The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appears to be far from over as the national chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, yesterday said he will not resign his position, insisting that he has a four-year term to serve.
Ayu’s stance may complicate the peace process in the party as the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike’s side in the dispute are said to be insisting that Ayu must step down as party chairman in favour of a southerner following the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the PDP presidential candidate.
Yesterday, Ayu also refuted claims that he submitted a resignation to former Senate President David Mark, adding that he can only tender his resignation letter to the deputy chairman (North) as provided for in Section 45 (i and ii) of the PDP constitution.
The PDP national chairman was reacting to stories in the news media that he had resigned his position and that his resignation letter was with former Senate President David Mark.
Ayu spoke through his special adviser, Media and Communication, Simon Imobo-Tswam.
“We state, with all emphasis, that this story is, in its entirety, false, baseless, reckless, inaccurate, and a complete work of fiction. If there is such a resignation, it exists only in the imagination of those who have made themselves available for hatchet jobs.
“If Dr. Ayu had resigned, he would have given his resignation letter to the deputy chairman (North), not Senator Mark. Section 45 (i and ii) of the party’s constitution is clear on this,” he said, pointing out that Mark was not even a member of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).
He expressed surprise that such falsehood could be published in the mainstream media.
“But the fact remains that those who have been procured to write falsehoods against the national chairman and those sponsoring the same are investing in expensive illusions.
“The national chairman is on a crucial assignment: to lead the PDP on a historic rescue mission, come February 2023. And he will not be deterred or distracted by media terrorism or political blackmail.
“We restate, therefore, that the PDP national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, has not resigned and has no plan of resigning. For clarity and emphasis, he was elected for a tenure of four years,” the media aide said.
He quoted Sections 45 and 47 of the PDP Constitution which stipulate provisions for the removal and/or resignation of the national chairman, and advised not conversant with them to “get copies of the party’s constitution for more information on the matter.”
Consequently, he urged PDP members and the general public to ignore any stories of such a phantom resignation.
Wike has been aggrieved with the PDP since the party’s presidential primary after he lost to Atiku and was also overlooked for vice presidential candidate in favour of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
Party Leaders Meet On Atiku/Wike Reconciliation Friday
Meanwhile, effort by leaders of the PDP to reconcile Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, suffered a setback as it could not hold on Friday as scheduled.
Wike is aggrieved with the PDP after he lost to Atiku in the presidential primary and was overlooked as the party’s vice presidential candidate in favour of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
The leadership of the party had set up a reconciliatory meeting between the two camps, which was scheduled to hold in Abuja, yesterday.
Those that were expected at the meeting from Wike’s camp include former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke; former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana as well as former Governors Donald Duke, Olusegun Mimiko, and Ibrahim Dankwambo, amongst others.
In Atiku’s camp are Adamawa State Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, Hon Adamu Waziri, former Governor Liyel Imoke, Hon. Eyitayo Jedede and Engr. Hide Adeniji, amongst others.
A source close to Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt, who confirmed the shift in the date of the reconciliatory meeting, said it was due to engagements by Wike and Fintiri.
The source said: “Governor Fintiri is holding a programme for Atiku in Adamawa. The meeting is supposed to be held in Abuja, but most of those attending the meeting are in Port Harcourt for Dr. Peter Odili’s birthday. So, the meeting has been rescheduled for Friday but it will still be held in Abuja.”
Governor Ahmadu Fintiri will on Friday hold a meeting with Wike in continuation of wide consultations to address lingering feud between Atiku Abubakar and Wike.
Our correspondent gathered on Monday in Yola that the Friday meeting coming up in Port Harcourt would be the second time after Fintiri was appointed to lead Atiku Abubakar’s reconciliation team, as part of ongoing efforts at resolving the crisis ahead of 2023 elections.
Fintiri told newsmen, when he arrived in the state after his first leg to Wike, that he was an embodiment of both Atiku and Wike.
‘I can assure you that with God, the party will put its house in order before the 2023 elections.
He assured of genuine reconciliation, which he said is in progress.
Fintiri said, “We have gotten to the length and breadth of the crisis, with a view to addressing it amicably. We would soon get rid of the internal crisis rocking the party.
“As chairman of the reconciliation committee, on the side of Atiku, we have gotten to the length and breadth of the crisis. Very soon, we would join our hands to cross the t’s and dot the i’s to ensure the reconciliation is over.”
Atiku had at the reception organized in his honour yesterday endorsed Fintiri for the second time.
He said Fintiri had done well in the area of infrastructure to better the lot of people or the state.
