*Says chair unwilling to resign because of N14bn made from primaries
*Party must address lopsided NWC before campaigns, George warns
*NEC holds next week
*Atiku promises to restore Nigeria’s preeminent role in West Africa
Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, yesterday, hit back at the national chairman of his party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, for calling him and others children. Wike described Ayu as an ingrate, because those he derided as children were the same people who brought him from the gutters to the chairmanship of the party.
The governor made the riposte at the launch of a project in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
He claimed Ayu was unwilling to resign due to the allure of some N14 billion made during the PDP primaries, warning that arrogance would not take the PDP chairman anywhere.
Wike said Ayu’s actions were not geared towards the party’s victory in 2023, and promised to assist him in making the PDP fail.
Relatedly, former Deputy National Chairman of PDP, Chief Olabode George, said it was important for the party to address the current lopsided structure of its National Working Committee (NWC) before the commencement of the 2023 election campaigns. George stated that the office of national chairman should come to the south for the sake of fairness and balance.
But the NWC might have resolved to move ahead with the composition of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, with a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting slated for next week after it was initially called off last week.
Still on next year’s election matters, the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku Abubakar, reaffirmed his commitment to restore Nigeria’s leadership role in regional security and development, if elected into office.
Ayu had in an interview with the BBC Hausa service said children, who did not know how the party was formed could not force him to resign. The statement was in apparent reference to Wike and allies, who had since the party’s presidential primaries waged a campaign against the leadership.
Speaking at the launch of a project in Port Harcourt, Wike responded, “Yesterday, somebody said, where were you when they founded the party? Because we insisted that the right things must be done. We are boys, we are children. You can imagine what power can do. You can imagine the ingratitude; how people can be ingrates in their lives?
“I thought as chairman of a party, who wants to win elections, your business is to bring peace to your party; your business is not to divide your party. Your business is not to show arrogance to your party.
“Yes, the children brought you to be chairman of the party. The children brought you from the gutter to make you chairman.”
Pointedly calling out the national chairman, Wike said, “Ayu, you were impeached as senate president. Ayu, you were sacked by Obasanjo’s administration. Arrogance cannot take you anywhere. Now, we have seen that you don’t want the party to win the election. We will help you.
“These boys that brought you from nothing, from nothing we brought. Ayu, you said you founded this party, but you left the party in 2007. You founded a company, you left the company. People stood and made the company what it is today. You left with your shares, so you have no moral right.
“You want to show integrity. You want to sell a party to Nigeria that we want to take over. You must convince Nigerians that we have integrity. You are the driver that will drive the vehicle that will convey us to the destination, that is the victory we’re looking for. So, if the driver has no integrity, honesty, how do you convince Nigerians?”
The Rivers State governor revealed how, before the presidential primaries, he and others had championed the zoning of the office of PDP National Chairman to the north.
He stated, “Now Nigerians have seen how ungrateful some of you can be. So, they are asking if we give these people power, will they be grateful?
“Now that you have shown arrogance that you were elected, where did you campaign? Show me your posters in Rivers State, even though we gave you money to go and do posters, but you kept it in your pocket.
“Because of money we made from the party primaries, about N14 billion, that is why he’s saying, I won’t resign. Nothing more, just N14 billion. He wants to preside over the expenditure.
“You are referring to the people, who salvaged the party, as children because of N14 billion in the party’s account. It will finish.
“A man who is inconsistent and ran away from the party, telling those of us who spent our time, sleepless nights, and made sure that the party did not go down, that we are children. To those children, you are the prodigal father.”
In a similar vein, George warned, “We can only go back to Aso Rock if we are united and not divided. The people that are abusing Governor Wike, that he is a troublemaker; those abusing him, as an elder, as a father in this party, I am directing him to stop immediately, because Governor Wike is only fighting for justice, for equity and fairness in our party.
