•Presidential candidate wrongly reconciling with Wike, others through third party – BoT member
•‘Party Chair must go now’
•Says won’t be surprised if ex-Ekiti gov joins APC
By Dapo Akinrefon
The crisis in the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which escalated last week after the presidential candidate of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, was accused of not doing enough to pacify members aggrieved over the choice of his vice presidential candidate, is not about to thaw, Sunday Vanguard understands.
Some top leaders at the weekend blamed Atiku for reaching out to the aggrieved members by proxy rather than doing it directly.
Some elements in the party had also asked the National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, last week, to quit his position immediately in the spirit of balancing following the emergence of the PDP presidential candidate from the North where he hails from.
Meanwhile, a former governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayo Fayose, who issued a critical statement against Atiku, last week, saying the PDP presidential candidate was undeserving of his support because his emergence violated zoning of the presidency to the South in 2023, himself came under attack.
Some leaders of the opposition party said they won’t be surprised if he defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), the ruling party at the federal level.
There have been tensions in the PDP since Atiku nominated Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as his running mate ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
The presidential candidate’s decision had run contrary to the thinking in many circles in the opposition party that the right choice should have been Governor Nyesom Wike who finished second in the PDP presidential primary.
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State echoed the sentiment, last week, when he said the party’s committee which looked into the issue of vice presidential candidate recommended Wike over Okowa to Atiku.
According to Ortom, of the three persons the committee nominated as vice presidential candidate – Wike, Okowa and Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State – the Rivers governor topped the list.
He said out of the 17 members of the committee, 14 voted in Wike’s favour, noting, however, that the choice of running mate rested with the presidential candidate.
In apparent response to the tempest, Atiku, last week, vowed to address the infighting within the party.
Multiple sources in the PDP told Sunday Vanguard at the weekend that senior party leaders had launched an effort to restore peace within to save the party from imploding ahead of the 2023 general elections but blamed the presidential candidate for not doing enough to reach out. One of the sources, a member of the PDP Board of Trustees, BoT, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard in confidence, noted that Atiku reconciliation should not have been done by a third party.
Another stalwart, who expressed concern over the crack within the fold, blamed the party’s candidate for failing to address the murmurings within the PDP fold.
The party leader insisted that the National Chairman of the party, Ayu, must resign his position before the campaigns start.
The BoT member of the PDP told Sunday Vanguard: “As we know, the agitation for power shift has closed and what happened at the convention was a disaster.
“Having said that, it is now the responsibility of the new leader of the party to take the gauntlet and lead the move for reconciliation. “Reconciliation should not be done through a third party. That is why some of us who love the party have been meeting and calling for calm.
“All the vituperations they are firing up and down in anger will not help the party. We are not yet in the Villa, we are still in the opposition and that is why he (Atiku) should take the gauntlet and lead the team for serious reconciliation”.
‘Ayu should pack his things and go’
While admitting that some party leaders are not carried along in the current scheme of things in the PDP, he insisted that the party Chairman, Ayu, must step aside for peace to reign.
The BoT member said: “Ayu should not lead this reconciliation. Ayu, as a person, should leave because once the presidential candidate emerged from one side of the country, the Chairman must come from the other zone.
“Ayu should pack his things and go. He should not say he will go it after the 2023 elections. For him to say that he will go after elections shows he is rubbing salt upon injury.
“How does he want to go to the South and campaign? What are we going to tell the people of the South? The candidate is from the North, the Chairman is also from the North while the BoT Chairman is from the North. Has that ever been the face of the party? Why are they struggling to destroy the party?
“Everybody must be carried along because the PDP is not the private company of anybody. We need to sit and solve the problems of this country.”
Proffering a way out of the quagmire, he said: “So, the solution is for the PDP to go back to the drawing board because once a candidate has emerged, he should lead the reconciliation team and move as fast as possible before the campaign starts to reconcile, otherwise, it is to your tents oh Israel.”
The BoT member of the PDP lampooned Fayose who accused of working against the interest of the party.
He said: “See what Fayose has done. He said because the presidential candidate did not come from the South, he is now shifting grounds. He is unreliable. Was he not a member of the zoning review committee? Who is he deceiving? I won’t be surprised if he decides to join the APC.”