There are indications the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) might succumb to pressure from Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, and request the resignation of National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.
Party sources, yesterday, said the National Executive Committee (NEC) and Board of Trustees (BoT) are looking towards the South-West for a replacement.
Sources privy to the conversation between Wike and the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, at the London meeting, said Wike’s group insisted Ayu should step down and be replaced by the former National Vice Chairman (South-West), Dr. Eddy Olafeso, or a governorship candidate of the PDP in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje.
Also, some BoT members are said to be rooting for the former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, to replace Ayu.
It was gathered that a group in the party in the South-West is opposed to Mimiko becoming the chairman, because of what they described as his inconsistent membership and ‘nomadic disposition,’ having defected from PDP to Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) where he worked against the party’s interest, only to return a couple of years later.
A source said: “Though both of them are from Ondo State, we will rather prefer Dr. Eddy Olafeso, a one-time commissioner in Ondo State, as the new national chairman, but the Wike group are objecting to it, saying Olafeso was a man Friday of the former national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, and by extension Atiku Abubakar’s man too.”
Others, however, alluded to Olafeso’s contribution to the success of the party in the South-West in the 2019 elections, which produced Governor Seyi Makinde and several federal lawmakers in the zone, and the spirited fight in 2018 in Osun State, which laid the foundation for the emergence of governor-elect, Senator Ademola Adeleke, recently.
Another source said some loyalists of Wike are proposing Taofeek Arapaja as acting national chairman of PDP. But the names of Agbaje, and Olafeso might be presented to Atiku in the next few weeks, while Olafeso could emerge as the next PDP national chairman before October.
The PDP crisis escalated after Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, was unveiled as Atiku’s running mate on June 16, especially, since, consequence upon the emergence of the Waziri Adamawa as the party’s presidential candidate, at a period, some leaders wanted the South to produce the president.
Atiku’s emergence in the race, which produced Wike as runner-up, threw the spanner into the wheel of the party, with Wike threatening to leave, while various moves to reconcile all parties have failed.
Atiku had, last Thursday, met with Wike in London, alongside the governors of Abia, Benue, Adamawa, and Oyo, and other PDP stakeholders, like Donald Duke.
Wike’s insistence on Ayu’s resignation, sources said, would balance the leadership of the party where members from the north zones are holding all top national positions.
ALSO, Wike has tackled the former governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi, urging him to focus on getting PDP to win all elections in Kaduna.
In a statement, Wike’s media aide, Kelvin Ebiri, said his principal made the disclosure at the inauguration of the Ogbum-Nu-Abali sand-filled area and estate layout in Port Harcourt, which was performed by Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
Wike said: “This morning, I was watching Channels, I saw the former acting national chairman of the party, Makarfi, and he said he is very close to me. I don’t know how close he is to me.
“Somebody, who is close to me, I don’t know when last we spoke. I have never spoken to him for the past five months. So, if you’re close to somebody, politically, there is no way in five months you won’t have spoken to the person, is it not?
“He said, ‘Wike, you’re sabotaging other people.’ I don’t know who says the other people have not. What I want to advise Makarfi is, look, you have a job. Make sure PDP wins in Kaduna State. That is your job; leave Wike alone.
“Take it upon yourself that Kaduna falls to PDP. I don’t want to hear excuses that they rigged election or they didn’t rig election. That is what I’ve told everybody. In Kano, make sure PDP wins. In Niger, make PDP win. In Jigawa, make sure PDP wins. If you win, then see whether PDP wins here or not. It is ‘operation deliver your state’. Don’t use anybody’s state to add up.”