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PDP National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu

The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party on Wednesday convened an emergency meeting following the withdrawal of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, his Oyo State counterpart, Seyi Makinde, ex-Information Minister, Prof. Jerry Gana, and other prominent party chieftains from the party’s presidential campaign council.

The Wike camp announced their plan not to participate in the campaign council which was scheduled for inauguration next Wednesday after a meeting at Wike’s private residence in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Wednesday morning.

They hinged their decision on the failure of the party’s Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu to resign from office, insisting that the position must come to the South for balance, justice, and equity.

Sequel to the development, the main opposition party went into a marathon meeting to deliberate on the impact of the withdrawal on the party’s plans.

The party spokesman, Debo Ologunagba confirmed to The PUNCH on Wednesday that the party had been meeting since Wike’s camp announced their withdrawal from the campaign council, adding that the National Working Committee would announce their decision today (Thursday).

“As a party, we need to take a firm position to rebuild and rebrand our party. We have been in a marathon meeting since morning (Wednesday). But one thing is clear, no one has rejected our presidential candidate; that is very important. The meeting will continue tomorrow (today) and after the meeting, we will make our position clear,’’ he stated.

But the Wike camp insisted that only the removal of Ayu would make them rescind their decision.

The PUNCH reports that Wike, who lost the presidential ticket to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in the May primaries, has so far refused to be swayed by entreaties to work with Ayu.

Reacting to the withdrawal from his campaign council on Wednesday, Atiku in a statement he personally signed reiterated his decision not to interfere in the demands for Ayu’s removal.

The statement titled, ‘Let us join hands and move on with the task of nation building,’ read in part, “Early this morning (Wednesday), my attention was drawn to a news clip in which several very senior and influential members of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party, addressed the press and, amongst other things, 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, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, on the other hand.

“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 who they wanted 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.’’

The presidential candidate further said that as a committed democrat and firm believer in the rule of law and democratic tenets, and the party being one set up, organised and regulated by law and constitution, it is his belief that everything must be done in accordance with, and in conformity to the law and the PDP constitution.

He noted, “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 his removal from office has already passed a vote of confidence in him.’’

He, therefore, appealed to the party members to join his drive to lead the country and rebuild the nation.

Atiku also urged the party members that announced their withdrawal from his campaign council to have a rethink.

However, a member of the party’s National Executive Committee, Chief Olisa Metuh, said Atiku would go on with the campaigns even as he berated a member of Wike’s camp, Chief Bode George, for his “hatred for Atiku.”

He told The PUNCH, “Bode George has consistently advocated for the South but Nigeria is made up of the South and North. He has also been consistent in his hatred for Atiku.

“Atiku will go on with the campaigns because not doing so would be a victory for those who don’t want him to succeed. Truth is, Atiku has no power to remove Ayu.’’

Dismissing the Wike’s camp’s demands, a member of the PDP National Working Committee, Timothy Osadolor, carpeted the Rivers governor for allegedly holding on to his grudges for too long, warning that his ego might be his undoing.

Osadolor said the call for Ayu’s sacking was a plot to sabotage the party’s chances in the 2023 elections.

He stated, “The situation is being taken too far; Wike is crying too much for a matured person. I don’t know why Wike with all the experiences he had achieved in life cannot get over the loss of the primary. Ego is good but ego to some candidates can lead to destruction.’’

The NWC member further stated, “Why did you want to bring down the house because of your interest? Calling for the sacking of Iyorchia Ayu and supporters at his whims is not possible which he knows is not possible at this time which is not even what he wants.

“I believe calling for the sacking of Iyorchia Ayu is to sabotage the general elections and I believe he is already manifesting in his actions.”

However, the former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Bode George, stressed that the demands for Ayu’s resignation were not a constitutional but a moral issue that requires little reasoning to unify the party.

George stated this when he appeared on Channels TV programme, ‘Politics Today,’ on Wednesday night.

Justifying the demand, he said, “We are not talking about removing him or forcing him to resign. What we are saying is Senator Ayu by himself stated that peradventure the presidential candidate emerges from the north, he would resign. So why is he sticking to the point of our constitution?

