By Ben Ogbemudia, Abuja
As the battle to push out the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, enters a critical stage, there are insinuations that last Thursday’s vote of confidence passed on the embattled chairman has not doused the tension in the party.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and other party stakeholders from the south, including Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, have waved aside the confidence vote, insisting that his resignation was imperative for there to be a balance in the power equation in the party.
Wike, while speaking in Port Harcourt, at a reception organised for defectors from various political parties who have joined the PDP, said no vote of confidence would save Ayu, just as the assurance tool passed by the party’s NEC in April 2019 failed to save his predecessor, Uche Secondus.
This came just as a member of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) from the south told ThisNigeria yesterday, “The game has just begun and we are watching them on how it ends. A vote of confidence concocted by those who don’t mean well for People’s Democratic Party are cooking all such of a thing to keep Iyorchia Ayu going.”
The NWC member, who preferred to be anonymous, said the vote of confidence that Ayu now uses as his hide and seek game will not give votes to the party in the 2023 general elections.
Southern members of the NWC last Wednesday walked out on Iyorchia Ayu in a meeting where he was bluntly told that he is the problem of the party and was advised to toe the line of honour in resigning honourably.
In protest of their demand, the same southern members and some elders of the party also boycotted the caucus and NEC meetings of the party
Surprisingly, there were protesters at the gate of the party national headquarters as the NEC meeting was ongoing calling on Dr Iyorchia Ayu to yield to his agreement of resigning when a northern presidential candidate emerged.
The protesters called on Ayu to stop playing to the gallery with the name of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, that what they are demanding is beyond the Governor but a southern decision of the party.
On the resignation of the Chairman, Board of Trustees, the protesters said, “Ayu is playing hide and seek game. Can the BoT take a decision that will affect the party? Ayu thinks he is clever, perhaps, he is the one that will win the election for Atiku Abubakar.”
Meanwhile, in Port Harcourt on Saturday, Wike said, “He (Secondus) forgets history that the same NEC through Aliyu Babangida who moved a motion for a vote of confidence supported by the same person – Ndudi Elumelu. They gave him a vote of confidence, what happened? He left office,” Wike said in Port Harcourt on Saturday when he received hundreds of defectors from the All Progressives Congress to the PDP in the oil-rich state.
Wike insisted that Ayu, who is from Benue State, must step down for a southerner, saying that the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar (from Adamawa State), told him in person when he won the May primary that Ayu must vacate his position as party chairman.
Also, the Oyo State governor while the inauguration of the Ahoada campus of the Rivers State University and flagging off the staff quarters in Rivers State, noted that the confidence vote was a fluke, adding that stakeholders of the party from the south would continue to press for justice.
•Atiku’s team: Sacking national chair will create constitutional crisis for party
Meanwhile, one of the spokesmen of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mr Charles Aniagwu, says the sacking of Ayu would have deepened the party’s crisis.
Aniagwu gave reasons why the PDP was exploring other options for resolving its current crisis.
He said that as a listening party, the PDP was taking a second look at the issues based on what was permissible by the laws of the party.
Aniagwu said that sacking Ayu would create a constitutional crisis for the party which would snowball into greater problems than what the party was currently facing.
According to him, the suggestion that the National Chairman must step down has been overtaken by events following the vote of confidence by the National Executive Committee (NEC).
“People may misinterpret it to mean calling the bluff of certain stakeholders but that is far from it because the party leadership examined the issues vis-a-vis the provisions of the party’s constitution as amended in 2017.
“When you look at that constitution, there are principal officers called the National Working Committee led by the National Chairman. In the order of hierarchy, the Deputy National Chairman, who must also come from the same zone as the National Chairman, is next in line.
“The third in line is the National Secretary; when you look at these positions, the National Chairman is from the North, and the second in command is also from the North under the provision of the party’s constitution.
“In section 45 of the party’s constitution, in the event of removal or resignation of the National Chairman, the National Deputy Chairman takes over and acts in that position pending when the party can organise another election.
“Alternatively, the party will convene an NEC meeting where it will decide as to how to rearrange the hierarchy of the party,” he said.
Aniagwu added that because the offices were elective positions, even if Ayu were to step down so that the National Chairmanship seat is conceded to the South, the provisions of the constitution of the party would also be offended.
“A southerner can only become National Chairman if we also removed the Deputy National Chairman of the party who the lot immediately falls on, by provisions of the law.
“Even if the party can solve that puzzle by bringing both National Chairman and Deputy to South, the third person in the hierarchy of the National Working Committee of the party is the National Secretary Samuel Anyanwu, from Imo.
“Now, if you decide to bring these two positions to the South, have you also made arrangements to take the National Secretary to the North?”
He said that the party adopted possible options which led to the resignation of Sen. Walid Jibrin and the emergence of Senator Adolphus Wagbara as Chairman of the BoT.