By Dapo Akinrefon, Luminous Jannamike & John Alechenu, Abuja
THE crisis in Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, persisted yesterday as leading figures in the Governor Nyesom Wike Presidential Campaign Council, who are members of the Board of Trustees of the party, were noticeably absent from the board’s meeting.
The Board of Trustees, BoT, of the party had scheduled the meeting to resolve issues thrown up by the party’s recent convention which threw up Abubakar Atiku as the presidential candidate, with Wike coming second.
This came on a day young members of the party stormed its national secretariat, Abuja, in protest over the 2023 governorship ticket in Delta State, and asked the national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, to resign.
Those who weren’t sighted during the meeting held at the National Executive Council Hall at PDP National Secretariat include: Governor Nyesom Wike, Prof. Jerry Gana, and Senator Zainab Kure.
Although details of the meeting held behind closed doors were shrouded in secrecy at press time, it was gathered that the crisis of confidence between the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, featured prominently.
A source privy to what transpired behind closed-doors, who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity so as not to “further inflame passions,” said: “After taking stock of what transpired during and after our national convention and the choice of running mate, we all agreed we have a problem.
“We cannot deny the fact that we need most, if not all of our party members on board but the question is at what cost?
There were those who raised issues with the party’s current leadership structure which has been one of the bone of contention of Wike and his group.
“As things stand today, our national chairman, chairman of the Board of Trustees and, of course, our presidential candidate are all northerners.
“We need to balance our sense of history with fairness in order not to give our opponents talking points during the campaigns.
On the other hand, Atiku’s supporters, in response to the demand in some quarters that Ayu should step down, argue that it would be a harmful strategy to remove the chairman with barely six or seven months to the 2023 elections because Ayu himself knows he must leave without being asked to do so as soon as we win. These are the issues we are dealing with.
“We agreed to set up a committee involving all our (BoT) members to first go and meet the former Vice President who is our candidate for the 2023 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar. This decision to go to him first is in recognition of the order of protocol.
We will then go and meet with Governor Wile to hear from him, beg him if we need to, although some members are not in agreement but we need peace to return for us to move forward. These issues must be thrashed out before we can set up our campaign council.
After the meeting, Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi spoke to reporters, admitting that the BoT members discussed how to resolve the feud between Atiku and Wike but dismissed calls for the sack of the national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, as speculation which was not discussed at the meeting.“
He said: “We discussed the crisis between our presidential candidate and Governor Nyesom Wike.“
“In getting it resolved, we set up a committee of the whole to urgently interface with the two of them.“
” We have set up in this meeting committee of the BoT to be able to interface between warring factions, particularly the acrimony that is taking place between the presidential candidate and Governor Wike and any other conflict that is taking place in the nation within our party formation.
“It is the committee of the whole, that means every other BoT member is a member of the committee. I cannot tell you the grievances and the time frame.
Asked if the vexed issue of a demand by Wike’s supporters that Ayu should step down as a precondition for peace was discussed, Ningi said: ” We have not even discussed any issue of anybody stepping down. We discussed what I told you.“
Ayu, BoT chairman engage in shouting match – SOURCE
However, s source, privy to the meeting told Vanguard that the BoT and NWC’s meeting was rancorous as the PDP chairman and BoT chairman engaged in a shouting match over the latter’s argument that Ayu does not recognize them in the party.
The source, who spoke in confidence, said the crisis rocking the PDP, might linger over Wike’s demands.
The source said: “I am aware of the meeting held today and the meeting was more of a shouting match between Ayu and members of the BoT.
When the meeting started, the BoT chairman complained to Ayu that since his assumption of office, this was the fourth BoT meeting he (Ayu) attended and that he (Ayu) does not see them (BoT) as part and parcel of the party and that he (Ayu) underrates them whereas, they (BoT) have constitutional roles to play.
Ayu’s response at the meeting infuriated the BoT members because he said it was not important for him to sit with them (BoT members) for any meeting.
“At the end of the day, they had to calm frayed nerves. As far as I am concerned, there may be no resolution to the crisis.
“The PDP crisis may fester because Atiku may not want to meet Wike’s demands. Ayu is not ready to step down.
“Infact, Ayu told BoT members today (yesterday) that he won’t step down because there is constitutional provision for him to spend four years as chairman of the party.
“Ayu argued that the idea of him resigning may affect the party’s chances and he may end up going to court if he is forced to step down.”
We‘ve met with Atiku, we’ll soon meet Wike -PDP BOT CHAIRMAN
Reacting to the development yesterday, Chairman of the PDP BoT , Senator Walid in a telephone chat with the Vanguard, explained that there was nothing usual about the absence of some members from the meeting.“According to him, while some had prior engagements, others are currently out of the country.“Jibrin said: “Some of our members are outside the country, some are indisposed, for example, the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwyany, called me on the telephone and sent his apologies.“
“Our meeting today was very successful. After we set up our committee, we immediately went to meet with our presidential candidate, Atiku . He welcomed us and was eager to resolve all outstanding issues.
He is also putting up his own committee to meet with us and together we will meet with Wike and others. We are making progress by God’s grace.”
Delta 2023: Protesters storm PDP secretariat, ask Ayu to resign
Meanwhile, disturbed by the ongoing crisis in the party over its 2023 governorship ticket in Delta State, young members of the party, yesterday, stormed the national secretariat of PDP to demand the resignation of its National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu.
The party supporters, acting under the aegis of Concerned Deltans for Good Governance, were at the Wadata Plaza, to register their displeasure over what they described as the refusal of the party chairman to obey an order of a Federal High Court ruling that disqualified Sheriff Oborevwori as PDP’s standard bearer in next year’s governorship election in Delta State.
It will be recalled that the court order delivered by Justice Taiwo Taiwo declared Olorogun David Edevbie as the lawfully nominated and authentic candidate of the party.
It also directed the PDP to forward Edevbie’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in addition to ordering INEC to accord him the full rights and privileges due him as the rightful candidate of the party.
However, most of the protesters, who trooped out en masse to demand the party’s compliance with Justice Taiwo’s ruling, carried placards with inscriptions, such as “Ayu lacks integrity to push PDP to victory,” “Obey the Abuja FHC judgment,” “BoT help Delta PDP before NWC kills the party,” among others.
Addressing reporters during the protest, the leader of the group, Chris Anthony, accused Ayu of leading the party towards destruction.
He said: “There’s a burning issue in Delta State, and it’s about who is the rightful candidate of the PDP in the state.
“Everyone knows that PDP in Delta is the majority party, but with the action of the national chairman of the party, we are beginning to be convinced that Ayu is a mole in the party to trade the fortunes of the party to the opposition.
“We have seen Ayu not just as a mole, but also as an actor playing the script written by the opposition to actualise the emergence of an APC governor in Delta State.
“Ayu lacks the capacity to lead the PDP and so should honourably resign, because he has demonstrated gross incompetence in handling the affairs of the party. He should resign. Ayu should resign, because he cannot manage the affairs of the party well.
“We are talking about defending the democracy that thrives on the rule of law, but Ayu has willfully refused to obey a simple court judgment.”