“What we are talking about is purely a moral issue. Once we use the same moral issue to allow Atiku Abubakar to compete at the primaries; President Buhari is from the North, should another Northerner replace him? Doesn’t that affect inclusivity?

“If he is talking purely on a legal issue, no, that is not what we are saying; if we use the same moral compass to allow him to compete if we zoned the position, would he have emerged? It is not a fixated thing that can’t be fixed.

“We are not talking on a constitutional issue of Ayu resigning or not, what we are saying is that on a moral basis, resign as national chairman.”

But reacting to the development in the party, Ayu, who spoke through his Special Assistant (Media), Simon Imobo-Tswam implored Wike and his allies to return to the campaign council in the interest of peace.

He said, “How can Iyorchia Ayu step down? The PDP is governed by rules, laws, regulations and conventions. He came through the process of the law and he will leave through the process of the law.

‘’Ayu spoke when he campaigned for this office. He said if a candidate emerges from the North, and the party says he should resign, he will resign. Right now, has the party spoken? Yes. What did the party say? The party gave him a resounding vote of confidence.

“Our appeal is that the party has spoken and it was a vote for unity, a vote for togetherness and purpose. Let us give peace a chance so that we can fight the battle in front of us to displace APC from office.

“As the chairman has said, the confidence vote was not a personal victory. It was a victory for all. It is a win-win for the party. He has appealed that let party faithful focus on the big picture of 2023. It is an appeal that we come back on one page. If we lose this election, Nigerians will not be happy with PDP. Since the PDP left office, the country has been going downhill.’’

Calling for diplomacy to resolve the lingering crisis, Imobo-Tswam said, “We are still appealing. There is a phrase that says ‘What God cannot do, does not exist’ and we are saying ‘what diplomacy cannot achieve does not exist.’ That is what we are saying. Let them come back so that we can win the election. In an election year, you need everybody. That is our message.”

Makarfi preaches peace

A former governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi stressed the importance of collective efforts to build bridges and bring everyone on board for the task ahead.

Makarfi, a member of the PDP NEC, said: “I really wouldn’t want to make matters worse. Some of us have roles to play behind the scene to overcome any problem.”

Like Makarfi, the immediate past National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan tasked members to give peace a chance, adding that regardless of the challenges before the party, they are not insurmountable.

“No matter the level of disagreement, issues can and should be resolved within the party,” he told The PUNCH on Wednesday.

Also speaking, a chieftain of the party in the South-West, Mr. Diran Odeyemi, urged the PDP leaders and stakeholders to do everything possible to ensure that Wike does not leave the party.

“We can’t afford to see Governor Wike leave the PDP as that would be disastrous.  There is no need for this crisis if you ask me—those who truly love this party and who are the cause of this crisis know what to do.

“No sacrifice is too much for the party. They must put the party first and do the right thing and the right thing is equity, fairness and justice,” he noted.

Atiku, London agreement

Meanwhile, a top chieftain of the PDP, who was also present at the Wednesday meeting in Port Harcourt, alleged that the party’s presidential candidate failed to honour the promise he made to Wike and other aggrieved governors during their meeting in London recently.

Asked if he knew the decision taken by the aggrieved southern bloc of the PDP could mar the party’s chances in the 2023 presidential poll, the chieftain said, “Does the candidate himself show the willingness to win? Can you unify Nigeria without unifying the platform you want to use to unify Nigeria? Can you go to war with a divided house? The onus is on him. When they met in London, what did they agree on? And when he came back to the people, he decided to say he has constraints. Was it appropriate for his response to be heard through the media? Was it through the media that they conveyed their proposal to him?

He added, “I agree with him that, yes, he thinks it is time for Ayu to go. He wanted to find out the means and methods of implementing it immediately so that they can move ahead, but regrettably, he did not. As usual, he was with some party leaders in London, and then when he consulted the presidential council, he didn’t invite them to discuss the composition. This showed a total lack of respect for the group. So, the group said, okay, Ayu has lost the right to be an umpire. Therefore, it has nothing to do with making Wike the vice president or not making him vice president, even though he (Atiku) was the one who promised with his mouth to make him.”

The chieftain noted the southern bloc group would remain in the party to campaign for their governorship and National Assembly candidates.

