Like others before him, embattled National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, may be another casualty of internal party power play if the push for his removal sails through, writes Emameh Gabriel
This is indeed not the best of time for the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, especially for its leadership at the national level, as calls for the resignation of its national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, intensified, a situation that has placed a cog in the party’s wheel just days to the kick off to campaigns for next year’s general elections.
Attempt by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, to resolve the rift with some agrieved members of his party, especially members of Governor Nyesome Wike-led group again ran into a brick wall last week when some South West stakeholders of the party insisted on the resignation of Ayu in the interest of equity, justice and fair play.
This came on the heels of the party’s last NEC meeting where stakeholders and decision making body of the party passed a vote of confidence on Ayu to continue as PDP National Chairman. But this did not live long.
With few days to the kick off of the 2023 general elections campaigns, analysts believe that Atiku risks another defeat with complacency and hubris even when he knows that 2023 is his last chance. Next year’s presidential election will be his sixth attempt to become Nigeria’s president since 1993.
“Atiku knew what he was up to and up against when he used Ayu to declare the PDP presidential ticket open to all zones despite his knowledge about the zoning arrangements between the South and the North.
“We can now see the handwriting on the wall that we may not do well in the presidential election. Although is not my prayer for our party to lose, I doubt if we have chances of coming close to what we had in 2019”, said a party source.
“You have Peter Obi who is already harvesting massively from votes in the South where we used to have our votes bank. This is worrisome, just for the greed of one man a few others who want to highjack the party even when they have contributed little or nothing to it, the source further said.
By November, Atiku will clock 75 and if he loses the election next year, he will be remembered as a serial loser in Nigeria’s presidential politics.
Atiku’s situation already seemed even worsened the moment he went against popular opinion, especially in the South and the Middle Belt, that another Northerner should not succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.
The newly appointed Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party and former Senate President, Chief Adolphus Wabara, had joined Atiku last week to begin crucial moves to save the party from imminent collapse after months of power play that has consumed the peace in the party.
Wabara was to lead a delegation of the PDP BoT, comprising some former governors, ex-deputy governors, ex-ministers and other top party chieftains to meet three of the aggrieved PDP governors within 48 hours.
The move was meant to pacify the aggrieved governors and prepare grounds for further negotiations that will halt the moves by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to poach further from the party’s ranks.
The event was supposed to be one of Atiku’s latest moves not only to save his old political ally but also to gain control over the National Working Committee ( NWC) of the party with Ayu calling the shots for him in proxy.
Last week, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo state had during an interactive session in Ibadan, renewed the calls for the resignation of Ayu as PDP national chairman. Makinde didn’t mince words when he also told Atiku that the issue of lopsidedness in the party’s elective positions and non-compliance with the constitution and lay down principles guiding the party’s operation must be addressed.
Makinde, a member of Governor Wike’s camp said to Atiku: “The truth is that we do not have any issue either with our party or our candidate. If there are challenges they must be tabled. We are supposed to give hope to our people.
“Our party wants to rescue Nigeria and our candidate is a unifier. He wants to restructure Nigeria as eight years of the All Progressives Congress have left us sharply divided. The issue is we must practice what we preach. If we want to unify Nigeria, we must unify the PDP first.
“If we want to restructure Nigeria, we must have the willingness to bring inclusivity to the PDP. Do we have the capacity? The answer is resounding yes. The message from the South-West PDP is the South-West is asking that the National Working Committee of the PDP should be restructured. We are asking the National Chairman to step down so that the South will be fully included. That is the message”.
Although Atiku in his response insisted that Ayu can only removed by lay down principles and the constitution of the party haven been elected by a convention, he was diplomatic this time in his response to the South West demands.
His words: “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.
Meanwhile, while the party chapters in Ogun, Osun and Ondo states at the weekend declared their support for the embattled National Chairman of the party and the presidential candidate, a
former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, has warned that the party might lose the 2023 presidential election if equity, fairness, and internal democracy was not allowed to prevail, insisting that the National Chairman of the party, Ayu must go as the starting point.
George also frowned at the arguments that Ayu is protected by the party’s constitution. The PDP chieftain also called on the opposition party to suspend its constitution to effect the removal of Ayu as its national chairman.
The former PDP deputy chairman who spoke in a chat with Arise News TV at the weekend said: “what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
“Our party constitution explicitly states that there would be zoning and rotation of elective offices and party offices. If we had stuck rigidly to that, there was no chance for Atiku to have emerged”.
“When it suits you can refer to the constitution and when it does not then you back away from the constitution.
“If we can call off zoning and accept the presidential candidate to come from any zone which is against our constitution, so what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Allow us for this period.”
George expressed concern that two weeks to campaigns, “our party is at the precipice of a dangerous looming crisis if pending critical issues are not urgently addressed.
“Party unity and inclusiveness of all members are ingredients to a viable strategy for our election victory.
“Pitiably, some of our leaders are, directly or indirectly, responsible for the present crisis in the party because of their flawed personal interests, which are targeted at disrupting the unity of our great party,” he said.