No fewer than four governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have teamed up as a counter force to check what they perceive as the excesses of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike in his face-off with the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and the party’s national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.
Governors Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa), Duoye Diri (Bayelsa) and Darius Ishaku (Taraba) are being backed by several notable members of the party in the evolving stand-off, The Nation gathered yesterday.
Wike and three of his governor allies, Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Benue) and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), departed for Spain on Friday night for their next round of strategy on the crisis in the PDP.
Sources said Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi might join them later. Members of the anti-Wike group are said to have resolved to resist Ayu’s resignation as the party’s national chairman.
Party sources said they have even issued their own threat to dump Atiku’s campaign should Wike and his group be allowed to have their way on Ayu’s exit.
It was gathered that Atiku was at a point considering bowing to the pressure from the Wike group by persuading Ayu to step down in the interest of peace in the party ahead of the presidential election.
Torn between resigning to his fate and continuing with the 2023 campaign without the support of the Wike camp or conceding to the clamour for Ayu to resign, Atiku is said have pandered towards the latter choice, especially after the launch of his presidential campaign in Uyo last week.
A source said: “The situation within the party as regards the fate of our National Chairman has become more complicated. While it is true that our presidential candidate is now less opposed to Wike’s demand for Ayu to resign, following the outcome of the meeting between the Board of Trustees (BoT) leadership of the party with Wike in Port Harcourt last week, Atiku had indicated readiness to agree with Wike and sacrifice Ayu.
“But there is a twist to the whole issue as some of our governors, peeved by Wike’s overbearing attitude, have warned the party not to toy with the idea of giving in to Wike and his supporters.
“I can tell you that Governor Godwin Obaseki, Ahmadu Fintiri, Duoye Diri and Darius Ishaku, among others, are now strongly opposed to Wike’s demand for Ayu to resign and have vowed not to allow such to happen under any arrangement.
“The governors are not alone in this stance. Many prominent members of the BoT and the NWC are also opposed to the thought of allowing Wike to have his way regarding Ayu.
“To them, the Rivers State governor has done his worst and should not be allowed to force Atiku and the PDP to their knees.”
The Nation also gathered that after being briefed on the outcome of the BoT meeting with Wike, Atiku instructed that effort at convincing Wike and others to support his campaign should continue.
“He was ready to compromise his earlier position and discuss modalities including having Ayu step aside for an acting chairman from the South to take charge of the campaign. But other stakeholders of the party did not waste time in opposing the proposed arrangement,” another source said.
Wike, according to one source, refused to shift ground on his insistence that Ayu must resign during the recent meeting between him and the BoT.
A PDP NEC member said the objection of Governors Obaseki, Ishaku, Fintiri and Diri to the removal of Ayu was hinged on the fears within the party that Wike’s camp would make more demands should Ayu leave.
“Beyond the issue of ego and bad timing, there are worries that Wike and his supporters may remain implacable even after succeeding with the sack of Ayu as national chairman. With the way they’ve carried on so far, some leaders of the party are insisting that it will be wrong to allow one man to hold the entire party to ransom in this manner,” the source said.
“We are telling Nigerians that we are coming to correct the lopsidedness in government. We are saying we want to offer a decisive government to Nigeria. How do we explain that we cannot manage our own affairs without being forced to accept queer conditions? How do we explain that we can be forced to abandon our own rules and constitution just because someone wants to play God?
“These are the questions some of us are asking, and as such, I am not surprised to hear that some of our leaders are already opposing the egoistic demands of a minority who are unwilling to put the general interest of the PDP over and above their personal desires and ego.”
A few hours after his latest tirade against Ayu on Friday, Wike left Port Harcourt for Spain in company with Makinde, Ikpeazu and Ortom for what sources described as working out their next move on the PDP crisis.
It was learnt that Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, might join the team later.
The G5 has been calling for the resignation of Ayu as their minimum condition for peace in the party and to join the presidential campaign council of Alhaji Atiku.
The five governors have insisted that it is unfair for the party to have the national chairman and presidential candidate from the northern extraction ahead of the poll.
It was gathered that Ayu is also not leaving anything to chance in his face-off with Wike as he is working harder at lobbying more party leaders to ensure he is not removed from office to placate the Rivers State governor and his backers.
A source said: “Ayu is not resting on his oars as he has also intensified his efforts at winning more leaders of the party to his side. Several meetings have been held with party leaders and groups.
“Last week, he met with the forum of ex-officio members of the party as part of moves to ensure he is not sacrificed in the ongoing face-off.”