By Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation and Emmanuel Badejo
- Tambuwal’s choice as campaign DG deepens split
- Atiku sends Fayose to pacify Rivers governor
- More Southwest states oppose calls for Ayu’s removal
The peace talks between the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike have finally broken down, multiple party sources said yesterday.
The collapse of the reconciliation moves was sealed with the appointment of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as the Director General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council.
It is also clear that only Oyo State chapter of the PDP remains committed to the agitation for the resignation of Dr. Iyorchia Ayu as national chairman of the party following categorical statements by party officials in Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo and Oyo states that they are for Atiku and Ayu.
Although Atiku picked Wike and some of the governor’s allies as members of the presidential campaign council, the Wike camp yesterday decided to draw the battle line by opting not to play any key role in the party’s campaign.
The parties are allowed, under the regulations issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to commence their campaigns on Wednesday, September 28.
It was learnt that Wike’s camp has started weighing its options on its next line of action.
As a first step, it is seeking to stop Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde from accepting to be part of the Atiku campaign to enable him face his reelection bid.
One source told The Nation that on his part, Atiku is yet to give up on winning over Wike.
The PDP flag bearer, it was gathered, sent ex-Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose to Wike and his team recently to “forgive and forget” whatever might have caused their feud.
Fayose was reportedly rebuffed by some loyalists and strategists of Wike.
The alleged penetration of Fayose was seen by Atiku’s group as a breakthrough to break Wike’s camp.
A Northern governor, who has been with Wike all along, is now believed to have perfected plans to shift to Atiku’s group soon.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that Wike, who visited Abuja on Friday, had a session with some of his backers.
It was agreed that Atiku was yet to meet the minimum conditions for reconciliation with Wike.
Read Also: PDP: What next from Wike’s stable?
Findings showed that Wike’s camp was angry because of the following:
*Atiku’s foreclosure of the removal of the National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, on the pages of newspapers without putting Wike’s camp in confidence.
*Refusal of Atiku to get back to Wike’s camp on his position after his three-man team met with the governor’s representatives in Port Harcourt.
*Lack of inclusion of the South in the affairs of PDP.
*The alleged cosmetic choice of a former President of the Senate, Adolphus Wabara, as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of PDP.
*Wike’s camp felt insulted by the appointment of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as the Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council.
A top source in Wike’s camp said: “The appointment of Tambuwal (another Northerner) as the campaign DG has sent a message that Atiku doesn’t want inclusion in the party.
“The PDP candidate wants to go it alone. He is saying that our camp is insignificant. The poll outcome will determine his assumption.
“We feel that Atiku has drawn the battle line but we will wait for the leaders of the group to decide. We are weighing many options. We wish him well.
Responding to a question, the source added: “Atiku made another desperate effort in the week when he sent Fayose to speak with Wike’s camp.
*He gave Fayose the mandate in Ibadan but we smelt a rat. We rebuffed Fayose’s overtures because Atiku was trying to break Wike’s ranks.
“We know we have two characters in our camp. One governor is the weakest link and another member is unstable. We will overcome any obstacle to prove to Atiku that we are not children.”
As at press time, it was gathered that Wike’s camp was seeking to prevail on Governor Makinde to steer clear of the PDP PCC because of his re-election bid.
Another source added: “Makinde’s choice was designed to pacify Wike’s camp, but it is a booby trap because it will distract him from his second term campaign.
“Also, in the history of election in Nigeria, first term governors or political office holders usually appointed as Campaign DG often lose second term ticket.
“We have advised Makinde to reject the offer and concentrate on winning the election for his second term. It is left to him to accept or reject the advice.”
PDP spokesmen oppose calls for Ayu’s resignation
Publicity secretaries of the PDP in Lagos, Ekiti, Ondo and Ogun states yesterday expressed opposition to calls for Ayu’s resignation as national chairman of the party.
Hameed Amode (Lagos); Raphael Adeyanju (Ekiti); Kennedy Peretei (Ondo) and Bankole Akinloye (Ogun) said during a joint press conference in Lagos that the agitation for Ayu to quit at this time was not good for the party.
Their position came on the heels of the rejection of the Ayu-Must-Go campaign by the Osun, Ogun and Ondo State chapters of the party.
The anti-Ayu group in the South West is led by Makinde and former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George, both of whom reiterated their positions during the week.
According to them, the only way the PDP can show that it stands for justice and equity is to concede the position of national chairmanship to a southerner immediately.
But the party’s publicity secretaries in Lagos, Ondo, Ekiti and Ogun states said yesterday that calls for Ayu’s resignation were an attempt to sabotage the chances of the party and Atiku to win the coming presidential election.
Speaking on their behalf, Peretei said: “On behalf of the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) State Chapters in Ondo, Osun, Ogun, Ekiti and Lagos states, we the publicity secretaries in these states respectively dissociate ourselves from calls for the resignation of Dr. Iyorchia Ayu as PDP National Chairman.
“We wish to affirm our faithfulness to the PDP constitution which clearly stipulates procedure for leadership election and removal.
“As the only political party that has not changed name or logo since its establishment in1998, the party cannot afford to appear unserious.
“We do not see any justification for the resignation of our National Chairman, especially at this very critical stage of preparation for elections.
“Dr Iyorchia Ayu was duly elected at a properly constituted National Convention with a four-year mandate and recently received vote of confidence of the party’s National Executive Committee at its 97th meeting in Abuja.
“Our party has championed the sanctity of the PDP Constitution (2017 as amended). We must therefore do everything to maintain this sanctity.
“Any action that undermines the spirit of the party’s constitution at this crucial stage can only be considered as a deliberate attempt to sabotage the party’s efforts at winning in the coming general elections.
“We appeal to the leadership of our party in the Southwest region to work together to respect the Constitution of our party, because if we cannot respect our own rules, guidelines and constitution as a party, how will Nigerians trust us to respect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when voted into office?
“The concern of our zonal leaders and their determination to protect the interest of our members against any form of marginalisation is deeply appreciated.
“However, our focus should be directed mainly to encouraging our teeming members to rally round our candidates vying for the Houses of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate and governorship positions and ensure that they win elections.
“The leadership of the party in the aforementioned states pledge our unwavering support and unalloyed commitment to our presidential candidate, former Vice President of Nigeria, His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his running mate, His Excellency, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.
“The mission to rescue, rebuild and redirect Nigeria is a task that must done to save our country from imminent total collapse.”