Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Dr.Iyorchia Ayu, has launched what looks like his own counter offensive against the Nyesom Wike-led G-5 governors in the party, ahead of next month’s elections.
Ayu, according to an investigation by The Nation, has shredded the lists of polls agents compiled by the governors and forwarded to the party’s national secretariat in Abuja for onward submission to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Only party agents accredited by INEC are allowed at polling stations and collation centres.
Ayu’s fear is that the party cannot entrust its destiny into the hands of those nominated by the dissenting governors.
The Electoral Act allows each party to be represented at each of the polling booths and collation centres .
The agents are required to sign the result sheets before the outcome of voting at the polling units and collation centres are announced.
It was gathered that Ayu and his team at the PDP National Secretariat decided to subject the lists of prospective agents from the G-5 and a few other states to scrutiny for what a source described as safety reason.
“Well, I don’t understand what you are trying to drive at but I must tell you that it is the responsibility of the National Secretariat to forward the lists of party agents to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ahead of the election,” the source said.
“The state chapters can assist in the compilation of such list for their states but the decision of who does what as party agents lies with the National Chairman. Don’t forget the presidential candidate too may have his own preferred people in the states. The election is his own, and he should have the prerogative to choose those who will represent him as agents at the poll.
“Moreover, there is no way we will have the state leadership of the PDP campaign committee in place and some other people will be the ones compiling lists of agents. The arrangement is that the campaign committee oversees all elections for the party. So, it is not out of place for the party to insist that all stakeholders should liaise with the PCC in their state in compiling the list of party agents.
“If that is what you mean by Ayu rejecting some lists, you need to understand that it is the normal procedure to avoid duplication of the lists in question.”
A party source confirmed the rejection of the names of some nominees to serve as agents but said those dropped are currently in service as government appointees.
The source drew attention to the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 which prohibit government appointees from being party agents during elections.
The Act however prescribed that such government appointees must resign their positions three months before the election to be eligible to stand as party agents at voting centres.
Sources also said Ayu, in response to the lists of party agents sent to the National Secretariat by PDP state leaderships in the affected states, urged them to work with the leadership of the campaign committees in their state for the final list.
A PDP chairman in one of the South South states said: “He (Ayu) made it clear it is the lists from the campaign committee that will be profiled and sent to INEC by the NWC. The decision is unusual as it has always been the state executives that compile and send agents’ lists to Abuja. We see this as an attempt to undermine the leadership of the party in our state and we understand where it is all coming from.”
The Nation also gathered that the aggrieved governors and their supporters are displeased with Ayu’s alleged decision on the matter and are poised for a showdown.
An aide to one of the G5 governors said: “there is no way we will leave our destiny in their hands when we know Ayu is not wishing us well. If they want to nominate the party agents that will work during the presidential election, no problem since they no longer trust the people in charge in the states.
“But how can they also reject our lists for other elections? This is where we smell some rats.”
Governors Samuel Ortom (Benue), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) are also in the G-5.
They want Ayu to quit as chairman on the premise that it is against the spirit of the PDP constitution for a section of the country to have the presidential candidate and national chairman at the same time.
They have excused themselves from Atiku’s campaign.
Atiku’s campaign chairman, Udom, meets Wike, Ortom in Rivers
The Chairman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council and Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, yesterday met with Rivers State governor, Wike and Benue State governor, Ortom at the Rumueprikon country home of Wike in Obio-Akpor.
Details of the meeting were not disclosed but it came 24 hours after the dissenting governors returned from their latest strategic meeting in London.
Udom, according to political sources in Port Harcourt,was in town to pacify the G-5 to join the Atiku campaign train.
The campaign council was said to be bothered about Wike’s continuous outbursts, which were daily weakening the PDP’s presidential campaigns and reducing the personality of Atiku in the eyes of members of the public.
The G-5’s insistence that they would not work for Atiku was reinforced on Friday shortly after the aggrieved governors returned from their London trip.
Wike had earlier set aside January 2023 to declare his preferred presidential candidate and mobilise support for him ahead of the 2023 poll.
The Rivers governor said on Friday that the PDP national chairmanship position must be ceded to the South as a minimum requirement for peace was not negotiable.
Udom,Wike and Ortom told reporters at the end of yesterday’s meeting that it was devoid of politics.
Wike said his relationship with Udom had not diminished regardless of their opposing stands on Atiku.