“He is not only a strong pillar in this party, a mobiliser, a financier, and an actualiser. What we are saying is that the issue of the national chairman of the party must be addressed before the commencement of the campaign of 2023 general election.
“It is an antithesis and against the norm and culture of our party that our presidential candidate, our national chairman and chairman of our board of trustees will come from one section of the country. Party members from the south are already feeling alienated. PDP is not a private company.
“Before we start the presidential campaign at the end of this month, the national chairman must go to the south. This is all that Governor Wike is saying and as a life member of the Board of Trustees, I support this position 100 per cent.”
The former Ondo State military governor asked, “How will party members from the south feel, when they see that at all political rallies, southerners have no public political representation. This constitutes a fundamental fault and lack of inclusiveness, which is diametrically opposed to the position of the thinking of the founding fathers of our party.
“May be if Ayu had remained perpetually in the party, he would have learnt the ropes much better. We do not want to have a Northern Peoples Democratic Party and a Southern Peoples Democratic Party; we do not want to go to the election divided.
“Don’t let them remind us that this is the time for the amalgamation to be revisited. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. That is why the position of the national chairman must come to the south as a matter of urgency. We are not begging for it, we demand it, because it is our right.”
Meanwhile, NWC, which had two weeks ago called off the NEC and national caucus meetings to resolve the dispute between Ayu and Wike, yesterday, agreed that the meetings should hold between Tuesday and Thursday next week.
A source said, “The presidential campaign council and the composition is ready. What we are looking out for now is to get a chairman of the campaign council from the south for the purposes of balancing
“We have recognised the importance of balancing, but we have agreed to move on. The chairman of the presidential campaign will come from the south and everyone will be accommodated.”
Confirming that position, National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said the party was moving ahead and NEC and the national caucus meetings would take place in a matter of days.
“The national campaign council will be ready very soon,” Ologunagba said.
However, speaking yesterday in Abuja, when he led a delegation to a meeting with the 19 ambassadors of the European countries and Ambassador of the EU Mission in Nigeria, Atiku vowed to re-establish the place of the country in the sub-region.
Those on PDP presidential candidate’s team included the governor of Delta State and the party’s vice presidential candidate, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, and National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Iyorcha Ayu.
Bemoaning the policies of the All Progressives Congress (APC) federal administration in the last seven years, Atiku said the government’s strategy, such as the closing of borders, had eroded the gains of the foreign policy that was pursued by the previous PDP administration.
He said under his watch, regional security and collaboration would be strengthened.
Atiku told the diplomats that his cardinal foreign policy would be a cordial relationship with all countries and blocs, with West Africa and Africa being the centre of the country’s foreign policy.
He said the crises in the sub-region could not be addressed in isolation because they were similar, largely fuelled by lack of development, and would require working with all the countries to bring peace back to the region.
The former vice president recalled the enviable role that Nigeria played during the Olusegun Obasanjo era and the preceding administrations that saw the country providing support and leading the initiatives to restore peace and stability in the region.
Atiku said he desired that Nigeria and EU developed strong partnership in strengthening democracy for the mutual benefit of both parties.
He used the opportunity of the meeting to share his vision of a greater Nigeria and gave the diplomats an insight into his socio-economic and political agenda for Nigeria.
On its part, the EU assured of technical support to Nigeria, especially, to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the observation and monitoring of the 2023 general election.
Founded on January 22, 1995, THISDAY is published by THISDAY NEWSPAPERS LTD., 35 Creek Road Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria with offices in 36 states of Nigeria , the Federal Capital Territory and around the world. It is Nigeria’s most authoritative news media available on all platforms for the political, business, professional and diplomatic elite and broader middle classes while serving as the meeting point of new ideas, culture and technology for the aspirationals and millennials. The newspaper is a public trust dedicated to the pursuit of truth and reason covering a range of issues from breaking news to politics, business, the markets, the arts, sports and community to the crossroads of people and society.
You can email us at: [email protected] or visit our contact us page.