PDP NWC divided over Ayu, chairman’s fate uncertain

August 29, 2022

8.2 min readCategories: News

Party in dilemma over successor if Ayu resigns, spokesman says NWC not divided


The National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party is presently divided over the demand by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, that the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, must resign before he would agree to reconcile with the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.


Top party members confided in The PUNCH on Sunday that the NWC members were sharply split between those who endorsed the calls for Ayu’s removal and the ones that were against the idea.


Wike and Atiku fell apart after the former vice-president emerged as the PDP presidential candidate and selected the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate over Wike who was recommended by a panel set up by the party.


Although the PDP set up a panel to reconcile the two men, Wike’s insistence on removing the party chairman as a condition for peace had continued to generate tension in the main opposition party.


Wike had accused Ayu of being impartial, noting that he had earlier promised to resign if a northerner emerged as the party presidential candidate.


In a bid to pacify the Rivers governor, Atiku during his meeting with him and four other governors in London, United Kingdom, last Thursday, was said to have asked Wike to give him two weeks to think about the governor’s insistence on  Ayu.


Atiku met with Wike a few hours after the governor held a parley with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi.


A member of the NWC of the party, who spoke on  condition of anonymity, told one of our correspondents that asking Ayu to resign would not resolve the crisis.


According to him, if Ayu resigns, the Deputy National Chairman, Umar Damagum, who will take over, is also representing the North.


He said, “The issue is both political and constitutional. Asking Ayu to go may not solve the political problem, since the deputy national chairman of the party for the North will still take charge of the party in the absence of the chairman.


“To solve the constitutional and political crises, the NEC  (National Executive Committee) of the party can dissolve the NWC and turn them into an interim committee. If that is done, they will just appoint someone from the region where they want the national caretaker chairman to come from as Ayu’s successor.


“But so far, no meeting has been slated for this week yet. But by tomorrow (today), we will know if there will be a meeting and the agenda will also be listed.”


According to the PDP’s constitution, if a national chairman resigns, he will be succeeded by a deputy national chairman from the same region, North or South as the case may be.


But an NWC  source close to Ayu said the national chairman would not resign from office.


While dismissing the demand for his resignation, the source said instead of calling for his exit, they should clamour for the resignation of the PDP presidential candidate.


He said, “Ayu is not resigning. Ayu is from the North-Central. If Ayu resigns now, the person to take over from him is Umar Damagum, Deputy National Chairman (North) from the North-East. If people do not want North-Central or North-East, why will they accept (someone from) North-East and North-East?


‘’The man that will take over from Ayu is from the North- East, the same zone as Atiku Abubakar. Does it make any sense? So how does he help the argument of North-North?


“Ayu was elected for four years and he has not done even one year. So why should the thought of resigning even arise? What has Ayu done that he should resign? He is not a candidate in the party, he did not beat (Nyesom) Wike in the election, Atiku did.


‘Ayu won’t resign’

The source further stated, “Ayu did not choose a running mate for Atiku; Atiku chose for himself. So they should ask Atiku to resign because he was the one that did two bad things. Firstly, Atiku beat Wike; secondly, he bypassed him in choosing a running mate. I don’t see where Ayu has come into this.


“They should tell Atiku to resign, not Ayu who came on a national assignment to rescue the country from the grip of the locusts.”


There are indications that the crisis plaguing the PDP might have taken a worse turn with the NWC members unable to agree on the way out of the challenge.



The PUNCH gathered that the NWC was strongly divided along the regional and personal loyalties with some beholden to the PDP presidential candidate and governors Wike, Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Samuel Ortom of Benue State and others.

Sources disclosed that the divided loyalty in the party had prevented the NWC from taking a common stand on how to address Wike’s spat with Atiku.

A source stated, “The National Working Committee is filled with the loyalists of the governors. This is because they (governors) bankrolled the election of some of the NWC members and that is why the NWC members have been unable to take a common stand on the crisis. Each member is actually fighting for the interest of his sponsor.


“Within the party, it is common knowledge that Ayu is supporting Atiku because the presidential candidate was instrumental to his election as party chairman. When Ayu had issues with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the more than N400m arms fund he received from the former Goodluck Jonathan administration for the 2015 election campaign, it was Atiku that bailed him out.”


Our correspondent also gathered that the Deputy National Chairman, North was also on Atiku’s side.


Another party source stated, ‘’On the other side, we have the National Secretary, Samuel Anyanwu, who got his position by virtue of Wike’s benevolence; ditto for the Financial Secretary, Daniel Woyegikuro. You also have the Deputy National Chairman, South, Taofeek Arapaja,  who has never hidden his loyalty to Governors Makinde and Wike.


“So, there is a serious division in the NWC between Wike’s men and those of Atiku and other governors. Some governors are for Atiku and some are not. They have a sharply divided NWC working at a cross-purpose. About five governors have fallen out of favour with Atiku and they also have their loyalists in the NWC.


“As it is now, it is a deeply divided house and the PDP is going to battle (election) with a divided house which would affect Atiku’s chances. That’s why he went to meet Wike (in London).’’


The PUNCH further learnt that the push for Ayu’s removal may not sail through due to the division within the NWC.


“Some PDP leaders believe that the party chairman should make a sacrifice and leave but those opposing it said if Ayu leaves, Atiku might want to push for Damagum to take over and this may not be acceptable to Wike in which case, the PDP will be more divided.  The party does not have enough time to solve any issue that might emerge from the division,’’ a party stalwart stated.


When asked about the division in the NWC as a result of the allegiance of the members to Atiku, Wike and other governors, and if the crisis in the party would not affect its chances in the 2023 poll, the PDP national chairman declined to comment.


He said, “No, I’m not talking to the press for now. The  PUNCH is doing a good job, very professional. When I’m ready to talk to the media, I will let you know, very soon.”


But the Deputy National Chairman, Arapaja, said he had never hidden his loyalty to the Rivers governor.


‘Loyalty to Wike’

He said, ‘’What is wrong with being loyal to Wike? My loyalty is to both Makinde and Wike. It is obvious, everybody knows that. There is nothing wrong with being loyal. I am loyal to them but I will do everything in defence of the party. But nobody can doubt my loyalty to Wike and Makinde.’’


When asked about his alleged loyalty to Wike, the PDP national secretary said, “You can’t ask me about my loyalty to Governor Wike; I am the national secretary of the PDP. If you have any questions, talk to the party spokesman.’’


But the PDP spokesman, Debo Ologunagba, denied that the NWC members were loyal to some governors, noting that their allegiance was only to the party.


He noted, “Loyalty to a candidate in a party is normal but equating that loyalty to a party is not correct. We have our loyalty to our leaders in the party and we recognise their contributions to the party. The NWC is one.


“The governors  were instrumental to the emergence of the NWC. Of course, we respect and honour them. But you cannot equate the loyalty to the governors who have contributed immensely to the party to that of the loyalty to the party. The party is supreme to every member of the party. The NWC is one with all the loyalty to the governors and leaders of the party.’’


On when the National Executive Committee would meet, Ologunagba said no date had been fixed, adding that the NWC meets regularly.


He disclosed that the party would be receiving a former Kano State Governor, Ibrahim Shekarau, into the PDP on Monday.


The Spokesperson for Atiku Campaign Organisation, Daniel Bwala, said the NWC members were loyal to the party, not individuals.

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