The lingering crisis between the top echelon of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) and the party’s five governors – Nyesom Wike of Rivers; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu; Seyi Makinde of Oyo State; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia and Samuel Ortom of Benue State who alongside other aggrieved members of the party formed ‘the Integrity Group’, has become more deepened and the hope of reconciliation is flying away.
With less than 30 days to the presidential election, it is like the two belligerent groups are now ready for a showdown as there seems to be no meeting point again before the election.
The G5- Governors, who through their leader, Governor Wike had boasted that it will not support Atiku Abubakar in the presidential election and that it would announce the presidential candidate they will support in this year’s election, have not been able to do so.
It was gathered that the five governors have not reached a consensus on the choice of a presidential candidate. While Wike and Makinde prefer APC Candidate, Bola Tinubu; Ortom is rooting for Peter Obi of the Labour Party and both Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu are being careful not to make their choice known because of the South East people’s support for Obi.
However, while the G5-Governors are still deliberating on their choice of a presidential candidate, the National Working Committee of their party, the PDP is also looking at a way to hammer them (G5- Governors) and other members of the Integrity Group.
One of their plans came into the open penultimate Friday, when it wielded the big stick as it suspended some chieftains of the party in Ekiti, Enugu and Imo states over allegations of anti-party activities.
The party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba disclosed the suspension of the party chieftains from Ekiti comprising Emiola Jennifer, Ajayi Samuel, Olayinka Olalere, Akerele Oluyinka and Fayose Oluwajomiloju John. Others are Ayeni Funso and Ajijola Oladimeji.
Also suspended are the former Governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, and Chris Ogbu from Imo State.
Ologunagba stated that all the suspensions were without further delay, commencing, Friday, January 20, 2023.
In a related development, the PDP also dissolved the executive of its Ekiti State chapter.
The party’s spokesperson who confirmed this also in a statement said, “The NWC also approved the appointment of Sadiq Obanoyen as Chairman of the state party’s caretaker committee.
Competent sources at the PDP Headquarters revealed that the development was as a result of absence of the suspended members at the PDP Presidential Campaign rally in Ado Ekiti recently, while that of Nnamani has to do with his open support for Tinubu.
Those suspended in Ekiti are mainly the members of Dr Ayodele Fayose’s group in the Ekiti PDP. Fayose whose son, Jomiloju is contesting the House of Representatives election on the platform of the PDP is a member of the Integrity Group. He has also been openly supporting the APC Presidential Candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
It was further gathered from a very reliable source that the same treatment awaits the PDP State Executive in Rivers State as well as the national assembly candidates if they refuse to attend the presidential campaign rally already slated for February 11, 2023 at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, Port Harcourt.
It could be recalled that Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has finally approved the use of Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt, for the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to hold his campaign on February 11 this year, after his initial refusal.
He has however explained that the stadium approval granted at no cost to the Presidential Campaign Council, PCC of PDP in the state would be accessible to the council 48 hours to the February 11, 2023 presidential campaign.
The party, it was gathered is still watching whether Governor Ugwuanyi who is a senatorial candidate in Enugu State will attend the PDP Presidential Campaign in Enugu and whether Governor Ikpeazu who is also contesting the senatorial race in Abia will attend the PDP Presidential Campaign in the state before it will wield the big stick by suspend both of them and thereby truncate their senatorial ambition.
Another plan being orchestrated by the National Working Committee of the PDP to deal with the G5 Governors is on the approving list of the party’s agents at the polling stations during the forthcoming elections.
It was gathered that the NWC has vowed that it will not approve the polling agents list submitted to it by the G5 Governors for the elections in their states, rather it will appoint people loyal to the party.
While the party is having its plan, the G5- Governors too are bracing up for the battle ahead.
Wike, who is the leader of the G5- Governors and by extension, the leader of the Integrity Group has threatened a showdown with the PDP NWC over the suspension of some of his political allies in the PDP for alleged anti-party activities.
He vowed to challenge, in particular, the dissolution of the Ekiti State Executive Council of the party believed to be loyal to a former governor of the state, Mr. Ayodele Fayose. Fayose is an ally of the Rivers State governor.
Wike told the National Working Committee of the PDP that its decision to suspend his supporters was off course.
Former governor of Enugu State, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani who was similarly axed in the suspension gale, has also protested the action against him.
