There are feelers in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the party stakeholders may ask the National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, to step aside to fulfil one of the key demands by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State for peace to return to the party.
Findings revealed that this may happen as soon as the next round of meetings of the various organs of the party, culminating in a meeting of its highest decision-making body, its National Executive Committee (NEC), holds.
Despite the sustained pressure from the Wike group for Ayu to resign, the party boss cannot do so unless it becomes a decision of the party hierarchy.
The former Senate president had indeed alluded to this before the national convention of the party that produced former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, noting, at the time, that should the candidate emerge from the North, which is his own zone, he will step aside from his post if the party so decides.
Many party stakeholders have since assumed the position that he should resign since the presidential candidate comes from the same zone as himself so as to create the necessary geopolitical balance in the party organogram, especially as the North also holds the post of the chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT).
The PDP BoT chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, has already thrown his weight behind the move to restructure the party offices to reflect diversity as he posited that it is unfair for both the presidential candidate of the party and its national chairman to come from the same zone.
“To tell the truth, it will not be fair for the president of Nigeria to be from the North, the chairman of the party from the north and the BoT chairman from the north,” Jibrin argued.
A member of NEC of the party affirmed to the Nigerian Tribune on Sunday in confidence that now that the BoT chairman has thrown forward the matter, it is now in the court of the party to decide.
“Ayu declared that if the presidential candidate emerges from the North and the PDP says on account of that he should leave office that as a democrat, he will do that. Has the party asked Ayu to leave? That’s the question. Initially, my own position was that the matter wasn’t before the party because the agitations were outside of the party.
“But now that the BoT chairman has brought the issue to the domain of the party and even has his own suggestions, that means the matter has come before the party. So, the party should be allowed to deal with the matter,” the NEC member said.
However, it was learnt that the party can only take the decision to ask Ayu to vacate his post if a consensus develops among its critical organs, including the National Working Committee (NWC), PDP Governors Forum; former PDP Ministers Forum; the BoT, the National Caucus and ratified by its NEC.
Stakeholders of the PDP, who spoke to the Nigerian Tribune, said despite media reports, there is no crisis in the former ruling party but a disagreement on issues. Some cited the fact that Wike has stopped directing his attacks on the presidential candidate of the party but on those who he thinks are responsible for the situation within the party that he considers unpalatable.
“If you look at it closely, you will discover that Wike’s reactions are not essentially targeted at the candidate. He has shifted from the initial reaction to Atiku to a reaction to his friends and brothers in the same political party in his own state.
“He has moved from there to go after individuals, who are members of the party who he believes have one form of hand or the other in the disagreement. When you look at it clinically, he is isolating the candidate from the problem.
“If you say there is a crisis in the party, you are saying Atiku is firing a salvo at Wike and his team from one side and Wike is firing salvo to Atiku or you say that our NWC is so divided that they cannot even hold NWC meeting, or we can’t do NEC meeting. That is when you talk about crisis,” a top party source argued.
The Benue State Governor, Sam Ortom, continues to support Wike because of his role in convincing the Rivers governor to support Ayu to become the national chairman of the party.
Findings revealed that Governor Ortom had persuaded former Senate president, David Mark, who had been pencilled down for the job, to stay aside due to age and personally introduced Ayu to Wike who initially doubted the party boss’s true intentions.
A credible source privy to the process said: “Ortom singlehandedly took Ayu to Wike and Wike asked Ortom, ‘can we trust this man?’ And Ortom said yes. After his emergence when the crisis started, Wike asked Ortom, ‘can you see what this man is doing? Can you see what I told you that time?
“The resolution of the Wike’s group is that Ayu must go. Ayu did not contest election to become the national chairman of PDP. It was Ortom that went to bring him despite the fact that people like (ex-Benue State governor, Gabriel) Suswam warned against it,” the source added.
Source: Nigerian Tribune