“We are not leaving the party. We are committed PDP members and we will campaign for our party in the states of our various candidates. We will allow them to do their own presidential campaign councils and use their own platform to do their overall campaign and we will help them to use their political sagacity,” he added.

On his part, the media adviser to the former vice president, Paul Ibe said, “When your principal speaks, it is final but I will like to state here that there was no reason for them to do a volte-face.

Their decision is not in the national interest.”

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The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu is in the United Kingdom to rest ahead of the campaign season.

This was the comment of a member of the APC Presidential Campaign Council Ayo Oyalowo during his appearance on a television programme.

“The man, like I said, needed a few days off because the pressure on him is a bit too much and he needed to rest because the campaign is pretty long – we have about four, five months to campaign before the general election,” the APC chieftain said on Monday.

“So, he needs to ensure that he is not worn out by the show of love, and camaraderie – too many people coming to see him. So, yes, he needed to take that breather.”

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Presidential Candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

Five governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike have given the presidential candidate of the party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar conditions he must meet before they can support him in the 2023 general election.

A highly placed source told Daily Sun that the PDP standard bearer is seriously under pressure to succumb to their demands few days after the flag off of campaigns by political parties.

The governors in Wike’s camp include those of Enugu, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Benue, Samuel Ortom; Oyo, Seyi Makinde and Abia, Okezie Ikpeazu.

Daily Sun learnt that following a meeting by the governors at the weekend in Enugu, there is renewed tension among leaders of the PDP over the protracted crisis in the opposition party in the run-up to the 2023 general election.

Our source confirmed that the resolve of Wike’s group that the national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu must be replaced with a Southerner before they could participate in the PDP presidential campaign is unsettling a lot of party leaders.

He said that well meaning members of the party were mounting pressure on the PDP standard bearer to succumb to the demands of the G5 governors so the party does not prosecute next year’s election as a divided house.

This comes as the crisis rocking the opposition PDP over recent corruption-related accusations apper to have nosedived, as the national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu; national secretary, Samuel Anyanwu; and deputy national chairman, North, Umar Damagum have been given a 48-hour ultimatum to resign or face legal action.

The threat followed a resolution by the Forum of PDP candidates and aspirants, which passed a vote of no confidence in the three officers.

They’ve also petitioned the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party on the unanimous demand of candidates for the resignation the above-mentioned officers.

The candidates who gathered and held brainstorming session in Abuja, also alleged that the leadership of the party extorted several aspirants during the congresses, primaries and national convention of the party. It claimed after primaries, the leadership swapped the names of candidates with the names of persons who did not win.

They pointed out that these “underhand actions of the leadership of the party are largely responsible for the nullification by the courts of the governorship primaries in Zamfara State and all primaries held in Ogun State, while noting that many more are still pending in Court.”

Chris Ogbu, who presided over the session as the Forum Coordinator and House of Assembly Candidate, also read the communiqué. He was flanked by Dauda Yusuf, the Forum’s Secretary and former governorship aspirant as well as several other members.

He demanded Ayu, Anyanwu and Damagum step down immediately or sacked by the party within 48 hours or face legal action to force them from office which will commence on Wednesday.

The candidates/aspirants said that by Ayu allegedly sharing money paid as nomination forms instead of utilising it for the prosecution of the historic 2023 election of the party, was very provocative and indicting on the image of the party.

•Crisis’ll soon be over –Jibrin, ex-BoT cºhair

The immediate past chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of PDP, Senator Walid Jibrin has said the ongoing intra-party crisis in the party should be seen as a normal family matter, which would soon be resolved.

Jibrin, a Second Republic lawmaker however, advised members of the party not to see themselves as above the provisions of the Constitution of the party, adding that every member must respect and obey the Constitution.

In a statement, yesterday, Jibrin called on members of the party to put aside their political differences to work for the victory of the party in the forthcoming general elections.

“All organs of the party must therefore create oneness and greatest positions of the party. All our elders, leaders, youths and all women of the party must talk with one voice and must never create any division from now on, and within the NWC.

“It is important that PDP remains calm and strong; talk with one voice, and remain focused to follow the path and objectives of the party. And to make sure all the elections are won in 2023, especially winning of the Presidential Election, and encouraging, voting for Atiku Abubakar to become the President of Nigeria,” he said.

