Plot To Sack Ayu Thickens

Plot To Sack Ayu Thickens
  • Vice-Presidential choice unsettles party
  • Chieftains moving for chairman’s removal over failure to honour agreement, others

Muyiwa Oyinlola 

Members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, not happy with the leadership style of its National Chairman, Dr. Iyorcha Ayu, have started mobilising against his administration.

The rebellion is coming against the heels of his failure to live up to some of his promises as well as the recent emergence of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as the Vice-Presidential running mate of the party.

Ayu, being from Benue State, North Central, it was gathered had promised to step down as chairman in the event of emergence of a northerner as the PDP Presidential candidate. This, he has failed to comply with, the emergence of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, from Adamawa State, as presidential candidate.

Ayu, it was gathered had stated he would only step aside in the event Abubakar wins the 2023 presidential election, deviating from his earlier agreement with the party leading to the primary election that his leadership had thrown open instead of zoning which runs against the party zoning formula.

It is against the tradition of the party for both National Chairman and Presidential candidate to be from the same divide of the country, as being currently witnessed, even the BOT chairman of the party and the PDP governors’ forum chairman are from the North. This implies that all party organs and decision making body are all from one zone

This, however, was allowed to lie low until the emergence of Okowa as Abubakar’s running mate, last month and the burbles seem to have busted.

Whereas the party had set a screening committee to come up with a running mate to Abubakar, it was gathered that the party later reneged on this and settled for Okowa, without getting back to members on why the idea was jettisoned. Many party faithful, especially those loyal to Gov Wike reminded Ayu of the agreement prior to the outcome of the party’s presidential primary election.

Supporters of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who came second at the party’s presidential primary, had hoped he would emerge as running mate to Abubakar, having been chosen by the VP candidate selection committee but the table turned against him.

Wike’s supporters said Ayu was the one who did not make the screening committee do its work and come up with Wike as running mate.

Wike and his Benue counterpart and ally, Samuel Ortom, on the other hand, are said to be behind the plot to remove Ayu. 

Some sources within the party disclosed that Ortom was very unhappy with Ayu and accused him of ‘betrayal’ as he, Ortom, played a vital role in his emergence as the party’s chairman.

Two associates of Mr Wike,  Ortom, and a former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, last week publicly expressed their reluctance to back Abubakar for the general election.

While Mr Ortom said he was still awaiting God’s direction on his decision on the issue,  Fayose declared that Wike would not support Atiku.

Although both men hinged their grievances on alleged unfair treatment and disrespect of Mr Wike by the presidential candidate in the process of the nomination of Abubakar’s running mate, the main contention at this point concerns the party’s national chairman, Mr Ayu.

Mr Wike’s camp has demanded that Mr Ayu relinquish his position so that the party can elect a new chairman from the southern part of the country.

They said Ayu’s removal from the party’s chairmanship is necessary to address the lopsidedness in the PDP hierarchy.

Atiku is, however, backing Ayu to stay on, at least until after the elections next year, those familiar with the matter said.

Meanwhile, the party has constituted a reconciliation committee to appease Wike  over the choice of Okowa as the party’s vice-presidential candidate in 2023.

The Committee will be led by the presidential candidate of the Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

PDP Board of Trustees Chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, who announced the formation of a reconciliation committee on Sunday, said their first assignment is to visit Wike, whom he described as a responsible and obedient member of the party.

Jibrin also said Wike had assisted in the building of the party.

Jibrin, in a statement made available to newsmen in Kaduna, said as soon as Atiku and the national chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, returned to the country, the process of reconciling all aggrieved members would commence with Atiku as the head of the committee.

The BoT chairman listed members of the committee to include himself; Atiku, Okowa, Ayu and his National Working Committee members; representatives of the BoT; the 13 governors of the PDP; former governors; and former ministers belonging to the PDP.

He urged members of the party to shun divisive comments capable of causing conflicts within the party and pushing some members to defect to other parties.

The statement read, “We view with great concern and great sense of feeling the various recent comments coming from some of our PDP members and some prominent Nigerians on the choice of Chief Okowa, the Governor of Delta State as the vice-presidential candidate, by the presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of our party, PDP, the biggest party not only in Nigeria but the whole of Africa.

“All the comments and various submissions are very normal in any political set-up in Nigeria today with the PDP being the strongest and most prominent party that has all potential to form government in 2023.

“But we must come back to our senses by all our members and all most responsible and respectful Nigerians by giving total support to the party to enable it form government by holding all political positions in Nigeria in 2023.

“It is, therefore, very necessary that when our presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and our national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu return to Nigeria very soon from abroad, the following must be done immediately:

“A very important visit must be undertaken to Governor Wike comprising the following group:

“The above committee should be headed by the presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar”.

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