He said he was neither told his offence nor given an opportunity to defend himself before a disciplinary action was taken against him.
It could be recalled that Wike and his colleagues in the G-5 are opposed to PDP’s ceding of its presidential ticket and national chairmanship of the party to the North.
They consequently opted out of the campaign of the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and called for the resignation of the chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.
Wike, speaking during the inauguration of the State PDP Campaign Council in Bori, Khana Local Government Area of the state, said the suspension of party members loyal to the G-5 governors would not help the PDP in the February/March elections.
He branded the dissolution of the Ekiti State executive committee of the PDP as an act of tyranny that would be challenged in court.
He dared Ayu to suspend him or any of his colleagues in the G-5.
He said: “Let me also use this opportunity to say to Iyorchia Ayu and his team, your dissolving Ekiti State Exco will not help you in any way. Your suspending people will not help you in any way.
“The battle line has been fully drawn. As I speak to you, we will do everything legally possible to challenge any decision we know is illegal.
“So, don’t think you can threaten people by saying so, so persons have been suspended. Rubbish! Complete rubbish! We are above that level that you think you can threaten anybody; intimidate anybody with whatever illegal decision you have taken.”
Continuing, Wike said: “We are waiting for you to announce my own and any other of my friends. Like I have said, when a man says you will not sleep, he too, will he sleep? Will Ayu sleep? Will those his cohorts sleep?
“So don’t worry, we have the capacity to pay back. We have the capacity to tell you that enough is enough.
“You are doing what will give you more headaches as far as this election is concerned. We are watching and we are waiting for you to announce suspension of more of my friends.
“When a man says you will not sleep, will he sleep too? Will Ayu sleep?”
The Seven National Assembly candidates of the PDP in Ekiti State have also rejected their suspension by the party’s NWC.
They all dismissed their purported suspension “as a joke, a grave misstep by the party leadership and a ploy to distract them from pursuing their aspirations”.
They said: “Section 57 (6) of the PDP constitution is clear and unambiguous. It states that ‘Any decision taken against a member who has not been informed of the charges against him or has not been given any opportunity of defending himself shall be null and void.’
Also, Section 33 of the Electoral Act is very clear on candidates for elections and as it is, we remain candidates in line with law and we shall remain focused. Our party is a constitutional institution and we will ensure it obeys its constitution.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 33 of the Electoral Act provides clearly that ‘A political party shall not be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted under Section 29 of this Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate.’
“We are therefore unperturbed. Rather, we are being propelled to work harder to ensure victory in the elections while we explore appropriate means of handling the issues.
“Ultimately, it will be victory for us as candidates of the PDP”.
They appealed to members of the party and supporters across the 177 wards in the state to remain calm in the face of the alleged injustice.
Dr. Nnamani who has been expressing support for the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has also responded to his suspension.
In the response entitled ‘To All My Teeming Supporters’, he said: “Earlier tonight, the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) announced the decision of the National working Committee (NWC) of PDP suspending me from the party.
“I have since been inundated with telephone calls and messages from various persons, seeking my clarification on the matter.
“Just like every other person, the decision and announcement of my purported suspension from the PDP came to me as a rude shock and huge surprise.
“I was never at any time notified of any petition or complaint against me or informed of the grounds that formed the decision of the NWC of the PDP to suspend me from the party.
“I was not also invited to any meeting, proceeding or hearing of the NWC of the party where my supposed offence (s) was/were discussed. I was, therefore, not afforded the opportunity to make representations on my behalf at any meeting where the proposal and decision to suspend me from the party was made.
“My right to fair hearing was consequently violated against the provisions of the Constitution of the party, especially in disciplinary proceedings. More importantly, the Superior Constitution of the FRN.
“I therefore appeal to all of you to remain calm and law abiding while we continue our campaign to a hopefully victorious conclusion. To God be the glory.”
Speaking with THEWILL, a Public Affairs Commentator, Theophilus Ajiga said the next few days may be hectic for both the PDP and its aggrieved five governors.
“We are witnessing a climax in the crisis between the two camps. It is sad that the PDP has not been able to resolve the crisis since all these days. The way it is, there may be a lot of court cases from these aggrieved members.
“The way they are going about it, they may be given chances to other parties in the election. Normally by now all efforts should be directed at winning the election and not fighting each other within the party.
“We will watch how it will play out, but definitely this will not help the party”, Ajiga said.