…Atiku having sleepless nights over Wike’s demands; interests around ex-VP not disposed to requests
…Ayu may resist stepping down—PDP source
By Dapo Akinrefon, John Alechenu & Davies Iheamnachor, LAGOS
Indications emerged last night that presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar may have driven into a political cul-de-sac over conditions listed by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and National Chairman of the party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu’s stance who, it was learnt, may not step down from his office.
Vanguard also learnt that even if Ayu steps down, his position will be taken over by another person from the same Northern region.
The PDP constitution, according to a source familiar with the workings of the party, states that once a national chairman is resigning his office, he must be succeeded by a new candidate from the same geopolitical zone.
With this, the signs that the crisis
rocking the PDP, may not abate soon, as Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is said to be having sleepless nights over the conditions given by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
Part of the agreement, it was learned, was that Senator Ayu should be given a dignified exit and accommodated in the new PDP government when it is formed.
The Wike Camp equally extracted a commitment from Atiku to be allowed to produce Ayu’s replacement and that the candidate should be from the South West Zone.
It was gathered that several agreements were arrived at after the face-to-face meeting between Atiku and Wike in London.
The PDP presidential candidate and Governor Wike have been engaged in a feud but met last week to reconcile their differences in London.
Following calls for his resignation, there are strong indications that the national chairman may resist the call.
Ayu may resist stepping down—PDP source
Giving insight into the crisis within the party yesterday, a former member of the National Working Committee, NWC, told Vanguard in confidence that Ayu has reiterated his resolve not to step down.
The PDP leader, who spoke under anonymity, said though the PDP presidential candidate might consider Wike’s request, Ayu would not step down.
The source said: “Atiku may consider Wike’s demands that Ayu should step down but Ayu will resist the move for his resignation. He argues that he cannot assist Atiku and Okowa to become the presidential candidate and the running mate and then, they cannot stand by him.
He is insisting that he cannot be the sacrificial lamb.
‘’This is a dilemma for them. Ayu is insisting that Atiku and the PDP damn Wike on calls for his (Ayu’s) resignation and if he does not resign at the end of the day, the Wike camp will take its next step as regards their political future.”
Ayu not appointed, but elected—Ally
Attempts to get a response from the party’s national chairman were unsuccessful as a call to his Media Aide, Simon Imobo-Tswam, was neither picked nor returned.
However, an associate of the national chairman, who did not want his name in print because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said: “We are not bothered by speculations about Ayu’s fate.
“The PDP is a democratic institution and we follow due process, bear this in mind, Ayu was not appointed, he was elected.
“Our presidential candidate and lovers of this great party will not bow to pressure wherever it is coming from to throw our party into another crisis.
“We should be talking about our campaign council and how to get this rudderless APC out of power instead of this needless distractions.”
Atiku in dilemma over Wike’s request
An ally of the former Vice President told Vanguard that though the PDP presidential candidate might consider Wike’s request, his loyalists were not disposed to it, saying the governor was taking it too far.
He said: “There are a lot of interests around the principal who do not accept Wike’s demands. These interests around Atiku feel that such request is not coming in good faith and they believe that it is dangerous, risky and dicey to tinker with the current formation of the party and the NWC just a few weeks to the general campaign.”
Asked whether Atiku was disposed to Wike’s demands, the source said: “Anything that will make the party united is what he (Atiku) will go for but on Wike’s request, I will say he (Atiku) is in a dilemma between those interests and what Wike is asking for.
“Let’s be honest with ourselves, what Wike is asking for is extreme because a lot of these candidates you are talking about, the Ayu executive brought them in and you cannot now say you want to trade them off.
‘’You know, such precedence in politics is risky because what it means is that next time; it gives their candidate the identity of a personality who is not reliable and who can sacrifice anything for his interest. So, a lot of things are attached to it but I do not see it scaling through.”
Why Wike should support Obi, shun Atiku, Tinubu – Rivers Non-indigenes
Meanwhile, the Non-Indigenes Association in Rivers State, yesterday, urged Governor Wike to shun the candidates of the PDP and that of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Tinubu, but give backing to the candidacy of Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP.
The Non-Indigenes stated that their resolve was informed by the antecedents of Mr Obi as governor of Anambra State, adding that he had better plans to reposition the country.
Addressing newsmen in Port Harcourt, chairman of the association, Chief Felix Ogbegbor, noted that among the three candidates fielded by the APC, PDP, and LP, Peter Obi stood as the best of all.
He said: “I think Peter Obi is the best person that Wike should support. Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu don’t have anything to offer.
“If you look at it, Atiku, when he was the Vice President, was busy buying Nigeria. Tinubu is out of the race because he bought the whole of Lagos as a governor.
“If Atiku and Tinubu cannot step down, Wike should support Peter Obi. We don’t need an elderly person in that office again. The others are above 70 and we don’t need them. If Wike supports Obi, we will be right behind him.”
While passing a vote of confidence on Governor Wike, he noted that the governor had delivered meaningful projects to the people of Rivers State.
He said: “The governor of Rivers State is a pride to the people. Wike has all it takes to be Nigeria’s president. We are here to support a young man who knows what it takes to please his people.
“For the past seven years, we have not seen the kind of development Wike is driving in Rivers. He always attracts good things to Rivers State.
“He is not doing it because of himself but for the state. We have decided to follow him. Whatever he says we should do is what we will do. What person he wants to vote we will vote, anywhere he goes we will go.”