The crisis in the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), seems far from being resolved as the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party is presently divided over the demand by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, that the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, must resign before he would agree to reconcile with the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Also, State chairmen of the party are divided over the demands including that of former Vice President Atiku serving only one term of four years in office as part of the reconciliation process in the party.
Top party members noted that the NWC members were sharply split between those who endorsed the calls for Ayu’s removal and the ones that were against the idea.
Wike and Atiku fell apart after the former vice-president emerged as the PDP presidential candidate and selected the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate over Wike who was recommended by a panel set up by the party.
Although the PDP set up a panel to reconcile the two men, Wike’s insistence on removing the party chairman as a condition for peace had continued to generate tension in the main opposition party.
Wike had accused Ayu of being impartial, noting that he had earlier promised to resign if a northerner emerged as the party presidential candidate.
In a bid to pacify the Rivers governor, Atiku during his meeting with him and four other governors in London, United Kingdom, last Thursday, was said to have asked Wike to give him two weeks to think about the governor’s insistence on Ayu.
Global Upfront Newspapers (GUN) had reported the meeting between Atiku Abubakar and Wike at the Park Lane Carlton Hotel in London on Thursday alongside Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State. Other notable member of the party including former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke were also in attendance.
The highlights of the agreement arising from the meeting is that Dr Iyorchia Ayu is to step down immediately as PDP Chairman. But the party and its Presidential candidate would “adequately compensated and treated with respect.”
Meanwhile, the Wike Camp is to produce a New PDP National Chairman from the South West Zone of the country.
Most importantly, Atiku is to serve for only one term of four years to pave way for power shift to the South which was trumpeted by his emergence as Presidential candidate.
Other agreements include the following:
- Wike Camp is to produce only the Senate President and some Principal officers of the National Assembly. But the Camp that would produce the Speaker of House of Representatives was left open for future discussions.
- On appointment of Ministers, the Wike Camp is to nominate Ministers for some key Ministries/Parastatals/Agencies
- The Wike Camp is to nominate a Director General of the Atiku Campaign Organisation. Towards this, they would also nominate a Campaign Spokesperson and share other key positions in the campaign structure.
To ensure that the agreement is binding, the power sharing structure is to be signed later “by both sides and sealed by the court.”
Party chairmen opposed to Ayu’s sack described the demand for Ayu’s removal as ill-timed as it was too close to the elections, especially as such a process involves constitutional action.
Other party chairmen said Ayu should step aside if that would be in the interest of the party. They noted that it would be his sacrifice for the party’s unity ahead of the polls.
However, the party chairmen are scheduled to meet soon to take a position over these contentious issues.
A member of the NWC of the party noted that asking Ayu to resign would not resolve the crisis.
According to him, if Ayu resigns, the Deputy National Chairman, Umar Damagum, who will take over, is also representing the North.
He said, “The issue is both political and constitutional. Asking Ayu to go may not solve the political problem, since the deputy national chairman of the party for the North will still take charge of the party in the absence of the chairman.
“To solve the constitutional and political crises, the NEC (National Executive Committee) of the party can dissolve the NWC and turn them into an interim committee. If that is done, they will just appoint someone from the region where they want the national caretaker chairman to come from as Ayu’s successor.
“But so far, no meeting has been slated for this week yet. But by tomorrow (today), we will know if there will be a meeting and the agenda will also be listed.”