Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has fired back at the National chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, saying he could not stop any candidate of the party from contesting the 2023 general election.
Wike, had reacted to a statement credited to Ayu, that he could have stopped their candidates from emerging, said the PDP national chairman lacked capacity to sack him or stop any other members from achieving their ambition.
This is as a chieftain of the party, Chief Ejiofor Onyia, has urged both Wike and Chief Olabode George to review their stand, saying the crisis plaguing the party would not be as complicated or serious if the actors would consider the issues from the perspective of party interest vis-â-vis the constitution of the PDP.
Wike, who spoke during a media parley in his private residence at Rumuepirukom, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state, described Ayu’s statement as evidence of arrogance and impunity, saying the threat was directed at the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, whom he said was Ayu’s benefactor and guarantor, when he contested for the party’s national chairmanship.
“That also tells you the impunity, I heard when he said he would have stopped (Gov) Ortom from running. You see how ungrateful humans are. This was the same Governor Ortom, who pleaded with us and said he can take this risk and let him become the national chairman.
“This is a man, who never campaigned anywhere. This is a man, who never printed any poster even when they gave him money to print posters. Now, he can even tell you that if he wanted to stop the man (Ortom) who brought him, who became his guarantor. That is the corruption we are talking about
“He has now come into office. He has seen money. He has seen power. Now, he can open his mouth to say that if he wanted to stop Ortom, he will do it. We dare him. And he said he can also stop any contestant. I dare him. If he is national chairman, I dare him to stop any contestant, if he has what it takes.”
The Rivers State governor questioned the basis for Ayu’s comment, when the issues on ground was the demand for his resignation.
According to him, nobody has said Ayu should be sacked, noting that it was important that people understood the difference between being sacked and the call for promises made to be kept.
“And what we are saying is, as a man of honour, if he (Ayu) has any, keep to your honour, keep to your integrity. So, the issue of people sacking him does not arise.
“All we are saying is, keep to the agreement, yes, in order for our party to show inclusivity, to show in our party that we are not marginalising any zone. That if the presidential candidate comes from the north as it has come from the north, then the national chairman will come from the south.
“So, saying that nobody can sack him does not arise. Nobody has said he must be sacked. For you to be sacked, there are procedures for sacking people.”
But, speaking with THISDAY in Asaba, Onyia, who is one of the few foundation members of the PDP, said the conflict of interest within party leadership could be resolved in a moment of positive reflection by the contending groups and advised that they all should tread the path of compromise based on the principle of supremacy of the PDP Constitution.
Specifically, he stressed that the call for the resignation of Ayu, was unrealistic until the conclusion of the 2023 general election, because any talk about removing the chairman was synonymous with reconstituting the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
“I think the situation in the party at the moment is a little bit worrisome, but one must be realistic over the matter now. What is obvious is that the party runs by the rule of law. So, whatever agreements that are being put forward must be within the rule of law of the party.
“I was one of those who initially – and I still hold that opinion – that we should not castigate anybody, that we should not castigate anybody in the party despite the reactions that followed the primary election of the party. People must be allowed to vent their anger, but there must be a limit to everything that has to be done.
“Now, the contending issue, as it is today, has to do with moving the leadership of the party from the North to the South. This is what I understand and that I want to be sure that I put out issues for everyone to consider.
“By the rule of law of the party and the Constitution, there is no provision by which that can be achieved right now, because that means we are going to have a new convention to elect a new executive (council). We don’t have that kind of time and, therefore, there is no need to pursue that goal anymore.
“Now, if it is an issue of Ayu personally, then, we must all try and learn to live with the reality for now. Unless there is a means of removing him as Chairman. But one thing I have to caution is that even if Senator Ayu is removed today as Chairman, the only person that can succeed him, by the PDP Constitution, is the Deputy National Chairman from the zone, which is from the North.
“Therefore, if the issue is that the Party Chairman should move to the South, that is not tenable as it is today, by the constitution of the party. I challenge anybody in the party to come up with a scenario whereby this can be accomplished without really creating a legal issue and inculcating more crises within the party. It is a legal issue and must be handled with care.”
Onyia, therefore, appealed to Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State to review his demands for the resignation of Ayu as the party’s chairman and his replacement with someone from the southern part of the country from the point of view of the PDP Constitution, sheathe his sword and work for the progress and victory of the party in next year’s presidential and other elections.
Onyia also charged George to be more fatherly in his position on the lingering crisis and utterance so that peace would prevail in the party once again.
Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba and Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt