The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has continued to show signs of resilience in the midst of internal wrangling besetting it. Against the worries being expressed by many Nigerians that the crisis could hinder its chances at the general election in February next year, the umbrella association seems to be riding the waves.
One of the major concerns expressed by observers was the delay in raising the campaign team as the September 28 kick off date was by the corner.
But last Thursday, the party unveiled its Presidential Campaign Council (PCC). It was a robust list with 326 persons as members of the campaign council.
The announcement of the council came a day after Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and leader of the party in the South West had insisted that Iyorchia Ayu, national chairman of the party must resign.
South West PDP has however, distanced itself from Makinde’s position, saying that the Oyo State governor was on “his own.”
The call for Ayu’s resignation has become deafening among some leaders of the party.
This began after the party’s Presidential primary won by Atiku Abubakar. Some leaders in the Southern part of the country said it was not salutary for both the presidential candidate and the national chairman of the country to come from same region of the country.
Atiku and Ayu hail from the northern part of Nigeria. This has become an issue in a country where religion and ethnicity are major determinant in who wins a national election in the country.
Governor Wike leads a group of aggrieved serving governors and former governors that are not comfortable with the power concentration in the north within the PDP party.
Some other leaders with Wike on this are Governors Samuel Ortom, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Okezie Ikpeazu and Seyi Makinde of Benue, Enugu, Abia and Oyo respectively.
Speaking recently on pressure on him to resign, Ayu vowed not to resign his position, insisting that his mandate was for four years, stressing that those who want him out of office are children that were not around when the party was formed.
Ayu added that he was not bothered by the call for his resignation.
“I was voted as PDP Chairman for four-year tenure and I’m yet to complete a year. Atiku’s victory doesn’t affect the chairman’s position. I won my election based on our party’s constitution.”
“I didn’t commit any offense; I’m only reforming the party so I’m not bothered with all the noises. I know I’m doing my work and I didn’t steal any money so I see no reason for all these talks.
“When we started PDP, these children were not around. They are children who do not know why we formed the party. We will not allow any individual to destabilize our party,” Ayu said.
The crisis took another dimension recently when the chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Walid Jibrin resigned his position.
Jibrin announced his resignation at a meeting of the PDP BoT, at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.
“I am stepping down as the chairman of BoT. I am stepping down to make it easier for all of us,” he said.
On Wednesday, September 24, the Presidential candidate of the party, Atiku, a statement said it would only take the amendment of the party’s constitution to oust Ayu from his position.
“The Peoples Democratic Party is the oldest political party in Nigeria since the return of democracy and even before then. It is a party that has laid down rules and regulations. I have been a member of the party since when it was formed and I am still a member of the party up to the point of what it has grown to become,” he said.
According to him, “There is nothing any individual can do to change the outlook of the National Working Committee of the PDP. The PDP is a party where there are laid down rules and regulations. What Governor Makinde is asking for is possible only when we have amended our party’s constitution. As things stand today no single individual has the power to tamper with the NWC of the party. Doing so will be illegal and it will be against our rules in the party.”
“Nigerians will not trust us to govern by the tenets of rule of law if we take such arbitrary action against our own party,” he said.
Observers say that though it may appear that Ayu may be seen to be having his way, they likened what is happening in the party now to peace of the grave yard.
Speaking to BusinessDay Sunday, Alloy Harrison, a political analyst, said that unless the PDP settles the fundamental issues rocking the party, it would discover very late that it has made a grave mistake and that by that time it would be too late to address.
“Dr. Iyorchia Ayu has refused to step down. The party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is also pointed at the party’s constitution and insisting that Ayu will not resign. Those governors pushing for Ayu’s ouster are not saying anything meanwhile, but that does not mean they have forgotten the matter. If those issues are not sorted out before September 28 campaign kickoff, there would be serious confusion in that party. It may be too late to remedy the situation when the entire thing explodes,” Harrison said.
A member of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) who spoke with BusinessDaySunday on condition of anonymity said he wondered why the PDP was working at cross purposes months ahead of an important election.
