Barring any last-minute change of mind, the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party will this week meet to deliberate on the crisis rocking the party.
This is part of a larger plan to rescue the campaign of the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, following the boycott of its campaign by some aggrieved governors of the party.
Sources confirmed that the advisory body is worried by the growing feud between the party and loyalists of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and may ask the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu to resign.
Although details of the meeting and date were sketchy as of the time of filing this report, the immediate past BoT chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, disclosed on Monday that members of the board were truly disturbed as the crisis showed no sign of abating.
He said, “There is a (BoT) meeting this week but I don’t know the date yet. What we are interested in is that we must speak with one voice and stay with the party’s plans and objectives to enable us to win the elections in 2023. We must encourage our members to rally other Nigerians to come out and vote for Atiku Abubakar and Ifeanyi Okowa.”
Against the backdrop of calls for Ayu to resign, the BoT is expected to take a categorical stand on the matter, including possible demand for Ayu’s removal in the interest of the party.
Speaking exclusively to The PUNCH, Jibrin enjoined party organs to remain united even as he took a swipe at the National Working Committee over what he called the “division” in its fold.
“We must not allow division like we are now witnessing in the NWC. All other organs must understand that the party constitution is supreme,” he said, warning that “Once the NWC members accommodate loopholes in the administration of the party, the PDP is finished.”
Jibrin’s diplomatic stance, however, contrasts with his fellow BoT member and former Minister in the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The ex-minister who does not want his name in print so “as not to preempt the outcome of the meeting” said, “We will look at the bigger picture and that picture is what is good for the party. We can’t be going into a major election with our house in disarray. Whatever sacrifice is needed for us to move forward, we will do it but I can’t be categorical so as not to preempt the outcome of the meeting.
“We must not be afraid to speak the truth. We must speak truth to power, though not everybody will like it. Whatever will affect our chances of winning the elections must give way.”
Speaking in the same vein, a former principal officer in the National Assembly wants the BoT to be guided in its deliberations by “those things that matter including justice, fair play and equity.”
Pleading for his name not to be mentioned, he stressed, “Treat the South as equal partners in this project. Interpret or process this and draw your conclusion on whether I want Ayu to go or remain in office.
“I have just an issue to emphasise here. If the chairman is quoted as making a promise that if a northerner emerged as the party’s presidential candidate that he will quit, what are we still talking about here?”
Although Ayu enjoys the support of over two-thirds of the members of the NWC as of now, there are chances things may change in the weeks ahead as five of the governors elected on its platform have vowed not to have anything to do with the Presidential Campaign Council unless Ayu is removed from office.
The governors; Nyesom Wike, Okezie Ikpeazu, Seyi Makinde, Samuel Ortom and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Rivers, Abia, Oyo, Benue and Enugu states have since turned their backs on Atiku, insisting on the resignation of Ayu and his replacement with a southerner.
BoT meets Atiku
In a related development, the Wabara-led BoT committee on Sunday met the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar over the crisis rocking the party and the way forward for the party.
The BoT committee, it was learnt, met Atiku in Abuja where discussions were held on how the crisis of confidence threatening to bring down the party was discussed.
The BoT, which is due to meet the Rivers State governor on Tuesday, emphasised the need to resolve the crisis facing the party ahead of the poll. They also discussed the various options the party could explore to resolve the crisis and placate the Wike-led aggrieved governors as soon as possible and begin campaigns for the 2023 poll.
A top PDP chieftain privy to discussions at the meeting said, “The BoT members met Atiku in Abuja on Sunday. Remember they had met the vice presidential candidate, Ifeanyi Okowa on Saturday. The meeting with Atiku was important because they needed to know the presidential candidate’s mind ahead of the meeting with Wike in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.“During the meeting, they discussed how the crisis could be resolved and how the party can placate the aggrieved governors before the campaign begins in earnest. But as usual, the presidential candidate said he was ready to work with the aggrieved governors. Remember he also had met with Wike on Thursday. So, he explained the challenges the party is having about asking Ayu to go, especially the constitutional crisis it may create. However, they also held some private discussions on what to do to placate the Wike faction.”
Also, it was learnt that the Special Reconciliatory Committee of the PDP would meet with Wike on Tuesday, (today).
The Chairman of the PDP BoT and former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara, made the disclosure in an interview with The PUNCH on Monday night.
He also dismissed speculations that the five PDP governors who met in Enugu on Sunday were plotting to quit the party and work against its interest in the 2023 election, saying “nobody is leaving the umbrella.”
When asked to give details of his meeting with the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku, he said, “We should exercise some patience because the Special Reconciliation Committee is completing its assignment now. That is why we visited our principal (Atiku) on Sunday; He is our President in waiting and that is the major reason why we have these problems going on in the party.