Ever since the conclusion of the primary elections of Nigeria’s leading opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), on the 28th of May 2022, the party leadership has been thrown into disarray as party heavyweights battle a conflict of interests.
Former vice president Atiku Abubakar emerged the flag bearer of the PDP presidential ticket after scoring 371 votes and beating his closest rival, incumbent Governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike who scored 237 votes. The PDP has since the conclusion of its primary elections struggled to foster unity in its administrative quarters.
Nyesom Wike, since his loss at the primaries, has had a falling out with Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate for the 2023 general elections, the incumbent governor of Delta state and running mate of Atiku Abubakar, Ifeanyi Okowa, and a few other high-ranking members of the PDP. All these issues have however seemed to be resolved to leave one issue lingering, the office of the chairman of the party.
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Governor Nyesom Wike has insisted on the resignation of the current national chairman of the PDP, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, based on the word that Ayu himself gave before the primaries that should a northern candidate emerge from the primaries he would step down as national chairman of the party. Governor Wike has argued that to promote integrity and fairness, Ayu must keep to his word and step down as chairman.
Wike does not stand alone; elder statesman and former PDP deputy chairman, Chief Bode George has also called on the PDP national chairman to resign in order to promote fairness and equity.
Speaking to journalists on Arise News’ flagship Morning show, Chief Bode George highlighted that apart from Iyorchia Ayu’s earlier pledge to resign, his resignation is pertinent to ensuring a sense of inclusivity in the PDP.
He went on further to explain that the resignation of the current PDP chairman was necessary to quell existing tensions and rifts between leaders of the party and create a united front heading into the election year 2023.
Dr. Iyorchia Ayu however seems to be unperturbed by these calls. He has turned a deaf ear to the voices of party leaders and elders to resign. Instead, he has doubled down on his insistence to remain PDP national chairman; calling Wike and some of his colleagues’ “children” who were not there when the PDP was formed in 1998, and therefore do not understand the workings of the party.
Wike in his usual fashion responded to the PDP chairman. Speaking during the inauguration of internal roads constructed by the Rivers State Government at Omerelu, Ikwerre Local Government Area, Wike berated Ayu over his comments. He said: “Ayu said we are children. Yes, the children brought you to be chairman of the party. The children brought you from the gutter and made you chairman. Ayu, you were impeached as Senate president. Ayu, you were sacked by Olusegun Obasanjo in his administration two times.
“Arrogance cannot take you anywhere”. Governor Wike went as far as referring to Ayu as a “prodigal father”.
With the worsening crisis in the party, some stakeholders have expressed fears that the PDP risks losing a bulk of votes from the southwest. But the PDP still insists that despite its internal wranglings, it remains solid and united in its quest to save Nigerians from the course of doom the APC-led administration has the nation plying currently.
A National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the PDP is very likely to hold next week, a party source said. The NEC meeting is meant to ratify the list of campaign council members lay to bed the current leadership tussles of the PDP.