He stressed that, ideally, politics should never be allowed to create unwarranted friction between brothers.
He said: “Politics is not what will divide brothers and divide friends. Everybody knows my relationship with Udom, and we will continue to maintain that relationship. We may have different political affiliation or thinking, that should not divide the brotherly love or create a gap among us.”
Udom explained that his visit was not political, but a demonstration of brotherly love in the spirit of the yuletide season.
He said: “Actually, this is the season of love. Within this period if we don’t demonstrate that love, love not shown is love wasted. I think that is what we are trying to demonstrate, brotherly love, friendship. And then in the spirit of the season, we must visit one another.”
Ortom said part of their discussion also centered on how they could best add value to governance in Nigeria.
He said: “We are going into 2023 and we shared among ourselves how can we best add value to our government, how can we best add value to our people, how can we do things that will help add value to our country Nigeria.
“And that if there are any issues in the past which we have done wrong, we looked at them and said, look, let’s forgive one another and move forward. They are private issues.”
‘God will never give power to the wicked’, Wike replies Okowa, Tambuwal
Governor Wike, in a veiled response to statements made on Friday by Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa and Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, said God would never give power to the ‘wicked’ and those he said would sell off Nigeria in a fraction of a second.
Okowa who is Atiku’s running mate in next month’s election had said that only God and not the G-5 would determine the winner of the election, while Tambuwal who doubles as the Director General of the Atiku/Okowa presidential campaign organization,said the PDP would respond at the appropriate time to what he called the antics of the five governors.
But flagging off the construction of Ogbo-Ihugbogbo road in the Ahoada East Local Government Area of Rivers State yesterday,Wike said: “We can never play God because we know the role that God has played in our lives.
“Don’t be treacherous because you want power…God will never give power to the wicked.”
He said the G5 has the backing of God and that is why the group continues to wax stronger.
“Some people said it is only God that will decide who will be president and not G5…We are where we are because of God.
“Nobody can even breathe air if not God, not to talk about holding position.
“So, nobody can tell us that it is only God; we know that it is only God that gives power but our prayer is to our God: don’t allow those who will sell off Nigeria in one second to be in power. “Our prayer is: God, don’t allow anybody that you’ll have an agreement with and the next two minutes the person will change.
“Our prayer is: God, don’t allow those who will betray their brothers when they have agreed with their brothers to do something. God, may you never allow such persons and that is why God is still making G5 to be stronger.”
Wike said those in Atiku’s camp desired to cause the split of the G5 but it has never worked.
On the Tambuwal statement, he said: “Somebody said they will handle us when we decide. These are the things that annoy us.”
Pressure mounts on PDP for sanctions against G-5 members
Some PDP hawks are said to be pressurizing the party’s hierarchy to punish the dissenting governors.
A top member of the party who craved anonymity, said the PDP must summon enough courage to wield the big stick if the governors make good their threat to dump the party’s candidate.
The party chieftain said: “The only way the PDP can redeem itself is to apply the appropriate sanctions against these governors if they eventually declare support for another candidate.
“It would amount to anti-party activity if these governors opt to support a different candidate and the party’s constitution is very clear on sanctions against anti -party activities.
“The PDP is bigger than any individual no matter the positions they hold today. It’s a different matter if the governors had defected to another party and choose to work against the PDP. But they cannot remain on a platform given them by the PDP and still use the same platform against the party.
“Some people are making comparison between the G-5 and the five PDP governors that defected to the APC in 2014 to work against the PDP presidential candidate in the 2015 election.
“We have made it clear that there is no basis for comparison in the two cases. In 2014, the five PDP governors and other PDP chieftains officially left the party and joined the APC.
“But the G-5 governors have been working against the interest of the PDP while still enjoying the privileges of being members of the party. They are free to leave the party if that is their wish. It is abuse of privilege and no party worth its name will condone such recklessness”.
However, another PDP chieftain posited that it’s rather too late to impose any sanctions on the G-5 governors at this critical time.
The party chief, who also did not want his name in print, said with the general election barely two months away, it would be counter- productive to sanction the governors.
He said: “What sanctions are we talking about and what effect will such sanctions have at this point in time? If you want to suspend or even expel them, due process must be followed as prescribed by the PDP constitution.
“Following due process requires giving them fair hearing, which will also take some time. But we are running out of time so any sanctions at this point will be meaningless and will have no effect on them. From the look of things, the G-5 governors have become a bone stuck in the throat”.