As the embattled National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, consolidates plans to preside over the National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting scheduled for tomorrow, some allies of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, are hatching a fresh plot to unseat him TODAY SPLASH has learnt.
But Source reliably comfirm that more members of the party’s National Working Committee, NWC, are queuing behind Ayu in a bid to thwart the moves.
The NWC members, it was gathered, plan to have only one agenda at tomorrow’s NEC meeting.
Also, barring any last-minute changes, Source was reliably informed that the main item on the agenda would be the harmonisation and possible announcement of the party’s campaign council.
Meanwhile, as part of moves to put an end to the widening rift in the party, some concerned governorship candidates, met with Governor Wike, yesterday. Similarly, the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, held a meeting with members of the House of Representatives elected on the party’s platform.
The All Progressives Congress, APC, again, took a swipe at the PDP and its embattled chairman, asking him to stop swinging wildly in search of scapegoats, but to blame himself for the mess he has found himself in, due to the altercation between him and Wike.
Why Atiku must preside, see to Ayu’s removal — BoT member
Vanguard gathered that the fresh plot to oust Ayu by some allies of Governor Wike is to ensure that the party’s presidential candidate presides over the NEC meeting.
It was further gathered that the Wike camp would insist that since the former vice-president is the party’s presidential candidate, he remains leader of the PDP.
A member of the party’s Board of Trustees, BoT, who spoke to Vanguard in confidence, however, tackled Atiku for “playing politics with Ayu’s removal.”
The PDP leader said: “I will be at the NEC meeting. The candidate should now supposedly be the leader of the party. He (Atiku) is the one contesting and not Ayu. If Ayu wants to destroy the party, he should go ahead. We are waiting for them to come and campaign in the South-West, we are waiting for them.
“Atiku is the one contesting and if he does not take action, it means he does not have the depth to rule Nigeria.
“Those abusing Wike know why they are doing that, it is not my business. What I am saying is that Ayu cannot come and lead the campaign of a Northern candidate. That is all. Will the North accept it if it was the other way round? That is my grouse because we must stand on the path of truth.
“They are calling Wike a noise maker. If the reverse were the case, would Sule Lamido have complained? What you cannot take, don’t give it to others. That is my stand. If Ayu wants to divide the party into North and South, he should go ahead.
“Atiku should show that he is leader of the party because if he cannot resolve this amicably, then it means he cannot rule this country.”
Speaking further, the party leader insisted that once Ayu resigns, it will lead to peace in the party.
He said: “Thursday’s NEC meeting is statutory but because NWC imembers are managers of the party, they can call for the meeting.
“What does it take for one man that, in the interest of peace, Ayu should quit? What does it take? What do we tell our people at home in the South-West?
“Atiku is playing politics with Ayu’s removal and he is not going to make headway with it.
“Ayu has said he won’t leave office until after four years while Atiku is saying the chairman will leave after the election. What is all that?”
Stop fooling Rivers people, Wike tells PDP
Meanwhile, Governor Wike has said that Rivers State, under the PDP administration, has not been appreciated for its efforts in previous elections.
Wike, who expressed this concern at the commissioning of Etche Campus of Rivers State University in Etche Local Government Area, also urged those concerned for his life over his position in the crisis rocking the PDP not to be afraid, as God, he believes, would not allow a fellow human to kill him.
He said: “When they (unnamed PDP bigwigs) were going to negotiate with Buhari in 2019, they negotiated with Buhari, that’s why Buhari won the election. They came to me and I said no negotiation; PDP must win.
“Since 1999, I want Rivers people to always reflect on this, to ponder it. Since 1999, we brought the highest votes for the PDP. Since 1999, I challenge any state to say they brought more votes than Rivers State.
“Since 1999, I challenge any state in terms of support for the PDP, which state has given much support than Rivers State? Since 1999, show me one federal project in Rivers State.
“If you want our votes, tell me, what do you give to Rivers State? Nothing can be for dash again.
“Enough is enough of using Rivers State and thinking we are foolish people and we don’t know what to do with our money. Enough is enough of using Rivers people and saying they will bring the votes and when they bring the votes they will push us away.
“Tell us what you are going to do for the people of Rivers, not for me. There is nothing any of them can do for me. I am interested in my state, nobody can buy me. Have I not been a minister before? So, what are you now going to entice me with as a person? Nothing! If you don’t tell me what the state will gain, then forget me.”
I’m not intimidated, says Wike
On fears for his life, Wike said: “No amount of intimidation, no amount of threats. This government fought us but we survived. Most of them, who are talking now, if this Federal Government had descended on them, would have crumbled.
“If you are a Rivers man, you don’t need to be intimidated by anybody. We must take our rightful position. So, nobody should be worried. Intimidating me? Some people tell me, ‘Oh, be careful, they will kill you’. Kill who? Who told you, you will not die first?
