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• Alleges Ayu Collected N1b Bribe To Stop His Presidential Bid
• Abia PDP Chapter Backs Rivers Gov.
• Former BoT Chairman, Others Sue For Peace
• It’s Time To Move On, Says Atiku’s Spokesperson
• APC, PDP In Battle Of Wits Over Crisis

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has dared the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to suspend him and face the consequences if the party feels he is not fighting for justice, equity and fairness.

The governor equally accused the National Chairman of the party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, of obtaining the sum of N1 billion in the guise of funding the party but never remitted the money to the party’s account, insisting on the resignation of the national chairman.

He emphasised that the PDP boxed itself into its current quagmire, noting that to disentangle itself, the remedies would include making sacrifices that engender inclusivity.

Wike made his position known in Port Harcourt during a live media chat yesterday.

However, the spokesman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, has restated that calls for Ayu’s resignation were ill-timed considering the closeness of next year’s general election.

Responding to a question on what he would do if the party decides to discipline him following his actions, Wike noted that the party knew what he could do if they taunt him, daring the party leadership to make haste and sanction him.

His words: “Sanction! Who will suspend me? Which party? No problem. What do you think is our job here? Our job is not only politics.”

When reminded that the PDP leadership had said that nobody was bigger than the party, Wike swiftly added: “I am not saying that is bigger than the party, but those who are not in the party or mean well for the party cannot suspend me from the party. I beg them; they should not waste time. They should come and suspend me, then anything you see, you take.

“They know what I will do, pikin wey say em mama no go sleep, will he sleep? If you don’t allow us to sleep, them too dey no go sleep.”

He insisted that following the emergence of Atiku as the presidential candidate of the party, something must be sacrificed, alleging that bribes played out and the party’s constitution breached just to scuttle his chances at the May 28/29 convention in Abuja.

“Because of what we have caused ourselves by the emergence of the presidential candidate of our party, therefore, something must give way for us to move forward. Simple thing is to make sacrifices and let the party move forward. What we are asking is for the resignation of the National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu and not his removal. Removal is a different thing,” Wike said.

He noted that Nigerians were tired of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government due to bad leadership, saying the PDP was at advantage to win the 2023 elections. He, however, said that would not in any way translate to the marginalisation of the southern part of the country in the party.

The governor warned PDP not to toy with the opportunity it has to win next year’s presidential election, urging the leadership to promptly address the internal crisis rocking the party or bear the consequences.

“Nigerians are not happy with APC and you don’t want to do the right thing to get their hearts? We believe that APC has not done well. If Atiku wants to take over power with what he is doing, he is scaring Nigerians. That’s why we are saying, don’t scare Nigerians, make the sacrifice, do the needful so that the people will believe you and you get their support.

“I warn them not to allow this opportunity to slip away. If they allow this opportunity to go, they will pay dearly for it. For me, everything must be done to make sure the right thing is done to get the support of Nigerians. But if you said no, then so be it,” Wike stated.

Asked if Atiku could become President without him, he said: “If God decides that he becomes the president, there is nothing we can do about it. But for us as men, we don’t know what God is thinking.”

He, however, maintained that it would be impossible to win the presidential election without the support of Rivers, Lagos and Kano states.

The governor revealed that those causing crisis in the party were people who didn’t have electoral value in their states, adding, “I know those doing this, causing crisis; they don’t have electoral value in their own units. Some of them are from Edo State. President Muhammadu Buhari didn’t win Rivers State, but he won in Lagos and Kano. Does Atiku have friends? The only thing he has is liberty and you said you don’t want the people from these states, no wahala.”

Wike alleged that the national chairman, having jettisoned the constitution of the party, was refusing to resign, because of his ambition to be appointed Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF) if Atiku wins. He further alleged that the party had already shared offices ahead of the 2023 elections.

The governor boasted that the party could not do without him and his team, stating that the leadership knew what to do if they want them.

“If you need us, you know what to do, but if you say you don’t need us, no problem. We are not calling for Ayu’s removal, because he committed a crime but what we are kicking against is marginalisation. The Southern region is marginalised in our party.

“Ayu is very corrupt. Ayu collected N1 billion from a certain PDP aspirant in Lagos State to work against me. I challenge the national chairman to deny this, then I will open up on how the money was paid, the businessmen that contributed the money,” he added.

He insisted that Ayu worked round the clock to ensure that he didn’t emerge as the presidential candidate by mounting pressure on other aspirants to step down, adding that Ayu vowed to resign if he (Wike) won.

“The national chairman threatened that he would resign from his position if Governor Wike wins the presidential primaries,” he alleged.

Wike added that he was still angry with the former Senate President, Senator David Mark for scuttling his chances of emerging as the presidential candidate during the convention.

