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VP Slot: Ayu’s Fate Hanging As Crisis Over Okowa’s Selection Worsens

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) might be quietly courting a crisis of leadership, following the emergence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a northerner, as its 2023presidential candidate, while Dr. Iyorcha Ayu, another northerner, has remained the party’s national chairman.

However, the simmering crisis followed the ‘infamous agreement’ had before the emergence of a presidential candidate, that Ayu would resign as chairman once the party’s presidential candidate comes from the north.

Ayu is from Benue State in the North Central geopolitical zone, while Atiku is from Adamawa State, in the North East zone.

The party, it was gathered, was already polarised into two groups, one led by the National Secretary, Samuel Anyanwu, and the other by Ayu, respectively.

According to PDP members, who should know, the National Organising Secretary, Bature Umar, was said be loyal to the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Aminu Tambuwal, who nominated him.

The National Legal Adviser, Kamaldeen Ajibade (SAN), was said to be loyal to a former Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who nominated him. However, the organising secretary and the national legal adviser, that are the engine room of the party, and were loyal to the national chairman.

Anyanwu, who was said to be leading the other camp, was believed to have been nominated by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, whose camp was said not to be happy over the choice of the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa over Wike.

Another major point of disagreement was the need for Ayu to resign since Atiku, a northerner, emerged PDP presidential candidate. There is also the allegation of personalising the party and mismanagement of funds.

A party source said some members were not happy over release of funds.

Yet, a member of the National Working Committee (NWC), who pleaded anonymity, told THISDAY that, “even if Ayu is to resign because Atiku Abubakar is from the north, it has to be after the PDP has won the presidential election.

“For now, those agitating for his resignation are not fair. You don’t have to move from the known to the unknown. It is unknown because the outcome of the presidential election is not known,” it added.

Insiders were largely said to be angry with Ayu over the mismanagement of the PDP. For instance, that the party never raised any campaign team for the just concluded Ekiti State governorship election.

According to the PDP stakeholders, they expressed their anger that there was no funding for the Ekiti governorship election, except for the $100,000 handed over to the governorship candidate, Bisi Kolawole, who also returned the money back to the party.

Some of the stakeholders, have however accused Ayu of running the party as a personal state.

In a related development, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, has said Ayu remained the party’s national chairman

In a statement, Ologunagba said, “Such report is completely false and a product of the imagination of mischief makers with the intent to destabilise our party, create an impression of crisis within our ranks and mislead the unsuspecting members of the public.

“It is clear that the false report is the handiwork of vicious anti-people forces, who are agitated by the stability, unity and soaring popularity of our party under the cohesive Senator Dr. Ayu-led National Working Committee as well as the intimidating statures of our Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidates, His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar and His Excellency, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, respectively.

“For clarity, our National Chairman, Senator Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, is on a short vacation outside of the country and he officially transmitted power to the Deputy National Chairman (North), His Excellency Amb. Umar Iliya Damagum, to perform his duties in acting capacity, pending his return, in line with the provision of the Constitution of the PDP 2017 (as amended), ” he stated.

The PDP spokesman said it was instructive to state that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was duly informed on the absence of Ayu and that Damagun would be performing his duties in acting capacity pending Ayu’s return.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP and the NWC are united and Senator Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, remains the National Chairman,” he reiterated, even as he urged all members of the party, “our teeming supporters, the media and the general public to disregard the said report as FAKE NEWS.”

However, indication emerged that all was not well in the party which led to only two out of the 13 governors of the party being present when the National Working Committee (NWC) inaugurated the Osun governorship campaign council on Wednesday.

The two are Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Darius Ishaku (Taraba).

A 128-member council was named for the governorship election of the state. Ten governors who are members of the party are on the committee.

Inaugurating the council, the acting National Chairman of the party, Amb. Umar Damagum, said the sole mandate of the council was to win the Osun State governorship election, adding that “Osun is key to our presidential election.”

“So I believe with the calibre of people in this committee, I’m sure Osun will become ours. You will make a lot of sacrifices for the task ahead of you; engage stakeholders that are aggrieved,” he said.

Also speaking, Okowa urged party leaders and members in the state to work together to sack APC in the state.

He said APC “is already in disarray but that is not enough for us to go to sleep.”

As a further sign that all is not well with the main opposition party, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, while speaking on Arise TV on Wednesday, also said he was among the 17-member committee set up by Atiku Abubakar to recommend a running mate for him.

“Fourteen of us in the committee said the person should be Nyesom Wike unfortunately Atiku picked Okowa in his wisdom,” he said.

Ortom, who is also from Benue State, stressed that the presidential candidate was not doing enough to bring the party together.

He said, “You cannot ignore a decision of a committee you set up yourself and expect people to be happy,” adding that he is presently “in hibernation and praying.”

Asked if he would support Atiku, Ortom said, “When I finish the prayers and whatever God directs me, I will do.”

“Atiku should go to him (Wike) and speak with him on the way forward. Wike is a pillar in the party. Currently, nobody has contributed more for the party to move it forward than Wike.

“If Atiku was not going to honour the decision of the committee, he should have called Wike earlier and informed him. He didn’t do that. You can’t do things anyhow and expect us to be happy.”

Similarly, a former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, has insisted that power must return to the South in 2023

Fayose in recent posts on his official Twitter handle opined that the PDP Constitution provides for a rotational presidency.

Fayose said Section 3(c) of the party’s constitution provides that the party shall pursue its aims and objectives by adhering to the policy of the rotation and zoning of Party and Public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity,justice and fairness. In apparent reference to Tinubu’s “emi lokan” slogan, Fayose also said “Awa ‘South’ lo kan”, which loosely translated as ‘it is the turn of the South’.

“The current President of Nigeria is a 2-term Northern Presidency, thus implying that it must be a Southern Presidency in 2023 or nothing. Awa ‘South’ lo kan’. Nigerians should await details soon,” he posted.

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