•Resolves to back party’s presidential standard bearer
•Ex-VP says request achievable, but must follow due process
•PDP candidate has capacity to unite Nigeria, Makinde declares
•Ikpeazu: PDP needs genuine reconciliation to be victorious
Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
Speaking with one accord yesterday in Ibadan, South-west leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presented a “corporate demand” to the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, insisting that the PDP national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, must resign in the collective interest of the party.
The leaders made their demand at the South-west PDP Stakeholders’ Interactive Session with Atiku and his running mate, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, held at the Theophilus Ogunlesi Hall, Ibadan.
But the South-west leaders resolved to back Atiku and Okowa in the 2023 presidential election.
On his part, Oyo State Governor ‘Seyi Makinde noted that Atiku had the capacity to unite the country.
Responding, Atiku said the demand of the zone’s leaders was attainable. But he said the party’s constitution, rules, regulations and procedures must be adhered to.
In a related development, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State said yesterday that for PDP to win the 2023 presidential election, it must be courageous enough to engage in genuine reconciliation of aggrieved members. Ikpeazu stated this at his Umuobiakwa country house in the state, when members of the PDP Board of Trustees (BOT), led by its new acting chairman and former Senate President, Senator Adolphus Wabara, visited him.
Makinde, who spoke on the details of the meeting of the South-west PDP leaders, said the zone had classified its demands from Atiku into pre-election and post-election demands. He said for the party to reassure members of inclusivity, the lopsided sharing of its national positions must be reversed before the elections.
Makinde explained that the South-west leaders believed Atiku was capable of moving Nigeria out of the doldrums the All Progressives Congress (APC) had plunged it in since the last seven years.
A statement by Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted Makinde as describing Atiku as a unifier. It added that the governor was confident the party’s presidential candidate had the capacity to reposition the country. But Makinde believed Atiku needed to first support the restructuring of the party and uniting its members before the elections.
The position of the South-west leaders seemed to be in exact unison with that of Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, and Makinde himself.
The Oyo State governor said PDP must play politics of inclusion by allowing the post of national chairman move to the south. He said the above governors should not be seen as having any problems with the party or its presidential candidate because, according to him, they had left the issue of presidential primaries behind them.
He maintained that the message of the South-west PDP to Atiku was that Ayu must step down and the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party should be restructured to reflect national unity.
Makinde was quoted as saying at the meeting, “I want to thank everyone for coming for this meeting and, I think, at this point, we have to tell ourselves nothing but the truth. What we will do here is to speak the truth to ourselves. Yes, others have spoken here about the positive side of things, but we do have challenges and issues to address in our party.
“But one good thing is, we have the capacity to address those issues. Of course, I have seen people abuse me on social media, saying this issue is about Wike, Makinde, Ortom and Ugwuanyi, but the truth is, we don’t have any issue either with our party or our presidential candidate.
“If there are challenges, we must bring them on the table so that we can address them to ensure that our journey is smooth and we can get to our destination. So, this is not about individuals.
“I see some people talk about what cropped up during and after the presidential convention, when somebody was selected as vice presidential candidate.
“Truth is, those are issues that are behind us. They have happened and they have happened, but this is where we are. Are there issues coming out of those that we really need to address so we can be successful at the end of the day? The answer is, yes, and we will address them. Integrity and honour must be a part of our national psyche.
“We have spoken about the movement, the youth, and we have spoken about what they are looking for. Our people are in a state of hopelessness, which the APC brought upon us and it is the reality. But we are supposed to give hope to our people. We want them to listen to us, to hear our message to them. For us to be able to do that, we must lay a good example.
“We say we want to rescue Nigeria. Our candidate is a unifier and he will unify Nigeria. We want to restructure Nigeria. I have listened to our candidate, both publicly and privately, and we have had several interactions. Our party is talking about a government of national unity, because close to eight years of APC has left us badly divided. Well, the issue is, we must practise what we preach.
“If we want to unify Nigeria, we must unify the PDP first. If we want a government of national unity, the faces in the PDP must reflect national unity. If we want to restructure Nigeria, we must have the willingness to do what is right to bring inclusivity into PDP. Do we have the capacity? Do we have a candidate with the capacity? The answer is a resounding yes.”
