Ayu, embattled PDP Chairman
By John Alechenu, Abuja
The decision of the National Working Committee, NEC, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to comply with a court order restraining Dr. Iyorchia Ayu from parading himself as national chairman, has opened up a new frontier as leaders commence a fresh scramble for the soul of the party.
Sunday Vanguard gathered in Abuja that the decision to let Ayu step aside for the Deputy National Chairman (North), Ambassador Umar Illiya Damagun, to take his place did not go down well with the embattled chairman’s camp.
Those sympathetic to Ayu, it was learnt, wished the NWC tarried a while since he had indicated an interest to go to court to vacate the order.
A member of the party’s National Working Committee, NWC, who pleaded for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the issue said: “The party is moving on. While we wait to see if Ayu will seek and get the court to vacate the order against him, we triggered the relevant clauses in our constitution to enable the next in line step in.
“Most will not be aware, the decision to suspend some of our leaders like former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, ex-governors Ayo Fayose and Ibrahim Shema among others was a product of Ayu’s veto powers.
“When he brought up the issue of wielding the big stick during that meeting, most of us opposed it because we felt this was the time for healing and since we are still challenging the Presidential election results in court, it will be better not to start another crisis. However, our Organizing Secretary and one other member urged him on. Here we are.
“The decision to reverse the suspensions which was our first major decision since Damagun took over is part of our original plan to reach out to all aggrieved members in order to start our rebuilding process.”
Another party leader who equally preferred anonymity said, “We will be in Abuja for Tuesday’s NEC meeting where we expect far-reaching decisions will be taken to reposition our party. We still have off-season elections in Kogi and Bayelsa as well as our court matter to contend with, we need everyone on board.”
Although the agenda for the NEC meeting is still shrouded in secrecy, party insiders say the body is likely to decide on Ayu’s replacement, the setting up of a committee to look into the immediate and remote causes of the party’s loss of grounds, especially in its traditional strongholds across the nation and other issues relating to moving the party forward.
It was also learnt that former Benue State governor, Gabriel Suswam, who also lost his bid to return to the Senate, has started consulting to position himself for the position of National Chairman.
This, according to those familiar with the matter, is based on the calculation that party leaders could decide that the North Central produce a replacement to serve out the rest of Ayu’s tenure in the event he doesn’t return.
Fayose demands apology
In a surprise move, former Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, has threatened to sue the party for defamation over his suspension which has since been rescinded.
In a letter written to the party by Fayose’s legal representative, Akinwale Kol-Taiwo, Fayose said the contents of both the Press Release issued by the party suspending him and the other rescinding same were libellous and defamatory.
He further argued that the actions taken against him did not follow the laid down procedures contained in the PDP Constitution.
The letter read: “We act as solicitors to AYODELE FAYOSE (EKITI STATE GOVERNOR 2003-2006 & 2014 – 2018) hereinafter referred to as “our client” on whose instruction, we write in respect of the above subject matter.
“We are informed by our client that on 23rd March 2023, the Peoples Democratic Party made a libellous press release issued through the office of the National Publicity Secretary of the party on the official page of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, as well as published and read on various media platforms; wherein it was published that our client among other party leaders, has been suspended from the PDP without any reason.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the exact libellous and defamatory allegation with intent to be believed and relied upon against our client as published on 23rd March 2023 is as follows:
“The NWC of the PDP has after a very extensive review of the affairs of our party in the country and pursuant to the provision of the PDP constitution (as amended in 2017)…
“The NWC also approved the suspension of the following from the party with effect from today, Thursday, March 23, 2023…”
In a related development, the South-South Zone of the party has hailed the NWC over its handling of the Ayu suspension saga and the appointment of Ambassador Damagun as acting chairman.
The zone under the leadership of the National Vice Chairman, Chief Dan Orbi, said this after a well-attended Zonal Working Committee meeting at the Zonal Headquarters of the Party in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Friday. This was contained in a communique signed by the PDP Zonal Publicity Secretary, Bishop Etim Ante.
He said, ” The following resolutions were reached: We congratulate all our newly elected Governors, Senators, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly Members in the South-South.
“The Zone appreciates the commendable efforts of all our party leaders, stakeholders and the entire party faithful for winning many of the contested seats for the party in the just concluded elections, and resolved to set up a committee to appraise and review the performance and outcome of the just concluded general elections across the south-south states.
“We commend the National working committee for its wise handling of Dr. Ayu’s suspension saga and the subsequent assumption of the office by the Deputy National Chairman, North, Alhaji Iliya Umar in an acting capacity.
“We support the NWC decision to reverse the earlier decision suspending prominent leaders and members without due process. The zone calls for an amicable resolution of all lingering crises bedevilling the party.
“The zone recommends the setting up of a Truth and Reconciliation Committee to achieve lasting peace and unity for the progress and growth of the party.”
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