News

November 27, 2022

PDP CRISIS: In new twist, G5 Govs may shun Adeleke’s ‘Big Day’ in Osun

By John Alechenu, Abuja

Barring any last-minute change, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, will lead the party’s delegation to today (Sunday)’s inauguration of Sen. Ademola Adeleke as governor of Osun State.

But same cannot be said of the G5 Governors under the leadership of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.

The fact that the governors may stay away from the event provides a new twist to the PDP crisis which started immediately after the party’s presidential primary that saw Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who emerged the winner beating Wike to the second position.

Traditionally, governors of the party of a governor-elect being inaugurated had always added flavour to the swearing-in with their attendance since off-season elections began in the polity.

It was gathered that the five PDP governors, namely Wike, Samuel Ortom (Benue), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Ifeanyi Igwuanyi (Enugu), had yet to make arrangements to attend today’s event in Osogbo, the state capital as of Friday night.

The five governors had vowed to steer clear of the party’s presidential campaign activities until the National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, resigns from office for a southerner to take over. 

Ayu’s Special Adviser (Media and Communications ), Simon Imobo-Tswam, confirmed plans by the National Chairman to attend the epoch-making event.

When asked if his principal would be attending the event, Imobo-Tswam told Sunday Vanguard: “He will be there by God’s grace.”

It was also gathered that a sizable number of members of the party leadership also confirmed their availability to attend.

However, the same cannot be said of the five aggrieved governors. They have stuck to their guns by staying away from party events where Ayu is expected to play any role, no

matter how small.

Misinterpretation

A source close to the G5 Governors told Sunday Vanguard it was unlikely that any of the governors would attend.

The source, who spoke in confidence for fear of retribution, said, “It is unlikely that any of them will attend.

“They have absolutely nothing against the brand new governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke, because he is joining their ranks as governor but the concerns of the G5 Governors are yet to be addressed by the party leadership.

“Their thinking is that appearing in public events of any nature with the Ayu-led PDP NWC can be misinterpreted to mean they have buckled.

“Recall that Governor Makinde who was appointed DG of the National Campaign Council for the Osun PDP governorship election, was unavailable during the campaigns.”

The Chief Press Secretary to the Oyo governor, Taiwo Adisa, had, at that time, explained the absence  of his principal.

He said it was mischievous for anyone to read meaning into his bosses absence from the campaign flag-off. 

According to him, Makinde, had prior engagements outside Nigeria which unfortunately coincided with the flag off.

Adisa further explained that his principal made up for his absence by sending a powerful delegation as well  as making adequate arrangements for logistics including VIP movement to and from the venue.

With respect to today (Sunday’s) inauguration, however, neither Adisa nor his colleague in  Benue State, Nathaniel Ikyur, could confirm if their principals would be in attendance.

When contacted, on Friday,  Ikyur explained that his principal was on his way back home from Port-Harcourt.

He said, “Until he arrives I can’t confirm whether or not he will be attending.”

On his part, Adisa said he was yet to be briefed.

However, none of the G5 Governors has attended any PDP event where Ayu was in attendance since they launched their attack on Ayu’s continued stay in office after the party’s presidential primary. 

Recall that Wike and his four aggrieved colleagues were further miffed by the decision of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku , to pick Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as running mate.

Roots of crisis 

The G5 Governors crisis in the PDP has its roots in the party’s presidential primary.

At the primary, held on May 28-29, 2022, Atiku polled 371 votes to defeat his main challenger, Wike, who polled 237. Former Senate President Bukola Saraki scored 70 votes to come third.

Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State came fourth with 38 votes while Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi finish fifth with 20 votes.

Hours after results were announced, Atiku and the National Chairman of the party, Ayu, visited Governor Aminu Tambuwual of Sokoto State who had earlier stepped down from the presidential race to declare support for Atiku.

Ayu was captured on camera as describing Tambuwal as the “hero of the convention,” for stepping down for Atiku. His comments did not go unnoticed by Wike’s supporters.

Ayu had, while campaigning for election as PDP National Chairman, said should a northerner emerge as party candidate, he was prepared to resign his position if the party asked him to do so. His position was hinged on the PDP tradition of zoning of elective offices.

After losing out of the race for the party’s ticket, Wike and four of his fellow governors, now referred to as the G5 Governors, set their eyes on the vice presidential slot, which they had hoped would go to the Rivers governor.

Although the choice of the running mate is at the discretion of the candidate, Atiku, in consultation with party stakeholders, set up a screening committee which received nominations,  screened and recommended three governors, namely Wike (Rivers), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom).

The candidate picked Okowa. This threw up a fresh dispute as Wike’s supporters decried what they described as his unfair treatment.

Sack

Pro-Wike governors began a campaign for Ayu’s sack alleging that he wasn’t even-handed in his handling of party affairs.

They demanded Ayu’s resignation as precondition for their support for Atiku’s presidential campaign.

 In the midst of all these, the PDP National Executive Committee met and passed a vote of confidence on the Ayu-led National Working Committee.

Wike and his colleagues would have none of it, they descried the preponderance of northerners in party leadership positions to the exclusion of southerners.

At the time, Atiku, the presidential candidate, is from the North-East, the party’s National Chairman, Ayu, hails from the North-Central, the Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Sen. Walid Jibrin, is also from the North Central.

The Chairman of the PDP governors Forum, Aminu Tambuwual, hails from Sokoto in Nigeria’s North West, he was later appointed the Director General of the Presidential Campaign.

In a bid to assuage the G5, the party leadership prevailed on the BoT Chairman, Jibrin, to resign which he did for the BoT Secretary, Sen. Adolphus Wagbara, from the South-East to act in his place.

This did not however appease the G5 Governors who insist on Ayu’s resignation as the only condition for peace.

Atiku has, in the meantime, told those who care to listen that he does not have the powers to force Ayu to resign, arguing that asking him to do so with a few months to the crucial 2023 elections should know the action would adversely affect the party. But if the party’s Constitution is to be strictly applied, Ayu’s resignation will throw up another challenge because the Deputy National Chairman North, Umar Damagun, who hails from the North-East just like Atiku, is next in line. As things stand, there is a stalemate as none of the feuding parties has shown any sign of backing down.