PDP Govs, N’Assembly Members Move to Rescue Party

*Mount pressure on Saraki to vie for chairmanship 

*Wike’s camp favours Ortom, Gana

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Governors and members of the National Assembly elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have commenced moves to rescue the party from its present docility since the suspension of its National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, THISDAY has learnt.
Investigation also revealed that some of the governors and National Assembly members are putting pressure on the former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki to vie for the position of the National Chairman of the party.

However, the loyalists of the former Rivers State governor and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Nyesom Wike are said to be rooting for a former governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, and a former Minister of Information, Prof Jerry Gana.
THISDAY gathered that the PDP governors, who are nine in number across the six geopolitical zones, are worried over the effects of the absence of a substantive chairman on the party.

 The governors are also said to be concerned that the legal battle to reinstate Ayu is not making progress as the matter is stalled between the Benue State High Court and the Court of Appeal.
It was gathered that the governors – three from the South-south, two from the North-east, and one each from South-east, south-west, and North-west, met recently on how to reactivate the party.

The meeting, it was further learnt, was on how to ensure the emergence of a substantive national chairman that would complete Ayu’s tenure.
A source privy to the development told THISDAY that the meeting also explored ways to achieve a total reorganisation and reconciliation of the party if the outcome of the presidential election petition at the Supreme Court does not favour PDP’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

 With the suspension of Ayu on May 26, 2023, a national chairman would be appointed from his North-central zone to complete his tenure.
The Deputy National Chairman of the party, North, Ambassador Iliya Damagum has been acting as the national chairman.
The quest for a substantive national chairman, it was learnt, will not affect the current structure of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party as currently constituted.

THISDAY was told that National Assembly members are also involved in the search for leadership that will give the party direction.
 In this regard, the governors and National Assembly members are putting pressure on a former Senate President, Saraki, to accept to lead the party in the capacity of national chairman.

Multiple sources that spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity, confirmed that pressure was on Saraki to lead the party.
One of the sources said: “We find him very accommodating with a sense of loyalty. He is also from the same zone as Ayu.
“Saraki is a natural unifier who enjoys wide acceptability and has goodwill among all groups, including the G-5 Group, Atiku’s acolytes, the non-aligned members, and others, such as the members of the NWC,” the source explained.

Saraki, another source said, did very well when in 2021, he handled the reconciliation assignment of the party that brought life back into the party when it was haemorrhaging after the 2019 loss of the presidential election.
“Saraki also enjoys the support of elder statesmen like Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Aliyu Gusau, and the rest of them. His acceptance by the youths is also a strong factor”, the source added.

According to the source, ” the governors and members of the National Assembly will be visiting Saraki immediately after the Independence anniversary holiday to inform him of the decision for him to vie to lead the party at this moment of its trying times.

 “Those mounting pressure on Saraki are expected to visit him in Maitama, Abuja; under the guise of discussing the future of the main opposition party. While some will make it a single-person visit, others come as small groups,” the source added.
Another source privy to the ongoing horse-trading also told THISDAY that the camp of the Minister of the FCT, Wike is also deeply involved in the search for a new chairman for the PDP.

“It was learnt that the Integrity Group is trying to prop up the former governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom, or the former Minister of Information, Prof Jerry Gana for the substantive office of national chairman,” the source explained.
He, however, disclosed that the North-central caucus of the PDP is resisting this arrangement on the ground that it was the same Wike and his group that brought Ayu in the first place.

 THISDAY learnt that the PDP leaders are concerned that the opposition party will die under the Tinubu presidency if not led by a person who can pull every member or group back into the fold and build a strong party.
A member of the NWC said that with the current situation of the party, which has left the national secretariat as a graveyard with no activity, the only solution is a reorganisation and reconciliation with somebody like Saraki at the helm of affairs.

“He has done it before. If given the chance and support, he can do it again”, THISDAY was told.
The source added that if Saraki accepts the offer, meetings of various organs of the party would be summoned to commence the process of getting a substantive national chairman in place.
Meanwhile, THISDAY also learnt that the former Senate President, Senator David Mark has also opted out of becoming the national chairman of the party.

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