Appearing unflustered on the surface by the withdrawal of members of the Governor Nyesom Wike camp from his Presidential Campaign Council, former Vice President and Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has called for a rethink of the decision, while maintaining his earlier position that the removal of the party’s national chairman has be constitutionally done.
The Wike group, which has big names like sitting Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, former Governors Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo), Jonah Jang (Plateau), Ayo Fayose (Ekiti), Ibrahim Dankwambo(Gombe), Donald Duke (Cross River); and others like South-West chieftain, Chief Olabode George; former Information Minister, Prof. Jerry Gana, among others, had early this morning in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, called for the resignation of Dr. Iyorchia Ayu as the party chairman to pave the way for an acting Chairman from the southern region.
In his response, in a statement, titled, “Let us join hands and move on with the task of nation building”, Atiku wrote from abroad, where he is said to be on a business trip: “Early this morning, my attention was drawn to a news clip in which several very senior and influential members of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), addressed the press and, amongst other things, declared that they are withdrawing, forthwith, from the Presidential Campaign Council set up by our party to judiciously plan and prosecute the general elections set to hold in February and March 2023, on the one hand; and reiterated their earlier calls for the resignation or removal from office of the national chairman of our party, Senator Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, on the other hand.
“The people that addressed the press must have their reasons for withdrawing from the Presidential Campaign Council, and I will not speculate as to what those reasons may be. Personally, I am quite surprised with this withdrawal because, as I have been informed by officials of our party, apart from the Rivers State chapter of the PDP, all the remaining states of the federation submitted names of people who they wanted included in the Presidential Campaign Council.
“On the calls for the resignation or removal from office of our national chairman, however, I must reiterate what I have said severally in public and in private; the decision for Dr. Iyorchia Ayu to resign from office is personal to Dr. Ayu and, neither I nor anyone else can make that decision for him. As to the calls for the removal of Dr. Ayu from office, however, I will state that, as a committed democrat and firm believer in the rule of law and democratic tenets, and our party being one set up, organised and regulated by law and our constitution, it is my absolute belief that every thing that we do in our party must be done in accordance with, and conformity to, the law and our constitution. If Dr. Ayu is to be removed from office, it must be done in accordance with the laws that set out the basis for such removal. In any event, you will all recall that the very body that is empowered by law to initiate this removal from office, has already passed a vote of confidence in him.
“Now, our nation is currently in the throes of a multidimensional crisis encompassing insecurity, economic meltdown, disunity and mutual mistrust and educational dislocations, to mention a few. I have a plan to address these issues and I have, graciously, been given the ticket to lead our great party in next year’s presidential elections, with the singular mandate to come and lead the efforts to cure these ills. It is in this light that I have reached out to every single member of our great party to join me in the massive undertaking required to reset the ship of state, and help rebuild our country. Every single person who loves this country, as I do, is needed for the arduous tasks that face us ahead as a nation, and this includes every member of the PDP. And it is my fervent hope and prayer that every man and woman of goodwill will join hands with us to help rebuild and reposition our beloved country. In this light, therefore, I will urge those members of our party that have stated their resolve to withdraw from the Presidential Campaign Council to have a rethink, retrace their steps, and join us in these efforts.
“The above notwithstanding, and for the sake of our country, our children, and those yet unborn, we must not, for one minute, shirk in our responsibilities to rebuild this beloved country of ours.
“Accordingly, we must forge on with the task and the mandate that we have been bestowed with. It is time, therefore, to move on with the formidable tasks of nation building ahead of us.
“May God guide us all, and may God soothe our great party, and our dear country.”
After a meeting that lasted seven hours, the Wike group officially announced its withdrawal at a press briefing.
Announcing the withdrawal, party chieftain from Lagos, Chief Bode George said: “We resolve that we are deeply concerned by the division in our party. We are aware that over the years our party has developed conflict resolution mechanisms that guarantee inclusiveness.
“The published presidential campaign council list translates to putting the cart before the horse….
“Senator Iyorchia Ayu must resign as the National Chairman of the party for an acting Chairman of the Southern Nigerian extraction to emerge and lead the party on the national campaign.
“Consequently, we resolve not to participate in the campaign council in whatever capacity until the resignation of Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.”
In his own comments, Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, reiterated the position of the South-West group asking for Ayu to resign. He said: “We hope that the powers that be listen to the voice of reason and do the needful”.
Former Plateau Governor, Senator Jonah Jang, who was also at the meeting said it appeared the outcome of the primary was preplanned to short-change the other contestants.
“For a National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu to go and embrace Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tanbuwal, calling him the hero of the convention meant that there was a private arrangement that was done with Tambuwal to shortchange other contestants including Governor Wike.
“Here was a referee, who helped one of his sides to score a goal and then blew the whistle. This is not what we formed the PDP to do for Nigerians. Therefore, we unequivocally ask that Ayu must step down.”
Former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, said, “You cannot build on a faulty foundation.
“This call for the chairman to step down or resign is not because any of us is aggrieved but because we believe it is important to ensure a just, fair, principled, and constitutional structure for the party. If we want to restructure Nigeria, we should have the courage to restructure our party”.
Members of the group said none of them will participate in whatever capacity in the campaign council unless the National Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, resigns for a southern candidate.