Atiku agreed that the demand of the South-west leaders was achievable. He said, “I feel happy to be in Ibadan today to interact with you, the stakeholders of our party in the South-west. The most important event facing us today is the election of 2023 and how to win. From what I have seen in Lagos and Ibadan, I can tell you that we can win the election if we want to and it is possible for us to take over all the south-western states.
“More so, the new Electoral Act has improved our electoral processes and has made it difficult for people to write results. They cannot do it anymore and they cannot rig. If they send thugs to snatch ballot boxes, they will not be counted. So, the era is over. The most important thing for you is to make sure you are registered to vote and protect your vote.
“PDP is the oldest political party in Nigeria and since the return of democracy. Over time, the PDP has developed its own constitution, electoral processes, zoning of offices, power sharing and others, which will bring about the unity of the party and that of the country.
“I have no problem with wherever any of the members of the party comes from but it must be done in accordance with our constitution, regulations and practices.
“Therefore, what Governor Makinde is calling for is achievable under our constitution, rules, regulations and procedures. So, those institutions must serve as guides to whatever changes we make. That is why we cannot do anything outside the constitution, unless it is amended to reflect what we want them to be.
“Of course, we don’t say people should not have different views, but all views must go through our constitution, rules and practices. Otherwise, we cannot give this country the kind of leadership they want. So, it is time for us to return the PDP back to power.”
Earlier, Okowa; chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; Osun State Governor-elect, Senator Ademola Adeleke; acting National Chairman of PDP, Umar Iliya Damagun; former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola; and Senator Biodun Olujinmi all spoke on the need for the party to forge ahead as a united front.
They maintained that PDP had demonstrated the readiness to win the presidency and liberate Nigerians from the hardship brought upon them by APC.
Atiku, Okowa, Makinde, and some stakeholders had held a closed-door meeting Tuesday night, ahead of the stakeholders meeting in Ibadan. THISDAY learnt that the meeting was summoned by Atiku to resolve the differences in the various camps within the party.
The calls for Ayu’s resignation was also, allegedly, tabled and addressed at the meeting.
A source at the meeting told THISDAY that the PDP zonal leaders, in their insistence on Ayu’s resignation, were only demanding his adherence to his own prior commitment to resign as national chairman if the party’s presidential candidate emerged from the north.
But asked if the leaders would have adopted the same stance if Wike had been chosen as vice presidential candidate, the source simply resorted, “Well, it’s a matter of conjecture, since that occasion does not exist currently.”
The Rivers State governor’s failure to secure either the PDP presidential ticket or vice presidential ticket, owing to perceived betrayal, is believed to be at the core of the party’s crisis.
The Wike camp demands as an irreducible minimum request for peace, the removal of Ayu, who is currently in Europe.
Ayu recently returned from a Caribbean country, where he spent more than a month before travelling, again, to an unnamed European country for unknown reason.
Ikpeazu: PDP Needs Genuine Reconciliation to be Victorious in 2023
Ikpeazu said the main opposition party must courageously engage the aggrieved and dissenting voices in the party for genuine reconciliation if it hoped to win the next presidential election.
The governor told visiting members of the BoT, led by its acting chairman and former Senate President, Senator Adolphus Wabara, that he was available for assistance in resolving the problems confronting the party with a view to ensuring its victory in 2023. He said truth and justice must be prioritised for PDP to overcome its current challenges.
The governor stressed that PDP must remain angry and hungry for power, adding that the party must correct the mistakes that made it lose the 2015 election.
He said it was better for the party not to wash its dirty linings outside, maintaining that PDP has the capacity to solve its problems internally.
Ikpeazu enjoined the BoT members to look at the issues dispassionately, expressing the hope that the new BoT chairman, as a career diplomat, would rise to the occasion.
He assured that Abia was a PDP state, hence, there was no reason PDP would not win all the elections in the state. The governor stated that the party’s campaign slogan in the state was 5 over 5, meaning securing victory for the presidential, governorship, senatorial, House of Representatives, and House of Assembly candidates.
The governor congratulated Wabara on his appointment as acting BoT chairman, saying he must have been appointed to the position at this critical period because of his background and capacity to speak the right words at the right time.
Earlier, Wabara, also a native of Abia State, said he was in the state to officially inform the governor of his new appointment. He said he deemed it fit to start his assignment from his home state.
Wabara pledged that the BoT would look into the problems in PDP objectively, hence, the decision to move around to call on governors and other stakeholders of the party with a view to presenting a united, strong, and victorious party in next year’s elections.