By Ori Martins
The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is still not nearing to an end as the man at the centre of it all, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, refused to bulge from his demand which is the sack of the national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayo. Contrary to his desires, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of PDP never made any move towards discussing anything concerning the chairman’s exit.
What really demonstrated that all is not well with the main opposition party in the land was when it was discovered that only six out of the PDP’s 13 governors attended the meeting. Also the resignation of Senator Walid Jubril as Board of Trustees, BOT, chairman, who had raised the issue of equity and fairness in the structure of party positions, proved to be water on a stone.
As a way of placating Wike, the PDP’s NEC did its home work very well by urging Alhaji Walid Jibrin to step down as chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT). A NEC member who attended the meeting confirmed why the body took such decision. According to him, “If you can remember very well, Governor Wike has been shouting it aloud that everything in PDP has gone to the north.
“In fact, his biggest fight against the party as we talk now is that Ayu must go. He insists that it is not a good arrangement that the chairman of the party is a northerner, the presidential candidate is a northerner, the chairman of the Governors Forum is a northerner and the chairman, BoT, is also a northerner.
“To break the ice, we got across to Alhaji Jibrin to step down, a very patriotic Nigerian and sincere party man, he did exactly that. We therefore appointed a new BoT chairman, Senator Adolphus Wabara, from Abia South in South East. It is in line with Wike’s demands of carrying all the zones along.
“Now, we are still going to meet and discuss the issue of the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum with the view of taking it outside the north. We did this to effectively have a national spread covering all the six geo political regions; and at the same time pacify Wike.
“Yet, Wike still maintained his stand that Ayu must go or nothing”, the resource person who does not want his name in print stated. He noted that Wike described Jibrin’s resignation as a charade and vowed to return to the trenches. After this interview, the chairman of PDP Governors’ forum, Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state, resigned his position, following his appointment as Director General, Atiku Campaign organization, with Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo state, as new chairman.
Leaders of PDP are really very sad that Governor Wike did not feel pacified with the resignation of the BoT chairman as he still insisted that Ayu must step down as chairman, notwithstanding the resignation of Jibril.. Explaining why he stepped down, Jibrin said;
“All we want to make sure is that Atiku becomes the president of Nigeria. That is why I decided that me Senator Walid Jibrin, I am stepping down from the BoT. And I discussed this with the candidate and the candidate agrees with me. If the party wins I will be given a bigger position.”
In his response about Jibrin’s resignation, Wike’s answers clearly showed he was not satisfied with what actually transpired.
“Who is talking about that? Do you want me to accept that the candidate and the chairman should come from the same place? I asked them to tell me the truth and they said no. I don’t like people when you are talking they will say ‘interest of Nigerians’. Who defines the interest of Nigerians, you? You that refused to obey the constitution of their party, are you speaking in the interest of Nigerians? This fight we will fight it to the end”.
The Rivers governor noted that what he is fighting for was nothing but equity, justice and fairness. He proclaimed it once more that having produced the presidential candidate of the party, the north should as a matter of equity, fairness and justice, relinquish the position of the party’s chairmanship.
“Some of you don’t know what is happening. You are being deceived; they are telling you Wike is causing problem. Wike is not causing problem; Wike is bringing peace to the country. Wike is advocating for justice, Wike is advocating for equity, and Wike is advocating for fairness”.
Wike reiterated his earlier observations that the present arrangement in the PDP was not fair to the south, especially when decisions are to be taken. He still remarked that the resignation of the BoT chairman is nothing but a distraction. Wike continued;
“Ayu said if the presidential candidate comes from the north, that he will resign after the convention of our party, and that the chairman of our party will come from the south. When the north central leaders met in the house of Bala Mohammed, governor of Bauchi State, he said so there.
“When he met the caucus of the senate, he told them that. Now, when we finished our convention on Sunday, the candidate of the party came to see me in my house in Abuja on Monday around 10:30 am. The candidate told me I want us to work together, and then he said, look, Ayu must go. I said why? He said because when a candidate comes from the north, the chairman will come from the south.”
He added; “And I’m saying implement what you told me. What offence have I committed? It is nothing to do with Wike. It has to do with integrity. This is what he told me. I challenge the presidential candidate to deny this. If he denies it, I will go further to say so many things to Nigerians because enough is enough. We can’t continue this way.”
Wike, ever ready to fight back on all who make any comment to disparage him, no matter how little, has descended heavily on former governor of Niger State, Alhaji Aliyu Babangida, for, as Wike claims, “blackmailing him in the media”. This confirms that Wike is not ready to shift a hoot as far as resolving the PDP crisis is concerned.
Ignoring the issue at hand and claiming to be educating those who do not understand the processes and proceedings of party politics – a major reason he is fighting the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his supporters, Wike took a swipe on the former Niger State chief executive
“The problem is that most of you do not understand how party functions, let me educate you. We have finished the presidential primary. It is over and it is over. Some people said you want to destroy the party because you didn’t win the primary. I think you are sick. They have some mental problem. We have done with the presidential primaries and it is over”.
Making a veiled remark about Aliyu Babangida, Wike said; “What an insult. This is the same man, who came out on television and said they, governors from the north, agreed to fail Jonathan in 2015 because it was the turn of the North, and agreed to make sure PDP failed the election because they felt it was their own turn to produce the president. That was what he said. That is the man saying I want to destroy the party because I didn’t win the primary.
“For Christ sake, in a contest, there must be a winner and a loser. I have no regret. We contested the election very well. And we’re not ashamed. If Aliyu was important, he should have come and pick form, let us deal with him.
“As a serving governor, he couldn’t win senatorial election. You could imagine me going to pick senatorial election and do not win the election. That means something is fundamentally wrong with me. That means I have never performed as a serving governor. That is a vote of no confidence. governor bye-bye; you didn’t do well.
“And that is the man PDP is bringing to the television to campaign for PDP. Ask him, when he was a governor, what was his legacy project? How many people from this country came to commission project. Ask him. Babangida, show me your report card when you were governor of Niger State.
“I have been to Niger State, and I asked people, when this man was governor show me what he has done. Nothing. That is the man that would come to national television to tell Nigerians who to vote for. So, how can you recommend us who to vote, while when you were there, you could not perform?
“We are talking about how you said, if the presidential candidate comes from the north, you will resign. And by the convention of our party, the national chairman of the will come from the south”.
The PDP is certainly at a crossroads now because, from all indications, Ayu is neither going to resign, nor the NEC sacking him. On the other hand, Wike is not ready to blink. His slogan has been, “Ayu must go”.
The PDP leaders have met Wike to back down, he snubbed them. Atiku has had closed doors meeting with him, there was no dice. PDP governors even pleaded with him, Wike called their bluff. A special reconciliation meeting had also met with the Rivers State governor but it was deadlocked. And lastly, the PDP governorship candidates had ear-to-ear meeting with Wike, yet nothing good came out of it.
Instead Wike is saying he will deal with anyone who crosses his path. Indeed, the die is cast. The smoke in PDP’s firewood still smoulders furiously.Time will tell if the party can still gather itself together before February 25, 2023 presidential election.