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Ayu: Wike’s Camp Gives Atiku Ultimatum

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Despite ongoing efforts by some prominent stakeholders to douse the raging fire within the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following the disagreement between the party’s presidential candidate and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and a group of prominent party chieftains led by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State over the fate of PDP National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, there are indications that Wike and other aggrieved PDP governors and chieftains may have resolved to finally dump Atiku’s presidential aspiration if Senator Ayu fails to vacate office before the next PDP presidential campaign rally.

Reliable sources within the party told The Nation that Wike and his supporters have hinted of their decision to foreclose any further reconciliation talks should Atiku and the PDP hold another rally with Ayu in charge as the National chairman of the opposition party.

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Recall that five governors of the opposition party, including Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and Wike, are leading a group of aggrieved PDP chieftains and members who are protesting what they called the marginalization of the southern part of the country in the leadership structure of the party ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

Trouble started after Wike was overlooked by Atiku for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as running mate.

The group, which has held several meetings within and outside the country, have insisted that it is inappropriate for Senator Ayu, a northerner from Benue State, should hold on to the national chairmanship of the party after the emergence of Atiku, also from the north, as the 2023 presidential candidate of the PDP.

Last month, Wike’s team in the PDP pulled out of Atiku’s campaign council. After a meeting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, members of the team vowed not to take part in Atiku’s campaign activities until the resignation of Senator Ayu as the party’s National Chairman.

The Nation gathered that up till the time of filing this report, the Wike camp was waiting for the outcome of its last meeting with the leadership of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) led by the acting chairman, Senator Adolphus Wabara, on the protracted crisis.

According to a very reliable source, Wike and other governors are currently miffed that the BoT Reconciliation committee, which promised to get back to the group within a few days after the said meeting where Wike and other gave conditions for peace and agreed to shift some grounds in the interest of the party, is yet to do anything about the resolutions reached at the meeting even as Atiku launched his campaign in Uyo and proceeded to hold another rally in Kaduna.

“We have been waiting to hear from the leadership of the BoT since after the last meeting with them. The meeting followed a meeting between Governor Wike and Atiku. At the meeting with the Wabara and other BoT members, Wike and other gave conditions for peace and agreed to shift some grounds in the interest of the party.

“Some agreements were reached and some peace initiatives were suggested by both sides. The BoT members asked for a few days to return for the implementation of the discussion. Up till now, nothing has been said in furtherance of that promise, and these people expect others to abandon what they are agitating for and join a campaign.

“Expectedly, many people are waiting for Wike and other governors in his camp to make their position known on the crisis that has crippled the PDP. But as it stands, no one is sure of anything again. Everything now depends on the BoT reconciliation committee.

“Wike’s camp has made it clear that there is need for some restructuring within the party if they are to be part of the 2023 presidential quest. The leadership of the party also agreed that there is need for sacrifices to be made in the search for peace within the PDP. But it appears the will to do the needful is what is missing as we speak today.”

Another source, a member of the BoT from the Southwest, told our correspondent that it is only with the readiness and support of the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, that the BoT can resolve the crisis.

“It is true that the BoT met with Wike’s camp and promised some immediate actions towards reconciling the camps within the party. I can tell you that recommendations have been made to the necessary quarters and persons towards ensuring that peace returns to the party. But there is nothing the BoT alone can do without the readiness and support of Atiku himself.

“That is where the issue is now. Those waiting for the BoT to say or do something need to understand that.

“This week, a group of governorship candidates of the party from the southern part of the country expressed their dissatisfaction with the crisis within the party and lamented that it will negatively affect their chances at the election if not addressed.

“They were specific about their support for the call on Ayu to resign. They feel there is need for the people of the south to be given some sense of belonging. The development is part of the reports communicated to the leadership of the party,” he said.

The Nation also gathered that the concerned governorship candidate had at a meeting with the BoT reconciliation committee urged Atiku and the party to allow Senator Ayu to vacate office for a National Chairman from the southern part of the country.

Speaking on the current state of things within the party, a close political associate of one of the governors in Wike’s camp told our correspondent that the possibility of reconciliation is getting more and more impossible as the days go by.

According to the former principal officer of the House of Representatives, Wike and other governors in his camp have resolved not to be part of any reconciliation effort henceforth if Ayu attends any other presidential campaign rally in his capacity as the National Chairman of the PDP, apart from the ones already held.

The position, it was gathered, is in protest against alleged foot-dragging approach to the crisis by Atiku and the BoT leadership.

“The governors and Wike have been meeting on the matter because they know Nigerians are waiting for their position on the crisis as well as Atiku’s campaign. But it is not possible for them to keep waiting forever for people who are not ready to do what is needed for peace to reign.

“It is not pleasing that the party and its candidate are carrying on without resolving the issue at hand.

“Senator Ayu is still leading the campaigns as National Chairman in spite of the opposition from the south. How do we tell our people that PDP is not a sectional party?

“We may not be talking about reconciliation again if Ayu presides over another presidential campaign rally. The wait cannot be forever,” our source added.

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