The need to give the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, adequate time to correct “a big anomaly” in the party before the February polls is the reason five aggrieved governors elected on the platform of the party are open to reconciliation, Saturday PUNCH can authoritatively reveal.
The governors, Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia states are demanding the resignation of National Chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu, on the grounds that the party cannot have a presidential candidate and its chairman from the same regional bloc.
Although they (aggrieved governors) have successfully inaugurated their respective campaign councils, the governors alongside their loyalists have been consistent in their stand that reconciliation is possible in the interest of the party if only the right thing is done.
The governors, this medium learnt, did not have personal axe to grind with Atiku and were said to be considering working with him if only Ayu would tender an unreserved apology to them given his failure to keep his promise that he would quit his post if a northerner emerged the PDP presidential candidate.
A source who works closely with one of the aggrieved governors told Saturday PUNCH that “the governors are aware of the implication of teaming up with a presidential candidate of another party. They are not blaming Atiku much even though they believe he could have done more.
“The problem is Ayu who made a promise but reneged on it. I think things would change if the man (the national chairman) can be diplomatic in his speeches. It takes nothing from him to just apologise to these governors for peace to reign,” he said.
Saturday PUNCH gathered that following the group’s declaration of readiness to embrace peace recently, Atiku called on his loyalists to reach out and negotiate with them in a bid to have them return to the fold of the campaign council.
Confirming this development, the Media Adviser to the former Vice President, Mr. Paul Ibe told our correspondent that the PDP presidential candidate had already activated a mediation team to work at brokering peace between the two parties.
He said, “When the aggrieved governors said they were open to reconciliation, we issued a statement in which His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, welcomed the idea and reiterated his commitment to mediation. As we speak, a lot of engagements are going on but we don’t want this to be a media thing.
“Talks are ongoing and we are very sure this crisis will be over and everyone, including the G-5, will come on board and join the campaign council before the February election.”
Meanwhile, an associate of Governor Ortom who does not want his name in print has blamed what he called the arrogance of Ayu in the crisis that had lingered for months.
According to him, the crisis would have been over by now if the former Senate President had been humble enough to reach out to the aggrieved party and talk less.
He said, “Ayu is the reason the party is still talking about reconciliation efforts till now. Governor Ortom called him and said, ‘Chairman, you should be happy that I am part of the G-5’. He promised to take him round to see his colleagues. But Ayu’s utterances have made reconciliation difficult. The man is too arrogant.
“He speaks as if he is the only one that went to school. You know he once called the governors children, who were not there when they formed the party. When he attends public functions, he speaks in a manner no party leader would talk. APC chairman, Abdullahi Adamu will not speak of their governors like that no matter how much they disagree with him.
Are the governors ready to sheathe their swords? I will say yes. However, the national chairman should be mindful of his utterances. As an elder, he must learn how to stay calm.”
The Board of Trustees of the party empanelled a seven-man committee to wade into the crisis a few months ago.
Their recommendations that Ayu should commit to quit after the elections was neither accepted by the chairman nor the Wike-led group.
Also, the resignation of ex-BoT chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, to pave the way for the emergence of Adolphus Wabara failed to assuage the governors who insisted that Ayu’s seat must go to the South.
Similarly, the reconciliation efforts by former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, have not been able to calm frayed nerves.
All these prompted Atiku to move on with his campaigns even as some of his loyalists have continuously insisted that only Ayu could decide what to do with the promise he made while canvassing for votes before the convention that brought him to power.