By Adeleye Kunle
As the search for peace within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) continues, the party’s National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, has now made a condition for his resignation if stakeholders are adamant about his departure.
He claims that because the PDP Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is from the North, all members of the National Working Committee (NWC) from the South must swap places with those from the North.
Many party leaders, however, have rejected Ayu’s proposal, fearing that their candidates in the NWC will lose their positions and influence.
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike is one of those who stand to lose if Ayu’s proposal to swap positions is accepted.
Senator Samuel Anyawu of the South East zone is his ally and the PDP National Secretary, in charge of the party’s national secretariat.
According to The Nation, some party leaders have begun to make a U-turn in order to persuade Wike and some governors to allow Ayu to remain in office until the 2023 presidential election.
According to sources, the party is also tense over an alleged plan by some leaders to appoint Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation.
Tambuwal stepped down for Atiku during the party’s presidential primary, and he is expected to become Senate President if Atiku is elected.
According to party sources, appointing Tambuwal, a northerner, as the campaign organization’s DG at a time when some southerners are already complaining about the north’s annexation of the party’s chairmanship, BoT chairmanship, presidential candidate, and positions of team chief spokespersons would be detrimental to the PDP.
Although some leaders proposed Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde as DG, there were concerns that combining his own campaign for a second term with running the presidential campaign team would be too much for him.
Some PDP chieftains were said to support Wike as the Presidential Campaign Council DG in order to “heal wounds” in the party.
Our investigation revealed that the delay in forming the PDP Campaign Council is due to the crisis of confidence between Atiku and Wike, the fate of Ayu and other NWC officers, the choice of DG, and the need for ethno-religious balance in the PDP.
It was also learned that these issues influenced the Board of Trustees’ decision to persuade Atiku and Wike to join forces in Abuja on Wednesday and Thursday.
During a meeting with the Board of Trustees on Wednesday, Ayu stated that he was willing to make any sacrifice to ensure the party’s success in the 2023 elections.
“He told us that he was ready to step aside, but he should not be isolated,” said a member of the BOT who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“He stated that because the presidential candidate is from the North, Northern officers in the NWC should swap positions with their Southern counterparts to ensure equity, fairness, and justice.
“This is why some of our leaders argue that Ayu can only step down if Atiku is elected President.”
“Some of us believe Ayu should stay in office until after the elections.”
“There are concerns that Ayu will not resign if Atiku loses the presidential election.” This is another possibility.
“We don’t want another crisis within the party.” If the NWC’s roles are reversed, some of our leaders, including Wike, will suffer.
“The governor of Rivers State produced the party’s National Secretary and a few others on his own.” It means Wike will be further marginalized in the PDP power equation.”
Another BOT member stated, “We did not want any further split in the party over Ayu because it was obvious to us that if he is removed, the PDP will never be the same again.”
“We agreed to allow Ayu to stay in office until after the elections.”
“Some BOT members suggested that we pass a tactical vote of confidence in Ayu, which we did when some of our leaders addressed the press.”
“We are counting on Atiku and Wike to save the party’s fragile situation because they hold the aces.”
According to reports, Atiku and Wike agreed to form separate teams to meet and work out their differences.
It was also revealed that the main tenets of their discussions were inclusion, equity, fairness, and justice for all, particularly the South.
However, while Atiku demanded that Wike submit his list on the spot, the governor refused.
“Wike told Atiku that he will want to consult his strategists before unveiling his nominees for peace and reconciliation talks,” another source added.
“Wike is still consulting with his strategists on the party’s next steps.”
Push for Tambuwal as campaign director raises new concerns
Party leaders are concerned that Governor Tambuwal’s appointment as Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council will backfire.
Some party members believe that Seyi Makinde or Wike are better suited to “heal wounds” in the party.
Those who opposed Wike cited the party’s experience with him during the 2019 presidential campaign.
“We have a feeling that Atiku is overindulging Tambuwal when it is obvious that votes from Sokoto State cannot make him President of Nigeria,” a source said. The same man wants to be President of the Senate in 2023.
“Some leaders have asked Atiku to consider Makinde, Wike, or any other second-term governor from Wike’s camp.” We believe Makinde, a first-term governor, will be unable to handle the demands of two campaigns in 2023. We risk losing Oyo State.”
Another campaign committee member stated, “Contrary to what Wike was saying, there was more to his involvement in financing the party’s campaign in 2019.” I am astounded that our leaders are remaining silent.
“It is true that he contributed financially to the campaign through a former Senate President. However, rather than allowing the PDP National Secretariat to handle his assistance, Wike insisted on appointing a barrister to oversee the distribution of funds.
“What he gave was never seen by the National Financial Secretary or Treasurer.” There was no direct funding provided to the party or Atiku for the 2019 elections.
“Prince Uche Secondus, our former National Chairman, is still alive.” He should talk about his experience. Wike is a wise and astute politician who knows how to trim party officers to size, especially when money is at stake.”
The meeting on Thursday was the first between Atiku and Wike since the PDP presidential candidate passed over the Rivers Governor in favor of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate.
Atiku stated that his decision was influenced by the realization that he needed a deputy with whom he could work amicably.
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