The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) due to the disagreement between its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has divided party leaders into two factions.
Recall that the crisis rocking the PDP started after its presidential primaries, where Atiku defeated Wike, former Senate President Bukola Saraki, Governor Bala Mohammed, and many others to clinch the opposition party’s ticket.
Loyalists of Governor Wike have called for the resignation of the PDP National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, stressing that the party’s presidential candidate, party chairman, and Board of Trustees (BoT) chairman, Walid Jubrin, cannot all come from the same zone.
Reports had claimed that the party leaders had agreed that the National Chairman would have to resign if a northerner emerged as the PDP’s presidential candidate.
While Wike and his loyalists call for Ayu’s removal for peace to return to the opposition party, Atiku and his camp insist that the PDP chairman must remain until at least after the 2023 election.
Saraki is reportedly leading some party bigwigs and stakeholders to lobby Wike and his supporters to accept reconciliation and support Atiku’s decision to pick Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as his running mate.
However, Wike and his allies have maintained that Atiku must honour agreements where he promised that once the PDP presidential candidate emerges from the North, a Southerner will lead the party.
But Atiku’s camp feels changing the party’s chairman at this point will be dangerous to the party’s chances in next year’s election.
A source told The Nation that “the party is drifting and party leaders are concerned. The National Working Committee (NWC) is divided now.
“Some governors, ex-governors, ex-ministers and founding fathers of the party like a former National Security Adviser Gen. Aliyu Gusau, ex-President of the Senate Bukola Saraki, Governors Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Douye Diri and Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, ex-Governors Henry Seriake Dickson, Sule Lamido, Babangida Aliyu, Boni Haruna and others are with Atiku.
“But from Wike’s camp, a new set of power brokers is emerging. They include Governors Seyi Makinde and Samuel Ortom, ex-governor Hassan Dankwambo, Ayodele Fayose, and Donald Duke, a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), many senators and members of the House of Representatives.
“Disturbed by the division, especially threat to PDP chances in swing states like Kano, Lagos and Rivers state, a former President of the Senate, some ex-ministers and leaders of the party are trying to make amend. The former Senate President is now leading lobbying for fresh talks between Atiku and Wike.
“In spite of the fact that Wike has made himself incommunicado to Atiku, the ex-Senate President is optimistic that PDP leaders will close ranks.”
Another source in Wike’s camp stated that the Rivers governor is unhappy with comments by some party leaders on his personality.
The source said: “The way the situation is going, Nigerians will soon know the truth. Wike is a committed and loyal party leader. He has been there for PDP when some leaders abandoned it.
“Wike was recommended by a committee as vice presidential candidate of the party, but some forces in the party abandoned the report without mutual consultations.
“They came up with ridiculous excuses of temperament, ambition, and overzealousness. When it comes to certain challenges, Wike is useful.
“Yet, it has pleased some leaders of the party to wish him away as nobody. They came up with ridiculous excuses.
“Also, what is hurting the Rivers State governor and his strategists is that all mutual decisions agreed with Atiku were not honoured, including the one at their meeting after the presidential primaries. Atiku paid a visit to Wike in Abuja, and some issues came up.
“The next thing that happened in the party was that the likes of ex-Governor Babangida Aliyu started attacking Wike. The hand was Esau’s, the voice was Jacob’s.”
The source added that Wike is ready to draw the battle lines at any moment because Atiku’s camp has not been forthcoming, especially on a minimum demand.
He disclosed that it was agreed that once a presidential candidate came from the North, the National Chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, would step down.
“If PDP leaders cannot comply with a minimum threshold, you can imagine what will happen after the party wins the 2023 poll,” the source said.