Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers State, retaliated against Iyorchia Ayu, the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), by accusing him of acting ungratefully and arrogantly after receiving support to become the party’s leader.
NewsReport that yesterday, during the opening of the Omerelu Internal Roads in the Ikwerre Local Government Area, Wike tasked Ayu with demonstrating his honour by keeping his promise to resign as party chairman if the party’s presidential candidate came from the north.
Ayu had recently said he would not step down, saying those calling for his removal were children when the party was formed.
But Wike, who took exemption to Ayu’s remarks said the party helmsman has displayed the highest level of ingratitude by his utterance. He said Ayu lacked integrity for not keeping to his words before he emerged as chairman and warned Nigerians to be careful of a party, which cannot keep to its promises.
Describing Ayu as arrogant, the governor alleged the PDP chair was fixated on the N14 billion the PDP raised during primaries and desired to be the manager of the money.
He said those Ayu addressed as boys would teach him a lesson saying, “election is not always the way you look at it. Somebody said those who said the right thing must be done are boys, that they are children. You can imagine what power can do. You can imagine how ingratitude, how people can be ingrates. I thought as a chairman of a party who wants to win the election, your business is to bring peace to the party and not to divide your party, your business is not to show arrogance.
“Dr. Ayu said we are children. Yes, the children brought you to be chairman of the party, the children brought you from the gutter to make you chairman. Ayu, you were impeached as Senate President, you were sacked by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in his administration two times. Arrogance cannot take you anywhere. We brought you from nothing and made you chairman. You said you founded the party, yet you left the party in 2007. You founded the company and left the company and people stood firm and ensured the company is what it is today. You have no moral right to still come and claim that you founded the party because you left with your shares and other shareholders have come in,” Wike said.
On the crisis, former deputy national chairman, Bode George, who was guest at the event in Rivers, said the utterances of Ayu showed he was immature.
“When a serving national chairman of our party is calling elected governors that they are children does he think that children don’t grow? Or there is a life perpetual on him? We need to watch our language. It shows to me that it is him who is immature. The issue of the national chairman of the party must be addressed before the commencement of the campaigns. The national chairman of the PDP must go to the South. If Iyorchia Ayu has remained in the party all along, he wouldn’t be making such unfortunate statements,” George said.
•To dump or not?
Three weeks to the commencement of campaigns, Atiku is in a dilemma over the uncompromising attitude of the Rivers State governor.
The Turaki Adamawa is disturbed that Wike has refused to shift grounds on his insistence that the national chairman resign and handover to a southerner before the elections.
A highly placed member of the PDP told Daily Sun that Atiku is increasingly becoming frustrated by the uncompromising attitude of the Rivers governor on Ayu and the tension it is generating in the party.
He, however, said being a veteran politician, the presidential candidate is reluctant to pander to the pressure by some of his supporters to dump Wike, who in their view, has become a major distraction.
Our source said for Atiku, calling Wike’s bluff would be the last option considering his influence among major stakeholders including some governors.
“The truth is that at the moment, the Turaki is confused on how to rein in Governor Wike. Though he is not comfortable with his excesses, he is also being careful to call his bluff in view of what he can do to his (Atiku) ambition.
“Ordinarily, he would like Ayu to go for there to be peace but he is also afraid of going for a new national chairman just three weeks to campaigns.
“As we speak, there is so much pressure on Atiku to ignore Wike and carry on with his plans for the election but he is conscious of the possible backlash. You know that even in his recalcitrant posture, Wike still has many stakeholders behind him.
“Wike that I know is not somebody that is afraid of a fight. He is just like when you marry a beautiful but quarrelsome wife. Even though she is giving you trouble virtually everyday, you are reluctant to sack her because you still find her attractive.”
He said Atiku is constrained to make the last push for reconciliation with Wike before the commencement of campaigns on September 28.
Our source, however, said some close supporters of Atiku have cautioned the PDP candidate to be decisive on the matter before the campaigns. “Wike should join the train or be left out,” they insist.
•Our leaders united
Despite the crisis, the party’s spokesman, Debo Ologunagba, said the leaders of the opposition party were united in their resolve to rescue the country.
Ologunagba, who stated this, at an interactive session, with journalists, yesterday, in Abuja, said there was no crisis in the party. However, he stated that what presently obtains is differences among some party leaders, which is normal in every human endeavour.
“We have differences. We don’t have crisis. We have disagreement of choice. There is no crisis in PDP. We have differences, which is in human nature. Issues are part of family. In a political party, we have different views. This party respect every member of the party. Everybody in the party, even Wike agrees that Nigeria is the issue.
“This party is not a one man party. The organs of the party are working very well. Human nature is dynamic. We must be conscious of every interest so that we don’t miss it. We must carry everybody along. We need to fix our security. Fix our economy. The party is solid and moving ahead with its programmes. To rescue the nation. Bring every members on board.All the leaders have agreed and we are on same mission. This party is on ground. Solid.”
•NEC meets next week
A top party source said the PDP National Executive Committee ( NEC) is likely to meet next week to ratify the list of members of the Presidential Campaign Council before it is formally unveiled
The face-off between Wike and Atiku among other reasons, started following the choice of Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa as running mate on the one hand, and insistence of the Rivers governor’s group on the removal of Ayu, a northerner, as the party’s presidential candidate, to give room for a southern national chairman for fairness, equity and balancing.
Atiku was in London last Thursday to pacify the governor, who had earlier met Mr. Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s (LP) presidential candidate with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in attendance.
Despite the several moves for truce, including the London meeting, Governor Wike appears resolved to reject any move for reconciliation. Specifically, Wike was quoted to have told top members of his group, including Governors Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Samuel Ortom of Benue and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia states, that reconciliation was out of the way except certain conditions were met.
The governor was also said to be angry over Atiku’s decision to bring his political foes, including former PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, closer. It was gathered that Wike believed the romance with Secondus and others was a clear demonstration by the former VP that he could work with others in his absence.
In what appeared like erecting further hurdles in the way of any reconciliation, the governor came up with a six-point demand at their London meeting. Part of the conditions was that Wike wanted the party to allow him to nominate Ayu’s replacement, a signed commitment from Atiku to serve out only one term and that he (Wike) be allowed to also nominate principal officers of the National Assembly and some ministers if PDP wins the 2023 presidential election.