• BoT Chairmanship: Walid steps out, Wabara steps in to placate South
• I’m not aware about Makinde’s replacement of Tambuwal as PDP Governors’ Forum chair, says party spokesman
• Oyo PDP happy with emergence of Makinde as chair of party Governors’ Forum
• Wike vows to sustain fight until Ayu exits office
• Says BoT chairman’s resignation a distraction, charade
• Atiku wants crisis resolved within party’s constitution
• You cannot destroy Rivers APC, Eze tells Wike
After weeks of splitting hairs in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by gladiators and loyalists of two camps – Atiku Abubakar and Governor Nyesom Wike’s – the major opposition party, yesterday, ended its 97th National Executive Committee (NEC) in Abuja, with a successful troubleshooting exercise.
Party stakeholders arose from the make or mar meeting with some far-reaching decisions aimed at dousing the tension that had gripped the party since it concluded its convention in May.
First, the NEC passed a vote of confidence on its national chairman that had been in the eye of the storm, Iyorchia Ayu, as well as the National Working Committee (NWC), putting to rest the clamour for Ayu’s resignation by some aggrieved party members.
Second, chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Jibrin Walid, at an earlier meeting of the board, resigned his position to pave way for the emergence of the BoT secretary, Senator Adolphus Wabara, to become the acting chairman.
Third, Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, emerged as the new chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum minutes after the former chairman, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State resigned from the position.
But national publicity secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, denied reports that Tambuwal resigned his position as chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, stating that no such development took place at the meeting.
The communiqué read by Ologunagba stated that NEC approved the structure and organogram of its presidential campaign council for the 2023 presidential election. However, the membership of the council is yet to be constituted.
“NEC approved a unified campaign structure across the country for the 2023 general elections, which will focus more on the grassroots,” he said, with no reference to Makinde contained in the communiqué.
The meeting was poorly attended by governors as only four were at the meeting. They were Tambuwal, Darius Ishaku of Taraba, Douye Diri of Bayelsa and Bala Mohammed of Bauchi.
At the meeting, members expressed worries about the crisis, but encouraged the party to take further steps in addressing the issues.
Atiku, however, cautioned that all efforts at resolving the issues must be within the Constitution and rules of the party.
He said: “Many speakers have alluded to family disagreements, which are normal in families as well as political families. But what I can assure you is that we are determined to resolve those issues internally.
“As a political party we have our Constitution, our rules and regulations. I want to urge that no matter the level of disagreement, it should be resolved within our rules.”
In a comment while resigning as BoT chairman, Walid said his action was to help the party and Atiku win the 2023 election.
“All we want to achieve is that Atiku becomes the president of Nigeria by all means; that is why I decided to step down from the BoT. And I discussed this with the candidate and he agreed with me. If the party wins, I will be given a bigger position,” he said.
Wabara cautioned against reckless statements by members, especially during this crisis. He said the PDP has an inbuilt mechanism to solve problems.
“I want to advise us that we should always de-brief ourselves in-house no matter what the anger is, rather than playing to the gallery. We should watch and control our utterances, because by and large, only God knows tomorrow.”
A total of 397 NEC members, including past national chairmen of the party, immediate past vice president of the country, Namadi Sambo; PDP presidential candidate, Atiku, among others attended. All the 397 NEC members present voted in support of Ayu to continue as chairman of the party.
In his remarks, Ayu commended Walid for sacrificing his position as BoT chairman for the progress of the party. He ordered that a standing ovation be observed in Walid’s honour, which was promptly done.
He expressed delight at the attendance recorded by the meeting saying that whatever impression anybody may have, the party is making progress.
HOWEVER, the Rivers governor, Wike, has vowed to sustain the fight for the return of a healthy party structure that will allow an even representation of the interest of the North and South in the national leadership of the party, insisting that Ayu must go.
The governor said the current leadership structure, with the North holding the presidential ticket as well as the national chairman positions, was against the Constitution of the PDP and a gross injustice to the South.
Wike made the observation at the inauguration of the Ahoada Campus and staff quarters of the Rivers State University, which was performed by Makinde, yesterday.
Wike said the resignation of the BoT chairman was a distraction, because Atiku had told him that Ayu must relinquish his position.
The governor said: “Ayu said if the presidential candidate comes from the North, he will resign after the convention of our party, and that the chairman of our party will come from the South. When the North-Central leaders met in the house of the Bauchi governor, Bala Mohammed, he said so there. When he met the caucus of the Senate, he told them that.
“Now, when we finished our convention on Sunday, the candidate of the party came to see me in my house in Abuja on Monday around 10:30 a.m. The candidate told me he wants us to work together, and then he said: ‘Look, Ayu must go.’
“I said, why? He (Atiku) said because when a candidate comes from the North, the chairman will come from the South.
