Barely eight months to 2023 general elections, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seems to be engulfed in simmering fresh crisis as most of its governors now take the back seat in matters concerning the progress of the party.
The dust from the fallout of the choice of running mate by the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, appeared not to have settled down properly, as some governors are still nursing anger, disappointment and frustration, following the decision of Atiku to dump the committee’s recommendations, sources in the party told Daily Independent on Wednesday.
While the call to sack the party’s national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, has taken another dimension in recent times, the governors elected on the platform of the party appeared to be dragging their feet supporting the activities of the party especially the forthcoming Osun governorship election and the 2023 general elections.
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The action of the governors to boycott the inauguration of Osun Campaign Council on Wednesday laid credence to this development that the party is embattled.
The inauguration ceremony at the party’s national secretariat was only attended by two out of the 13 governors elected on the platform of the party.
Even the chairman of the campaign council and Beyalsa State governor, Senator Duoye Diri, failed to appear at the inauguration and no excuse was given.
The only two governors, who attended the campaign council inauguration were that of Delta, Ifeanyi Okowa, and Taraba, Darius Ishaku.
The governors that shunned the inauguration were that of Rivers, Oyo, Beyalsa, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Sokoto, Adamawa, Abia and Enugu. They were all appointed as vice chairmen of the campaign council.
Supporting the assertion that all is not well with the party, the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, in Arise Television programme said, “I was among the 17 member committee set up by Atiku and 14 of us in the committee said the person should be Wike.
“Unfortunately, Atiku picked Okowa, that is his wisdom. You cannot ignore the decision of a committee you set up yourself and expect people to be happy.
For now, I have gone into hibernation.” Asked if he will support the candidature of PDP, Ortom didn’t give direct answer but said, “I am in hibernation. I am praying. When I finish the prayers and whatever God directs me, I will do.”
He further said: “We expect Atiku to do more but we are not seeing that.” Also asked by Arise Television that a source said that the camp of Atiku is trying to reach out to Wike but he has been ignoring their calls, the Benue State governor said, “They should stop that.
Atiku should go to him. Why won’t he ignore their calls, is that not an insult? Wike is a pillar in the party. Currently, nobody in the party has contributed more for the party to move forward than Wike.
“If Atiku was not going to honour the decision of the committee, he should have called Wike earlier and informed him. He didn’t do that. You can’t do things anyhow and expect us to be happy.”
Reacting to his alleged suspension, Ayu said he’s still the national chairman of the party, adding that it is mischievous to say he has been suspended.
Ayu, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Simon Imobo-Tswam, said, “Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, the PDP national chairman remains the PDP national chairman.
“Dr. Ayu took a well-deserved, two-week leave on 21st June, 2022. He will be back next week to resume duties, specifically on July 6, 2022.
“A stickler for due process, Dr. Ayu formally handed over to the Deputy National Chairman (North), Amb. Umar Damagun.
“And the Deputy National Chairman has held forth admirably since that day. “It was in that acting capacity that he (Damagun) today, presided over the inauguration of the Osun State Gubernatorial Campaign Council, headed by the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State, H.E. Douye Diri.
“If not that the authors of the mischievous and baseless Facebook posts were out to serve nefarious interests, they would have heard when the acting national chairman, Amb. Damagun, said during the ceremony today, ‘On behalf of my able National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, I hereby inaugurate you.’ “The general public is, therefore, advised to ignore the mischievous social media publications as they are purely the work of mischief makers and idle minds.”
The party, in a statement by its spokesman, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, described the suspension report of Ayu as fictitious, adding,
“Such report is completely false and a product of the imagination of mischief makers with the intent to destabilize our party, create an impression of crisis within our ranks and mislead the unsuspecting members of the public.
“It is clear that the false report is the handiwork of vicious anti-people forces who are agitated by the stability, unity and soaring popularity of our party under the cohesive Sen. Dr. Ayu-led National Working Committee as well as the intimidating statures of our presidential and vice presidential candidates, His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar and His Excellency, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, respectively.
“For clarity, our National Chairman, Sen. Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, is on a short vacation outside of the country and he officially transmitted power to the Deputy National Chairman (North), His Excellency Amb. Umar Iliya Damagum, to perform his duties in acting capacity, pending his return, in line with the provision of the constitution of the PDP 2017 (as amended).
“It is instructive to state that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was duly informed of the absence of our national chairman and that Amb. Damagun will be performing the duties of the national chairman in acting capacity pending Sen. Dr. Ayu’s return.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP and the NWC is united and Sen. Dr. Iyorchia Ayu remains the national chairman.”
Earlier during the inauguration, Delta State governor, Okowa, urged the PDP stakeholders to build a common front, so that the party can win the forthcoming Osun State governorship election.
Okowa, who said PDP will win the election, added that the party won the last election in the state.
He said: “We are very much aware of the events that took place four years ago. There is no doubt that PDP won that election but unfortunately, we were cheated out of the election.
As we move into another election, we are confident that if all of us, all of us stay committed to the party, that we will be able to deliver the victory for our party.
“Osun State obviously is a PDP state. We have great leaders who have a very clear understanding of the politics in that state.
I want to urge all our leaders and our followers in the state to please quickly bridge the gaps of divide that is amongst us, because victory stares us right in the face, God has gone ahead of us. It is for us to follow the wish of God and to deliver the state to the PDP.
“There is a lot of work to be done. It is not a fun fare, and I believe that the membership of the campaign counselors inaugurated today are capable enough to truly go out there to deliver the state to the PDP.”
The acting national chairman and deputy national chairman, North, Umar Damagun, charged the campaign council to ensure that the state delivers for the party.
He said: “I simply want to remind us of the responsibilities that is going to be bestowed on you. Your sole mandate is to go to Osun State and win the election for us, Osun is key to our presidential election.
“And I believe with the caliber of people that have been selected to steer this campaign organisation, I have no doubt that you will give us the desired result.”
Also speaking, the National Organising Secretary, Hon. Umar Bature, noted that PDP was robbed of its victory in 2019, adding that it will be difficult this time around to rob the party of its victory.
He said: “This campaign council after inauguration will move to the field to make sure that Osun State is captured.
As we are all aware, our victory in the 2019 elections was taken away, but we are more than confident this time around and it will be extremely difficult for anybody to take away our victory.”