Atiku, who is visiting the state for the first time after his emergence as PDP Presidential candidate, thanked the 640 defectors and PDP supporters for standing by him in his 32 years of political experience.
Wike Will Not Abandon PDP, Says Dele Momodu
Meanwhile, a former presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dele Momodu, has weighed in on the crisis rocking the PDP, saying Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike will not dump the main opposition party.
But Momodu, a PDP chieftain and publisher of Ovation Magazine, said Wike will not abandon the party because he is a principled politician.
“For me, Governor Wike is a very principled man; if there’s one thing he has been consistent about, it is his love for PDP. I believe he will not leave PDP. He is playing a mind game and he’s good at it. What shall it profit him if he joins APC?” he asked on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily yesterday.
According to Momodu, the developments in the party following the outcome of the presidential primary has made the governor of Rivers a force to be reckoned with.
He advised the PDP presidential candidate to have a one-on-one meeting with Wike to resolve the crisis rocking the party.
Momodu added, “What I would advise Atiku Abubakar to do today is to sit down one-on-one without no other person present with governor Wike and agree on deliverables, if possible, sign an agreement.
“Governor Wike believes that the party should have respected the zoning principle; number two, he believes that zoning would have favoured a southern candidate. Three, he believes that of all the southern aspirants, he is the one that has the capacity to deliver victory to the party.
“The situation in PDP shows what Wike is in the equation of things in Nigeria. If you have a man who is your best governor across the board, across party lines, Wike stands out as a fantastic performer.”
Some Rivers Elders Ganging Up Against Me – Wike
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has accused some party elders in the state of ganging up against him because they did not scale through the primary to be the governorship candidate of the PDP in the state.
He explained that some of them who indicated interest to fly the ticket, but failed at their bid to clench, are now in Abuja plotting against him.
Wike spoke yesterday during the 74th birthday reception organised to honour the former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, at the private residence built and donated to him by the state government in Old Government Residential Area, Port Harcourt.
The governor stated that those elders came to him on their own accord and showed a commitment that they would stay to see through what they came to convince him about.
He said: “On my last birthday, 12 midnight, one of our elders called me saying that they wanted to see me. They came to me and said they came to wish me a happy birthday.
“Then, they presented me with a letter that I should run for President. All of them including Dr. Abiye (Sekibo) signed the document.
“I said okay, you people too should go and give me someone who will be governor after me. They all sat there, looking left and right.
“I asked them, those of you who are interested to be governor should raise their hands. Everybody raised their hands. One person didn’t raise his hand, Senator Bari Mpigi. I asked why he was not interested, he replied, ‘sir, let me hold what God has given me. I don’t want to lose the two.’”
Wike noted the elders also signed a document that they would abide by whatever became the outcome of the governorship primary.
The governor, however, expressed regret that since they were not successful, they had turned around now to allege that he was pursuing a third term bid.
He said: “Some people don’t know the history. They go and tell all kinds of stories. But the truth is this, all of them (elders) signed the document prepared by O.C.J. Okocha that whoever I will bring, they will abide by it.
“But now, they went to Abuja (saying) that I must not be vice president. I also read, yesterday, that when I was in Paris, one of them said that I told him that if they do to me what they did to Dr. Odili, that I will collapse the system.”
Wike recalled that when Dr. Peter Odili was to run for the office of the president, he had a large crowd following, happily.
The governor noted that when the issue of governorship of Rivers State was to be decided and he did not give those who wanted it, they all left him, ran to Abuja to thwart his presidential ambition.
He, however, said he had been holding on to the advice of Dr. Odili, hence he was not surprised at the turn of events and the outcome of the PDP presidential primary.
Wike described Dr. Peter Odili a true leader of men who groomed many, and supported a lot of persons to political limelight, particularly in Rivers State and across the country.
The governor said: “There was a time when every political class abandoned Dr. Odili. This is a man who gave us everything. Some people called him Mr. Donatus. There was no abuse he did not get. Everybody – he tried to help their families, at the end of the day, all betrayed him.
“For us, we have used him as a school and we thank him for making himself available for us to use him to learn so that we won’t be shocked by whatever that is going to happen.”
In his response, Dr. Odili said his wife, Hon. Justice Mary Odili (retired) and he were overwhelmed by the birthday gift from the state government.
Odili explained that during his tenure as governor, Governor Wike was the best performing council chairman in the state.
He lauded governor Wike for investing in human capacity development, infrastructure and building the best Law School campus in Port Harcourt.