“It is only PDP that know what they want to achieve. Our Interest in CUPP is to protect the sanity of the electoral process; to raise the flag wherever we notice some movements capable of compromising the process whatever a political party does internally is their business,” the politician said.
He however, expressed concern over the goings-on in the PDP, saying: “I do not know why Dr. Iyorchia Ayu has refused to resign after promising to do so.
“I had expected Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to prevail on Ayu to resign in the interest of the party, and even for himself as the party’s presidential candidate. If Ayu refuses to resign and those governors decide to work against Atiku, Ayu cannot save him. What magic wand does Ayu have to will victory to his party’s candidate? What is the scope of his influence?
“People must look and take decisions in the interest of a larger population and not just to serve narrow interest.”
The CUPP member observed that although the PDP has successfully announced its campaign council, it is not yet uhuru.
“It is left to be seen how the party hope to carry out its campaigns and ultimately win the election with a divided house,” he said.
What is happening to the umbrella?
During rainy season, umbrellas come handy. The intensity of the rain often determines the size of the umbrella people carry. There are rains that defy umbrellas. They blow away such protective covering and the carrier seeks a better shelter. The size of an umbrella someone carries is determined by the age of the individual. A boy of 10 years old may not be able to carry a huge umbrella, lest he is blown away with the torrential rain as he cannot keep the huge umbrella steady.
The PDP has a huge umbrella as its symbol. Those who chose an umbrella as the party’s logo had envisaged a proper covering for the Nigerian people under its protection. The PDP’s umbrella is a massive one that should ordinarily not allow any drop of water on whoever that is under it.
But over the years, particularly in recent times, the umbrella has been torn in various areas which has necessitated, not just drops of water sipping through but the entire object has become so porous that hiding under it no longer guarantee the needed protection from rain.
Over the years, many politicians who found shelter from the umbrella have discarded it and moved on. Some others used the umbrella to their destinations and tore the thing to shreds. For some others, the umbrella shielded them to a destination and they threw it in a dirty place and never cared to clean it up until they had a need for it again.
But some members of the party have continued to hide under it whether in the rain or in sunshine. They see the umbrella more than a covering object but an identity they cannot afford to treat despitefully.
And this is the crux of the internal wrangling in the party. Some of those who have identified with the umbrella at all times believe they are more PDP than those who had at one time or the other discarded and treated despitefully the object, only to pick it up when they have need of it.
Governor Wike of Rivers State strongly believes that he is more PDP than most people that claim to be entrenched members.
That was the point he tried to make when he recently told delegates to reward commitment and consistency, and not those who always try to use the platform to seek personal ambition.
He also flaunted it in the face of Iyorchia Ayu, national chairman of the party, when he asked the Benue-born politician where he was when they were spending to keep the party afloat.
The struggle over the umbrella has put in jeopardy the party’s preparations towards the 2023 general election. The energies that should be deployed toward organising meetings to strategise is now being diverted to throw verbal salvos – “If you Wike me; I Ayu you!
Lagos PDP backs Ayu
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State has thrown its weight behind the National Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, distancing itself from the call for his resignation by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.
In a statement issued on Saturday by the State Publicity Secretary of the party, Hakeem Amode, Lagos PDP said that there was no prior meeting where agreement to call for Ayu’s removal was reached with its leaders, urging those seeking his removal to respect the provisions of the party’s constitution.
The party urged its Southwest leadership to work together to return the PDP to its days of holding sway in the administration of the region, adding that focus should be directed mainly to encouraging members to rally round candidates for victory at the polls.
The statement read in part, “The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos state is by this statement distancing itself from the call for the removal of the National Chairman of the Party, Iyorchia Ayu.
“We believe that the Peoples Democratic Party – PDP had survived as the only political party since the inception of the recent democratic dispensation due to its adherence to the constitution of the party, rules of law and regulations guiding the administration of the party.
“As much as we extolled His Excellency, Engr. Seyi Makinde as our leader in the Southwest but there are no prior meeting where such agreement was reached with the leadership of the party in Lagos State where such position was agreed upon.”