“They have today told the BoT chairman to resign. Who is talking about chairman of BoT? What is the role of a BoT? It is an advisory body. We have never zoned BoT. It is not a decision-making body. Those who run the party as it is today are the presidential candidate and the chairman.
“They will sit down and take decisions. The candidate is from the North, the chairman is from the North, who will represent the South in decision making. It is not about me. They are flying propaganda; will I be chairman of a party? No”
The governor said it was erroneous to think that he was bent on destroying the party when he was actually advocating for justice and equity.
“Some of you don’t know what’s happening in the country. You’re being deceived, they’ll tell you this Wike is causing problem. Wike is not causing problem. Wike is bringing peace to this country. Wike is advocating for justice, Wike is advocating for equity, Wike is advocating for development.”
Wike further traced the arrogance of the party’s presidential candidate and the national chairman to a deal they struck with somebody at the Presidency.
He said the presidential force was working for Atiku’s victory in 2023 and promised to disclose the identity of the person at the appropriate time.
He recalled that the same presidential force promised someone the presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) but failed to actualise it.
The governor insisted that the deal was the main reason why Atiku and Ayu had failed to honour their promises of restructuring the party ahead of the election.
MEANWHILE, the PDP in Oyo State, yesterday, expressed happiness over the emergence of Makinde as the chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum.
Speaking with The Guardian in Ibadan, the state’s Publicity Secretary of the party, Akeem Olatunji, said the development was a good omen for the party.
Olatunji added that it showed that the PDP is a serious party, which is poised to coast home to victory next year.
While saying the governor will bring his experience to bear on the new role, the publicity secretary added that the appointment is a round peg in a round hole.
A PDP chieftain in Rivers State, Ogbonna Nwuke, has said the resignation of Jibril as BoT chairman, as well as the stepping aside of Tambuwal as chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, was not enough to appease Wike and his team.
Reacting to the outcome of the NEC meeting in Abuja, the former member of the House of Representatives said BoT was only an advisory body, which has no much effect.
He said: “The situation is very clear, you cannot have a presidential candidate from a particular zone and the national chairman from that same zone. That does not answer the equation question inherent in the PDP Constitution. We must do the needful if we want peace as we get closer to the kick-off of campaigns.”
The former APC spokesman in the state, who recently defected to PDP commended Jibril for always being on the path of truth.
“Wahid Jibril is a gentleman. From the beginning, he was always on the path of truth. But that is not enough to balance the imbalanced equation as we see it in the PDP today. The national chairman of the party has to resign. That demand is very key to us,” he said.
AN APC chieftain from Rivers, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, has urged Wike to moderate his boastfulness. He reminded the governor that his inability to maintain PDP in the state is enough warning that he was not all-powerful, stressing that the governor’s threat to crush Rivers APC is, therefore, empty.
Wike had, while commissioning one of his projects, the Ogbunuabali Sand-filled area in Port Harcourt, declared that he and his team have a huge task of bringing down the structure of APC in Rivers.
But reacting to the threat, in a statement, Eze, who was the spokesperson of defunct nPDP, disclosed the governor’s serial failed attempts in the past, noting that he will continue to fail in such an unfortunate and ridiculous mandate.
“It is laughable to see the governor deploy very flamboyant claims as a gimmick to sway presidential candidates and political lobbyists to continue to see him afloat the waters of political relevance ahead of 2023 elections.
“It beats one’s imagination to comprehend the parameter used by Governor Nyesom Wike that gave him the deceptive conclusion and false impression that he is either destroying or capable of destroying the APC structure in Rivers,” Eze stated.
He stressed that the fact that the governor used some political jobbers to scuttle the chances of APC in the 2015 and 2019 elections should not give him courage to think that same regrettable mistakes will ever be allowed to happen in 2023.
He stated: “Are you counting on these elements re-joining you in order to receive their pay for aiding you to continue to ruin the economy and future of Rivers State as what gives you the impression that you are destroying the APC Structure? If the answer is in the affirmative, then your stand becomes laughable, as it doesn’t in any way portray that APC in Rivers State has been decimated.
“Seriously, how do you crumble a party structure that has members like Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Pastor Tonye Cole, Ambassador Ngofa, Ojukaye, Prof Ugboma, Dr. Asita, Chief Emeke Beke, Brown Onari, Dr. Innocent Barikor, Dr. Ndubuisi Nwankwo, Hon. Ike Chinwo, Dame Aleruchi CookeyGham, Dave Okumgba, Dr. Sokonte Davies, Henry Halliday, Forgiven Amachree, Biokpomabo Awara, Lady Oby Ndukwe, Mrs. Beatrice Amobi Dappa, Mrs. Opem Udose, Gbarato Baridakara, Darlington Nwauju, Sam-Sam Etetegwung, Hon. Douglas WaSerite Dodiyi Manuel, Mrs. Winnie Morganson, among other top party chieftains and stakeholders?”