IBADAN – It became obvious that the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is far from abating as the call for its national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, to resign resonated yesterday at the South-West PDP stakeholders meeting.
This is coming one week after it seemed Ayu had survived moves to remove him from office following the vote of confidence passed on him and the National Working Committee (NWC) by the 97th national executive committee (NEC) of the major opposition party.
But like a phoenix, the push for Ayu’s removal got a fresh life of its own yesterday when Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, insisted that Ayu must resign as PDP national chairman.
In response, presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, said Ayu can only be removed through the amendment of the party’s constitution.
Speaking in Ibadan, Oyo State, during the South West PDP stakeholders meeting, the former vice president maintained that the resignation of Ayu was achievable only if the party’s constitution was amended.
According to the provisions of the party’s constitution, if Ayu is relieved of his job, it is the deputy national chairman from the North East, Damagum, who will succeed him.
Makinde, a key member of the aggrieved PDP governors, had reiterated the call for Ayu’s resignation, saying it is the only way the people of the South would feel a sense of belonging in the party.
Apart from Makinde, governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Samuel Ortom (Benue); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), had insisted on the resignation of Ayu as key condition for reconciliation.
The governors had been tackling the PDP over the national chairman of the party and the presidential candidate who are both from the North.
The governors had made the request to Atiku in London a few weeks before the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC) passed a vote of confidence on Ayu last Thursday.
In spite of the NEC declaration and the emergence of PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) chairman from the South, Senator Adolphus Wabara (after Sen Walid Jibrin from the North resigned), the protesting governors stood their ground on Ayu’s exit.
Confirming their position yesterday, Makinde, while speaking at the South-West PDP stakeholders meeting said, “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”.
Makinde who described Atiku as “the incoming president of Nigeria in 2023 noted: “We are supposed to give hope to our people, we want them to listen to us. Our party wants to rescue Nigeria and our candidate is a unifier. He wants to restructure Nigeria.
“Eight years of the All Progressives Congress(PDP) 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 a resounding yes.
“The message from the South-West PDP is that 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.”
Reacting, Atiku who acknowledged that the resignation of the party’s national chairman is achievable however said it can only be done through an amendment of the PDP constitution.
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 the South West except for Lagos State. I don’t want us to lose focus. The focus is how to win the 2023 elections. I know that we are capable, we can do that”.
Earlier Atiku, his running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta; Governor Makinde and relevant stakeholders had held a marathon closed door meeting.
It was gathered that the meeting was summoned by Atiku to resolve differences in various camps.
Also, the issue of the calls for the resignation of the national chairman Iyorcha Ayu was tabled and addressed at the meeting.
Makinde who took over the hosting right of the event from the former deputy governor of Oyo state, Barrister Hazeem Gbolarumi, had agreed to lead Atiku presidential campaign in the South West.
It was gathered that the development had created tension in the camp ofRivers State governor, Nyesom Wike.
The South West stakeholders’ interactive session was attended by leaders of the PDP across the six states of the geopolitical zone with a common resolution to ensure victory for the PDP in next year’s general election.
Other PDP leaders who attended the interactive session included governorship candidate of the PDP in Ogun State, Chief Ladi Adebutu, former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose; Osun State governor-elect, Senator Demola Adeleke; the governorship candidate of the PDP in Lagos State, Olajide Adediran, and deputy governorship candidate of the PDP in Lagos State, Funke Akindele.
Others are chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum and Governor of Sokoto State, Rt. Hon. Aminu Bello Tambuwal; former Governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke; Deputy National Chairman of the PDP (North), Umar Damagum and national deputy chairman of the PDP (South) Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, among other stakeholders from the Southwest.
Meanwhile, the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) met with Governor Ikpeazu in Abia State as part of their reconciliation efforts.
They met the governor who is a staunch ally of Wike in the call for Ayu’s sack.