South-South Chairman of the PDP, Dan Orbih; former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chibudom Nwuche; Senator Suleiman Nazif, Nnenna Ukeje, among several others.


Reading out the communique after the meeting, Bode George, said the campaign council list released by the party, which has the name of Wike is “putting the cart before horse.”


“The published presidential campaign council list translates to putting the cart before horse, the pertinent issue remains the Ayu leadership.


“We, therefore, resolve that senator Iyorchia Ayu resigns as the national chairman for an acting chairman of southern Nigeria extraction.


“We resolved not to participate in the campaign council in whatever capacity until the resignation of Dr Iyorchia Ayu”, he said.


I can’t force Ayu to resign — Atiku


Urging Wike and others to reconsider their withdrawal from his campaign council for Nigeria’s sake, Atiku Abubakar, said he was shocked by their withdrawal.


In a statement he signed, the PDP presidential candidate said his surprise stemmed from the fact that except for Rivers State, all other states nominated persons who were included in the list of council members.


He noted that his attention was drawn to the press conference in which the aggrieved party leaders “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 continued: “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 they wanted to be 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.


“If Dr. Ayu is to be removed from office, it must be done in accordance with the laws that set out the basis for such removal. In any event, you will all recall that the very body that is empowered by law to initiate this removal from office has already passed a vote of confidence in him.“


PDP crisis over soon — BoT chairman


However, former Senate President and Chairman of the PDP, Board of Trustees, BoT, Senator Adolphus Wabara, said the crisis rocking the party would be resolved soon.


Senator Wabara gave the assurance, yesterday, in Makurdi when he led members of the BoT on a conciliatory visit to Governor Ortom, who he described as a major voice and leading example in the party.


Wabara, fielding questions from newsmen after commissioning the re-modelled Aper Aku Lodge within the Benue Government House, acknowledged that all is not well within the party.


He, however, said: “There is no family without problems and that is exactly why we have come to the head, to encourage us with suggestions. As I said earlier, there is no problem without a solution. We should just watch our utterances because we will all come back to the same table in the interest of Nigerians.


“So we will reach out to the groups. That is why we came here so that he will create the enabling environment for us to reach those aggrieved. Yes, they have very strong points; we will look at it as the conscience of the party and come out with a decision very soon.”


Governor Ortom, in his remark, commended the team for embarking on the reconciliation initiative saying it would have been done before now.


The Governor, who acknowledged that he was also aggrieved said: “I have been with Governor Wike, we are friends and colleagues who share a common understanding on these issues. I commend the BoT for taking these steps because reconciliation is very key.


“The party leadership would have deployed its internal conflict resolution mechanism long ago, maybe because somebody else was there before but I commend this effort.


“Politics as I know in my over 40 years of practice is full of conflicts but you must discuss it and find solutions. People have diverse interests; you must look at it and see how there can be a win- win for all. But treating people as if they are nothing or they have no value does not make sense to me. So I am pleased with what the BOT is trying to do. They have seen me, we have discussed, they are also going to see other governors and I believe that atthe end of the day, we shall do something that will bring us together.”


“I am an aggrieved person too and that is why they came. We should be working together and they are here as fathers, mothers, leaders, and as the conscience of the party, to discuss with us. We have made our positions known that we are not happy with the way the leadership of the party at the national level is managing the party. They need to do something.”