Meanwhile, a source close to the Wike camp told Daily Sun that the five governors at their Enugu meeting insisted that there is no going back on the sack of the national chairman as a condition for their participation in the PDP presidential election.

Also reacting to the development, a member of the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC), who is pro- Ayu told Daily Sun that Wike and his men are unrelenting in the demand that the national chairman must be replaced before they would support Atiku in next year’s elections.

The NEC member added that the former vice president has not said Ayu should not be replaced but that due process must be followed.

The Enugu meeting came on the heels of a meeting between Wike and the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in Abuja, last Thursday, where the former president reportedly appealed to the Rivers governor to reconsider his stance on contentious issues.

The five governors, as well as other notable leaders of the party have been on warpath with the PDP, in the aftermath of the nomination of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa as presidential and vice presidential candidates, respectively.

Repeated efforts to resolve the crisis have failed, with the Wike camp withdrawing from the PDP Presidential Campaign Council pending the removal of Ayu as national chairman.

Last week, five loyalists of the Rivers governor in the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) returned over N100 millon paid to them as housing allowance by the party leadership. A move, inside sources said is part of a grand plot to pile pressure on the national chairman to vacate office, ahead of the 2023 polls.

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike

All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, has cautioned South-West governors of the party to stop disrespecting them by hobnobbing with Governor Nyesom Wike.

Stakeholders of the party in the state gave the warning at a consultative meeting in the South-South zone in Port Harcourt, yesterday.

The party also urged its national leadership to prevail on the governors to desist from coming to the state, if not for the sake of solidarity.

Chairman of the party in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Sydney Nyeche, said: “Visiting Wike is an embarrassment to our effort in trying to reclaim the state.

“We find it disrespectful that while we are toiling for the party in the state, some group of governors from the West come to the state, go to Rumueprikom(Wike’s residence) and be negotiating with Nyesom Wike.

“The attention of the national chairman is drawn to this because we will not tolerate this anymore; we have had enough. We urge the National Working Committee of the party to warn these governors from the South West to desist from coming to the state to negotiate with the governor. This level of embarrassment we have suffered should stop.

“I cannot be threatened everyday because of my political leanings and somebody will come from the West to rubbish our efforts. If they cannot come to the state to show solidarity, they should stop coming to the state.”

Also, the state chairman of the party, Emeka Beke, berated the non-remittance of 25 percent of the funds generated from the sales of forms from candidates of the state during the party primaries to strengthen the party.

Beke demanded support from the party’s national leadership, stressing that the state chapter would reciprocate in the same manner it is being treated.

“Please, we urge the National Chairman that Rivers State bought forms worth over N1 billion and we are requesting that they should remit to the state 25 percent generated through the sale of the forms.”

Convener of the meeting, the Vice Chairman, South-South zone of APC, Victor Giadom,  said the essence of the meeting was to understand clearly the challenges of the party in the state and areas to improve on.

Meanwhile, some youths in Niger State have warned former Minister for Information and member of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Board of Trustee (BoT), Prof. Jerry Gana to distance himself from River State Governor, Nyesom Wike and his group or face their wrath.

The youths under the auspices of “Concern Citizen of Niger state” in collaboration with Arewa Youths Council, Niger State chapter, in a letter signed by its coordinator, Alfa Nma, to Gana’s son, threatening to scuttle his ambition for the Lavun/Mokwa/Edati Federal Constituency seat if the older Gana continued his alliance with Wike.

“We wish to notify you about the activities of your father, Prof. Jerry Gana, over his unpalatable move towards our great party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, which is capable of affecting our chances in the 2023 general elections.

“We have observed with dismay how Wike and his group have continued their rebellion against the party and its presidential candidate despite several appeals and peace efforts from well-meaning party stakeholders. The activities of the professor has become worrisome to many of our supporters within the state and we implore you to call your father to order before it’s too late. The failure to do that within 24 hours means we would have no other option than to mobilise all our support groups in Niger State to work against your election,” the group said.

All attempts to get the reaction of the candidate, Joshua Gana, over the threat letter, failed as he promised to get back to our correspondent after several calls and text message but never did.

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