From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja and Sola Ojo, Kaduna
There are indications that the fate of the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, is hanging in the balance as the G-5 governors and party’s 2023 presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar move to close ranks.
The G-5 governors, which includes Governors Nyesom Wike, Rivers; Samuel Ortom, Benue; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu; Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia and Seyi Makinde Oyo, have been at loggerheads with the PDP candidate and the party leadership since the emergence of Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa as Atiku’s running mate.
The aggrieved governors, who have pulled out of the PDP presidential campaign council, have continued to insist on replacement of Ayu with a southerner as a condition for reconcilation.
However, the PDP chairman has said he would not resign as he was elected for a term of four years, while Atiku, on his part, said he cannot force Ayu to quit.
Nevertheless, last week, Atiku and Wike, at different fora, said they were ready to bury the hatchet and work together for the 2023 general elections.
Daily Sun gathered that Atiku, who had declared in an interview with the Voice of America (VOA), Hausa Service, that he had moved on, as far as the party crisis was concerned, was compelled to seek a rapproachement with the G5 governors, following threat by Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State to quit the PDP presidential campaign.
Multiple sources told Daily Sun that in the aftermath of the Bauchi governor’s threat and the possibility of his teaming up with the G-5, top party leaders impressed it on Atiku to seek a way to end the crisis, as it would be counter-productive for the PDP to go into the 2023 polls without the support of all its governors.
Some party leaders are also of the opinion that the PDP chairman should be compelled to quit, if that would enhance the chances of the opposition party.
Mohammed, in a letter to Ayu, had accused Atiku of allegedly sabotaging his second term bid, and threaten to resign his position as the vice chairman of the PDP presidential campaign council. A member of the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC) told Daily Sun that some prominent Nigerians, were intervening to boost the chances of the opposition party.
According to him, “yes, there are moves for reconciliation. Prominent Nigerians who want to to save the country from the calamity that the APC controlled government has brought upon the country are intervening. They have decided that the crisis should come to an end.”
However, Daily Sun gathered that while the G5 governors are disposed to mending fences with the PDP, the only grey area is their insistence on the replacement of Ayu.
A source close to one of the G5 governors told Daily Sun that in as much as they are disposed to reconciliation, it is unlikely that they will dump their earlier demand for Ayu’s ouster as national chairman. He stated that as a compromise position, the aggrieved governors may accept that the PDP Deputy National Chairman (North), Umar Damagum, preside over the affairs of the party until after the elections.
“They are open for reconcilation for the good of the party and the party. But I don’t think they will shift ground on Ayu’s removal. For the fact that they have accepted to reconcile is a step forward. One of the main condition is the resignation of the national chairman. As far as I know, I don’t think there have been any shift. They may accept a compromise position that Ayu goes and Damagum takes over in acting capacity.”
However, another member of the PDP NEC, who is sympathetic to Ayu, told Daily Sun that in as much as it is imperative for Atiku to reconcile with the aggrieved governors, “we have two months to elections, why should they still be demanding that the national chairman steps down?”
Daily Sun gathered that with the fresh moves, Ayu continued stay in office would likely depend on the ability of the Atiku camp to get Wike and his men to soft pedal on their demand for his replacement, before the elections.
•Ayu capable of leading PDP to victory –Coalition
Meanwhile, the PDP Coalition for Professionals Group and Peaceful Co-existence (PDP-CUP) has backed Ayu, saying he has the capacity to lead the party to victory in the 2023 polls.
This is as it expressed confidence that Atiku and his running mate, Okowa, have the competence and energy to solve Nigeria’s challenges and with greater commitment to fairness, justice and equity for all if elected next year.
National Coordinator of the coalition, Muhammad Dan’auta, in a statement, yesterday after its meeting, said Ayu has the capacity and goodwill to deliver PDP to victory in the coming elections and also ensure the party comes out stronger from its current challenges.
The group cautioned Nigerians to be mindful of desperate politicians out to disunite them along ethnic, religious and regional lines.