He pointed out that it was wrong for Mark, who served as the chairman of the Convention Committee, to have allowed Sokoto State Governor and a co-contestant, Aminu Tambuwal, to speak twice at the convention.

He revealed that he was well aware of the underground moves of the Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, to become the vice presidential candidate of the party in the 2023 elections.

“That he (Atiku) was going to run with Okowa, that Okowa supported him, we were all aware. It is not that we didn’t see. Take for instance, the United States of America. (Joe) Biden ran and the current vice president of America, Kamala Harris, gave Biden serious problem. When they wanted to pick the vice president, Biden said, ‘this woman gave me serious problem, I cannot pick this woman.’ But those in Biden’s camp, who meant well for him, told him, ‘if you want to win this election, you must pick Kamala Harris.’ And look at the support (for Biden) today.”

Speaking during a television programme, yesterday, the spokesman of the PDP presidential council, Aniagwu, said those calling for Ayu’s removal based on equity and justice were not wrong, but appealed to them to look at the bigger picture, as the period was too close to the general election.

He said though Ayu never denied agreeing to quit if a presidential candidate emerged from the North, it would only happen if the party wins the presidential election.

He stated: “The national chairman was clear when he said if the party asks him to quit, he will. The party did not make that request; the NEC passed a vote of confidence on the NWC.

“Ayu has never denied what he said, but let us look at what he said and the laws of the party. Let us always think of the country first and not about the North and South that tend to divide us.

“In 2006, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was President and Ahmadu Ali was national chairman. The primary was conducted and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (of blessed memory) emerged presidential candidate of the party.

“Ali prosecuted that election and Yar’Adua became president before the party held a convention to bring in somebody from the South, and nobody asked Ali to leave because a presidential candidate had emerged from the North.

“When Goodluck Jonathan became President after the death of Yar’Adua, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor remained national chairman of the party until it was time for another election.

“These are tenured offices and the issue of zoning is only in the offices and positions. The position of a presidential candidate is not an office; it only becomes an office after winning the election.”

Aniagwu said the presidential candidate was not opposed to Ayu stepping down, but it should be done after the general election, adding: “The difference between what we are saying and what Governor Nyesom Wike and his group are saying is the timeline.”

Meanwhile, a source in the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, who pleaded anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issues at play, also said: “We are of the strong view that this is an uncharitable comment by a supposedly top member of the party, and obviously an elevated falsehood raised to put the presidential candidate in a bad light.

“In all his political life, there is no evidence so far that Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, has in his actions or pronouncements, portrayed himself as an unworthy and unreliable political leader. He distances himself from disreputable actions and embraces the noble values that could propel our country to decency and greatness.

“This is what is responsible for his political activities: to be given an opportunity to contribute to the greatness of the nation and help advance the potentials of the country and its teeming youthful population. The Waziri Adamawa remains a man of deep conviction, honesty and integrity.

“Governor Wike says he is fighting for fairness, justice and equity. But in the pursuit of all that, the government assumes the state and the entire South of the country. With all sincerity and as a party faithful which he claims to be, he should stop fighting a war that does not exist. It is also important to dispel the impressions that may have been created during the interview that key political positions have been shared.

“Yes, politics is about negotiations and more negotiations to reach a consensus and, sometimes, even compromise; it is a futile exercise for positions to be shared when an electoral victory has not been secured. We appeal to Governor Wike that Nigeria is in desperate need of visionary leaders to rescue and redeem the nation from this wrecking administration. This is not the time to pull punches and settle scores, particularly when they do not exist, but a time to combine strength and efforts to lift our people from nearly eight years of sustained pain and despondency. It is our prayer that God will rescue the country through PDP.”

Former Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin, also urged all leaders and stakeholders of the party to sheathe their swords and work together for the victory of the presidential flag bearer in the 2023 general election.

Jibrin, who asked members of the party not to allow personal interests to override PDP interests, said that he had put his resignation as the BoT Chairman behind him, and was working towards ensuring that the party wins the presidential election.

In a statement in Kaduna, yesterday, Jibrin urged all PDP members and all Nigerians “to come and vote for Atiku.”

Nevertheless, protests for the removal of the national chairman rocked the Kaduna State Secretariat of the party yesterday.

The protest was staged around midday in front of the secretariat situated opposite the NDA bus stop in Kaduna.

The protesters, who could not gain entrance into the Secretariat, displayed “Ayu Must Go” placards as they stood in front of the building.

The Abia State chapter of the party also threw their weight behind Wike’s demand for Ayu’s resignation yesterday, saying it would pave way for a southern successor and national balance in the national executives.

The Abia PDP in a press release issued by its Vice Chairman/Acting Publicity Secretary, Elder Abraham Amah, however, stated that it was solidly behind Atiku as the presidential candidate of the party despite the withdrawal of some members from the Campaign Council.

