End Of The Road For Wike’s Agitation As PDP BoT Submits Report This Week, Rules Out Ayu’s Removal

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The reconciliation committee set up by the Board of Trustees of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP), to meet with aggrieved party members, especially Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his allies, may submit its report this week, DECENCY GLOBAL NEWS has learnt.

It was, however, gathered that the committee ruled out the possibility of removing the National Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, as demanded by Wike as a precursor to further negotiations.

One of our correspondents learnt that due to the timing, especially with the commencement of campaigns, the committee believed it would be counterproductive and damaging to the party if Ayu was forced out of office before the elections. The committee believed the only way out was to pacify Wike to show understanding.

A member of the committee, who spoke to DECENCY GLOBAL NEWS on condition of anonymity, said the panel was able to establish that the party’s leadership mismanaged the crisis that erupted after the presidential primary. The crisis stemmed from Wike’s dissatisfaction with the emergence of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate and his choice of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as his running mate.

Independent of the previous committee set up by the party to meet with Wike to resolve the crisis, the then Chairman of the BoT, Walid Jibrin, early in August set up another committee whose members were drawn from the BoT to intervene in rifts in the party.

The Adolphus Wabara-led committee has concluded its reconciliation tours that took it to Ibadan, Makurdi, Umuahia, Enugu and Port Harcourt to meet with governors Seyi Makinde, Samuel Ortom, Okezie Ikpeazu, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Wike of Oyo, Benue, Abia, Enugu and Rivers states, respectively. The committee, according to findings, would meet with the National Working Committee before presenting the report.

However, the source said, “We have started putting the report together. We hope to get it ready next week (this week). We agreed not to talk to the press about the issue. We are making progress.

“We listened to Wike and I must admit that he has good intentions for the party and our presidential candidate. When we met him, he explained his grievances to us and we almost agreed to everything he said. It is the fault of our leaders. They did not handle it well.

“They ought to have called him and others immediately after the primary and hold meetings with them. We cannot do without him. We need him in our campaign council. He has charisma for campaigns, he has people around him and he also has some governors with him, and the money to spend.

“But I think it is too late in the day to ask Ayu to go. It is practically not possible. We may have to listen to him and appeal to others like Wike to allow us to manage the situation now because we cannot afford to lose the elections.”

Meanwhile, despite the meetings between Atiku and Wike within and outside the country, and subsequent meetings of their allies, the crisis has yet to be resolved.

In further demonstration of their dissatisfaction with the party over Ayu’s continued stay in office, Wike and his allies boycotted the inauguration of the party’s presidential campaign council on September 28.

Apart from Makinde, who openly demanded Ayu’s removal, Ortom on Friday asked the national chairman to either resign or beg if he must retain his seat.

Wike’s camp adamant

Speaking on the likelihood that Ayu may retain his seat based on sources in the committee, an ally of Wike, Senator Olaka Wogu, said the group would have to meet to decide on the next line of action. He noted that it would be unfortunate if the party failed to address their concerns.

He told one of our correspondents, “There is no way anybody can tell what the Wike group will do. That will only emerge when the group meets. We have a group and the stakeholders own the process. Wike is not by himself; there are other governors, former governors, senators, BoT members and prominent members, who are sympathetic to his cause and are star members of the party.

“The issue is, what do they want to do with this defiance; do they want to stand against it or accept it? But like I said, whatever the group decides will be a product of consultation.

“Certainly, you can expect that if that (Ayu’s refusal to step down) is the position the party has taken, in spite of the hue and cry of these members of the party, it’s unfortunate and regrettable and it is something that the Wike people are likely to view in those lights.”

Asked when the group might meet, he said he was unaware of the next meeting date, noting that its meetings were usually informed by developments. “I don’t think there is any day that at least one important member of the party is not talking to Wike. He is continually being spoken to by very senior members of the party and indeed Nigerians,” Wogu added.

On whether or not the Wike group would concede the party’s decision, he said, “Every opinion is legitimate to the opinion holder, so those who feel they should concede have their reasons and the Wike group not conceding has its reasons too. The Wike group members have not asked anything for themselves; it has been on the basis of equity, justice, fair play, unity and honour. You said you would do this, do it.”