“Those of you who are panicking, you don’t need to panic. I have God, what are you afraid of? They have chased us, they fought us but today we are standing very strong,” Wike said.
Governorship candidates meet Wike
As a way of resolving the crisis in the party, some PDP governorship candidates are said to be meeting with the Rivers governor.
Some of the candidates presently in Port Harcourt are the Lagos PDP governorship candidate, Dr Olajide Adediran, and his Ogun State counterpart, Mr Ladi Adebutu.
Though a date for the meeting is still being worked out, a top-ranking member of the party familiar with the development, told Vanguard, yesterday, that the candidates elected to join in the mediation, noting that the party could not afford to go into the 2023 elections with a divided house.
The decision to meet Wike was reached after a meeting with Atiku last Saturday. It was gathered that the aspirants had, at the closed-door meeting with Atiku, expressed worry over the feud which they argued had lingered for too long.
The source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Aside from the challenges being faced in the various state chapters, the aspirants expressed concerns over the lingering crisis within the party at the national level and offered to mediate as a group.
“They agreed to meet with Governor Nyesom Wike and those sympathetic to his cause to find an amicable solution to the crisis.”
A series of meetings are also scheduled to hold beginning Wednesday with the ultimate aim of getting every party member on board.
Feelers from the Wike camp indicate that members of the group have not foreclosed dialogue but are insisting that it would be on their terms.
Atiku meets PDP Reps members
Similarly, the PDP candidate, yesterday, hosted members of the House of Representatives elected on the party’s platform as part of his consultations ahead of the announcement of a campaign council.
The meeting, held at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, allowed Atiku to let the federal lawmakers know what he expects from each of them as the 2023 elections draw near.
It was also gathered that the lawmakers, who equally briefed him about their expectations, expressed concern over the lingering feud between him and aggrieved party loyalists sympathetic to the Rivers State governor.
A source, privy to what transpired at the meeting, told Vanguard that “We spoke candidly, advising our candidate to expedite action on settling the dispute because the longer it continues, the worse it gets, not only for the party but also for our chances at the polls.
“Whatever the issues are, we told him they should be resolved quickly for the good of all.
He, in turn, informed the gathering that he and his team were working round the clock to deal with the issue, pointing out that a peaceful resolution was within reach.”
Atiku, who also gave an insight into what was discussed, took to his verified twitter handle @Atiku and said: “I just rounded off a meeting with former presiding officers and leaders of the House of Representatives at the Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja.
“The meeting afforded a double advantage of seeking their support in building a grassroots network for our upcoming campaign.
“The second benefit is that it provides a legislative insight into some of the reforms we shall work through. Altogether, it was a well-spent afternoon, and I thank them all for honouring my invitation.”
Atiku appoints another media aide
In another development, the PDP Presidential candidate also announced the appointment of the Commissioner for Information in Delta State, Mr Charles Aniagwu, as one of his spokesmen for the 2023 presidential campaign.
In a statement by his Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, Atiku said Aniagwu’s appointment takes immediate effect, with the responsibility, among others, to keep the electorate up to speed with happenings in the presidential campaign.
The statement reads in part: “Aniagwu is a veteran broadcaster with over two decades of experience in the media industry. “He joins other appointees who had been announced earlier as spokespersons to the campaign.“
APC Mocks PDP Chair
Meanwhile, the APC, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Felix Morka, noted that with such an escapist mindset, it is not difficult to see why the meltdown in the PDP has proved intractable on Ayu’s watch.
The statement reads: “As he struggled to deny a statement credited to him that Governor Nyesom Wike could not father a child, the National Chairman of the opposition PDP, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, alleged, ridiculously, that the APC and ‘other mischievous people’ were planting such stories in the media and stoking the feud between him and the Rivers State Governor.
“Understandably, Chairman Ayu is deep in quicksand and swinging wildly in search of third parties to blame for the internal combustion in the party that he leads.
“Unlike the party of Ayu, APC does not ‘plant stories’ and does not meddle in the internal affairs of other parties. That is an area of extreme and unrivaled competence of the PDP. In any event, the PDP is unraveling unstoppably and needs no help from the outside.
“Rather than distract himself in search of an illusory scapegoat, Ayu and stakeholders of his withering PDP should concentrate on finding an anchor to slow the Party’s rudderless drift.
“How can a party that has proved incapable of governing itself seek to govern a country as important as Nigeria? After 16 years of ruthless misgovernance and crass failure to reform and reposition itself, quite frankly, the PDP stands morally disqualified from asking Nigerians for their votes in the next general election.
“On our part, we will remain focused in search of new and creative ways of improving the quality of life of our people, and working to convince them to renew our mandate again in 2023.”