The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party took a new dimension on Friday with the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, making a series of allegations against the Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, and the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, among others.
While the PDP is waiving the olive branch in the direction of the governor, Ayu and Atiku refused to react to his outburst.
At the PDP convention in May, Wike had polled 237 votes to finish second behind Atiku, a former Vice-President, whose 371 votes gave him the privilege of flying the party’s flag in the 2023 presidential election.
Although Wike has continued to pledge his loyalty to the PDP, he is insistent that following the emergence of Atiku, the national chairman of the party, Ayu, cannot continue to preside over the affairs of the PDP given that he is from the North like the presidential candidate.
With Ayu and Atiku both unwilling to grant his request, Wike has wasted no time in forming a formidable movement whose members include governors Seyi Makinde, Okezie Ikpeazu and Samuel Ortom of Oyo, Abia and Benue states respectively, to force the chairman out of office.
The pro-Wike movement also has in its fold, veteran politicians like a former Minister of Information, Prof Jerry Gana; ex-governors Donald Duke, Olusegun Mimiko and Jonah Jang of Cross River, Ondo and Plateau states, respectively, as well as former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, Olabode George, among others.
With the party and Atiku not prepared to meet the demands of the governor, Wike’s team withdrew from the PDP presidential candidate’s campaign council.
Wike, in a television interview with some journalists in Port Harcourt on Friday, dared the PDP to suspend him and await the consequences.
“Who will suspend me? Which party? I beg them today, they should not waste time to suspend me. They should call a National Executive Committee meeting now and say, ‘You are now suspended from the party’. Anything you see, you take. They know what I will do,” he boasted.
On the options available to him in the event of a suspension, the governor asked, “What do you think is our job here? My job here is not just to do projects. I am not saying I am bigger than the party, but those who ran away from the party cannot suspend me from the party.”
Ayu manipulated delegates
In what appeared to be an indication of a personal feud between the governor and the party’s chairman, Wike revealed some of the intrigues that characterised the convention and presidential primaries of the PDP.
“He (Ayu) was calling aspirants to withdraw for Atiku. I was there; Saraki and others were there. He (Ayu) manipulated the delegates. There was nothing Ayu did not do to ensure that Wike did not emerge,” he lamented.
Aware of his political relevance in Rivers State, Wike reminded his party that winning in the oil-rich state without his support was a mere wish, saying, “You can do without me, I agree; but to say you will win without me in this state (Rivers), it will not be possible.”
PDP jettisoned zoning
He said, “Those who thought they were too powerful, highly connected and that they own the party said there should be no zoning of the presidential ticket. They said, ‘Leave it open and let the best candidate emerge’, because they think they have the numbers.
“We jettisoned our constitution, not knowing that we are laying the foundation (and sowing) the seed of discord in the future.”
According to him, the failure of the PDP to abide by the agreement reached that the South should produce the President in 2023 is the reason he fell out with his Delta and Enugu state counterparts, Ifeanyi Okowa and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
He stated, “We (governors) from the South met and said the presidency must go to the South. Governors Rotimi Akeredolu, Dave Umahi and Ifeanyi Okowa were the conveners. The first meeting was in Asaba and in that meeting, it was agreed that with President Muhammadu Buhari being a northerner and certain to do eight years, for the sake of inclusion, the next President should come from the South.
“The next meeting was in Lagos and we also agreed to pursue the agenda. The final meeting was in Enugu. I remember one of the governors said, ‘How can I tell my children that I cannot be President because I did not come from a particular section of the country?’ At the appropriate time, I will name the governor
“That was why we said Secondus’ (Uche) time was running out and he was not going back. The presidency has to come to the South and the presidency cannot come to the South if you (Secondus) are the chairman of the party.