But it urged Atiku “to constructively engage the gladiators, especially the national chairman of our great party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu and prevail upon him to do the needful and quietly relinquish his position in the interest of justice, equity, peace, unity and stability of our great party.”

A former presidential aspirant on the platform of the party, Dr Nwachukwu Anakwenze, also appealed to Ayu to save the party by stepping aside from office.

He urged the PDP chairman to make the sacrifice if that would be the only condition to prevent the party from breaking apart.

Anakwenze made the appeal in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja yesterday by the Director General of his Campaign Organisation, Eric Oluwole.

Anakwenze, who described Ayu, as an eminent elder statesman of no mean status, observed that there was no sacrifice too big to make in the overall interest of the party and the country.

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council, yesterday, stated that with the crisis rocking the PDP, Atiku’s latest bid to become Nigeria’s president in 2023 has hit the rocks.

Director, Media and Publicity of the council, Mr Bayo Onanuga, said this in a statement in Abuja.

He stated by the development, Atiku deserved to be pitied, as his yet another bid for the country’s presidency was slipping away.

His words: “This is unravelling before our very eyes even before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) blows the whistle for electioneering campaign, his party, the PDP is in disarray.

“The signs are just too ominous for the Waziri, especially with the report by the Economic Intelligence Unit predicting another trashing for him in the forthcoming polls.”

This, he said, was after Atiku’s party’s code for power rotation between the North and South was violated and after he grabbed the PDP presidential ticket without a modicum of sensibilities about national ethos.

According to Onanuga, Atiku was faced with the karma of his inordinate ambition, adding that the PDP has imploded in a battle of attrition, the result of which is predictable.

He said that the ongoing fratricidal war where a faction of the party led by Wike was engaging Atiku in a fight to finish has undermined any momentum he had hoped to build.

This, Onanuga said, was with further loss of confidence in the PDP by its own members who could not find any redeeming feature in the fast disappearing party.

“It is crystal clear that Atiku’s latest bid for Nigeria’s top job has hit the rocks, a pillar of Atiku’s campaign is the claim of being a unifier and nationalist.

“That bogus claim has now been discredited, even within his party, as the disaffected members cry for justice and inclusivity.

“Instead of the perennially running and perennially failing candidate to offer them some sop, he has rebuffed them, pleading that he could not grant their request for justice.

“Surely a man who cannot resolve a genuine dispute among his party members, who cannot forge an entente among them, cannot be expected to unify our country,” Onanuga said.

He added that instead of being a unifier, Atiku has become a divider-in-chief, adding that his campaign, on this score, was heading for a stillbirth just as some of his programmes had been found to be nothing new.

In his reaction, Atiku charged the APC to face its internal issues instead of jumping into the internal affairs of the PDP.

A statement released by his media adviser, Paul Ibe, expressed disgust about the manner in which the APC Presidential Campaign Council intruded into issues pertaining to developments within the PDP describing it as “a laughable work of an interloper.”

The statement reads in part: “The release is disingenuous because it lacks any merit of a reasonable, intellectual riposte. Rather, it exposes the APC and its presidential candidate as a bunch of busybodies, who rather than focus on the burden of credibility that continues to dog their campaign, are poking their nose into minor internal issues of the PDP.

“Well, since the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation seems to have woken up from their state of hibernation, it is good to remind them that there are pending questions about the social and educational history of their candidate that Nigerians want answers to.”

Atiku further said he would be “kind enough to remind the APC that when, in the next few days, campaigns begin in earnest, Nigerians will require answers to some weighty character questions about their candidate and, rather than expend precious time on what is never their business, should use the remaining few days judiciously.”

He added: “Secondly, whatever is happening in the PDP is a conversation among leaders of the party and that, in itself, is a reflection of the PDP, as a living and engaging political party. The conversation in the PDP is all about consensus building, which in itself is a major ingredient for peace and unity.”

According to Atiku, “the PDP, as a truly democratic party, understands that democracy is a lively concept because it allows for people to express their opinions and, it is within that understanding that everyone becomes part of the process.”

He stated that the same could not be said of the APC, adding that what exists in the ruling party was at best graveyard peace.

“It is on record that in the seven years and more that the APC has been in power and with the attendant hardship that the party has foisted on the ordinary people of Nigeria, the candidate of the APC, former governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu had not for one single time stood on the side of the people.

“It is important to let Tinubu and his paid agents know that what obtains in the PDP is not the mundane stoicism that the APC is known for. Indeed, the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar has established credibility before the masses of this country that he is one patriot who can be counted on to stand by the side of the people – even when the times are hard,” he said.

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