With a few days to the commencement of campaign for the 2023 general elections, there seems to be no end in sight to the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Trouble started for the main opposition party after its primary election when the national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, alongside the presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, visited Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.
During that visit, Ayu had hailed Tambuwal, describing him as “a hero of democracy.” Whatever he meant by that, the statement is the off-shoot of the major crisis in the party today.
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who came second in that primary election, and all those in his camp, saw that remark from the party’s national chairman as “disappointing and from a biased point of view.”
As if that was not enough, Atiku went ahead to pick Delta Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate despite the decision of a committee for that purpose, which earlier settled for Wike, according to Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.
Now, to assuage his feelings and that of his followers, Wike had demanded Ayu’s resignation, stating that both Atiku and Ayu had earlier made such a commitment.
Saga Gist, however, reports that instead of Ayu to resign, what Nigerians saw was a vote of confidence in him. It was rather the Board of Trustees Chairman, Walid Jibrin, that was allegedly coerced to resign, a development that has not gone down well with the members of the party from the Southern part of the country.
To drum home that point, Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde on Wednesday told Atiku that Ayu must resign for peace to reign in the party.
Makinde spoke when Atiku visited the State, alongside other chieftains of the party.
Some of those present included: Okowa, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto, Senator Ademola Adeleke, Soji Adagunodo and Chief Raymond Dokpesi, former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu and his counterparts from Ondo, Olusegun Mimiko and Osun, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Eyitayo Jegede, Dino Melaye and Ladi Adebutu.
Makinde insisted that one of the conditions to restructure the party was for Ayu to resign, explaining that the presidential candidate, Atiku is from the north while Ayu is also from the north.
“We must speak the truth. The truth is that we don’t have any issue either with the party or the candidate.
“We don’t have any issue with the PDP. This is not about an individual. Those are the issues that are behind us, it has happened, it has happened.
“The issue is that we must restructure Nigeria if we want unity in Nigeria. But, we must restructure PDP itself before we restructure Nigeria. If we want to restructure Nigeria, do we have the capacity, the answer is yes. But, the South West PDP is asking the PDP chairman to resign. The Southwest PDP is telling the Chairman to step down,” he said.
Responding, Atiku categorically told his audience that Ayu’s resignation is a tall dream.
Although he did not rule it out, he said it would only be possible should the constitution be amended, a development analysts say was a near impossibility before the 2023 presidential election.
Atiku said, “only if the PDP constitution is amended.
“The calls for the resignation of the national chairman or any national officer can only be achieved through the party’s constitution.
“The party’s constitution can only be amended. It is possible.
“When I was the Vice President, we took over South West except Lagos state. I don’t want us to lose focus, the focus is on how to win the 2023 elections. I know that we are capable, we can do that”.
With this, he appears to have foreclosed the possibility of Ayu’s resignation in line with Wike’s camp’s demand.
Speaking on the development, the Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro said Atiku’s stand was disappointing.
The Ohanaeze scribe noted that, “we cannot fathom why it is so difficult for the PDP presidential candidate and the national chairman to respect a simple agreement at this early stage. Governor Wike has said several times that they committed to the fact that Ayu will resign, so our question is why are they reneging on that promise? It is not a good omen at all.
“Even if they did not make the pledge, how on earth can both of them come from the North? Does it mean the South is not relevant to the PDP? What of the South-East that has remained the most loyal region to the PDP? What have they benefited?
“We heard what Atiku said in Oyo clearly; we are not kids, the message is clear enough. What he has just told the South clearly is that Ayu is not resigning and that they can do without us. We shall go into our room and take our own decision.”
Meanwhile, Wike is yet to react to Atiku’s latest stand.