He said the group’s demands were not personal, adding that when people stand on principles, it could be a lonely road and it could be misunderstood, but that the other party should also have a rethink.

PDP, Atiku speak

Meanwhile, the PDP Presidential Campaign Council says it is reaching out to all stakeholders to enlist their support for the elections.

Asked if the council was reaching out to former President Goodluck Jonathan, who has not been seen partaking in the party’s activities in recent times, the Media Adviser to Atiku, Mr Paul Ibe, said, “Nothing will be off the table; whatever will be for the good of the PDP and the nation will be done. Everything will be done to ensure that whatever outstanding issues are resolved.”

When asked if the former President was still a member of the party, considering insinuations during the party primaries that he was holding talks with the APC, Ibe stated, “Has Jonathan told anybody that he is not a member of the party? So, nothing has changed.”

On the lingering crisis between Atiku and Wike, Ibe said efforts were being made to resolve the issues, adding, “I have said it and nothing has changed; every effort is being made to ensure that the lingering issues are resolved.”

Party expresses confidence

The Deputy National Youth Leader of the party, Timothy Osadolor, has expressed hope that the rift would soon be settled.

In an interview with DECENCY GLOBAL NEWS, Osadolor said, “It is only natural that the reconciliation committee goes back to brief the party that set it up ab initio to report on the progress made so far. It will make recommendations and take further directives.

“The aim is to have a united house and a unified campaign council. Nigerians are looking up to the PDP for leadership and to rescue her from the pain and disappointment that they are currently undergoing. As a party, we will not only do this, we will do it with utmost dispatch.

“It is one party and one umbrella. It is in the interest of all of us to be united and focused on the issues Nigerians are looking up to us for. We cannot afford to be using time to salvage the nation to be dwelling on issues not bothering Nigerians,” he added.

In an interview with our correspondent, the spokesman for the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said it would be hasty to say the reconciliation committee had concluded its assignment.

On his part, the Director, Strategic Communications of the National Campaign Management Committee of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Dele Momodu, said the party “is 90 per cent ready for the task ahead.” Momodu, who contested the presidential ticket of the party, but lost to Atiku noted, “In terms of preparation, we are ahead of other political parties.

I can assure Nigerians that we are going to the elections as a united party. Our internal issues will be over soon.

“Atiku is prepared. You only need to come to the campaign headquarters to see things for yourself. The young ones believe in him.”

The immediate past National Publicity Secretary of the party and spokesman for the campaign council, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “The rallies in Kano, Bauchi and Ibadan did not portray us as a party in crisis. On Monday, Atiku will be in Uyo to take the message to the South-South that indeed, there is no alternative to the PDP in 2023.”

Crisis not resolved

A former member of the House of Representatives, Ogbonna Nwuke, has queried claims by Ayu that the party will win the 2023 presidential election with seven million votes.

Nwuke, who represented the Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency of Rivers State, said, “Atiku is not a colossus. Yes, Atiku has no power of his own to remove Ayu, but Atiku can work with all men of goodwill, who wish the PDP well, to address threats and imbalances that may suffocate the party.

“That is the point Atiku is missing. There is no reason to cry over spilt milk if Atiku has refused to see reason. We can only wish the flag bearer and his supporters well if they believe going to the election with Ayu is a plus.”

Nwuke, who is a former Commissioner for Information and Communications in the state, said he and others would remain in the PDP as Wike had reiterated but that the deficiency they identified should be dealt with for the sake of inclusiveness and the party.

“I don’t know how the seven million votes will come, but I know that Nigerians have yet to cast their votes. Ayu is rather boastful that he and others working for Atiku will rake in seven million winning votes. What else can we pray for? God help them,” he added.

Campaigns begin Monday

The PDP says it will officially commence its presidential campaign in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, on Monday.

The National Publicity Secretary in an interactive session with journalists on Saturday said the party was prepared for an issue-based campaign, adding, “The PDP will take our campaign to all the states, local government areas, wards and polling units across the country under the Unified Campaign Structure as approved by the National Executive Committee of our party.”

A separate statement by the Director of Field Operations of the campaign organisation, Umar Bature, said NWC members, governors, candidates of the party, National Assembly members, members of NEC and BoT, state executive members, former governors, ex-ministers were expected to attend the event with their supporters.