- The opposition PDP is not ready to accept the condition given by Wike's camp that Iyorchia Ayu should vacate his seat as the party's national chairman
- Debo Ologunagba, PDP national publicity secretary, said removing Ayu from office would create a constitutional crisis in the party
- Ologunagba also addressed the speculations that Governor Wike is planning to dump the PDP ahead of the 2023 elections
FCT, Abuja - The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has foreclosed the removal of its national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, as a condition for peace and reconciliation in the party.
Rivers state governor Nyesom Wike and his allies are said to be those calling for Ayu’s removal to balance the North/South power equation in the opposition party.
The Wike camp had reportedly demanded Ayu's removal before supporting the party's presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
They have premised their demand on the fact that the PDP cannot have Ayu, who is from the north, and the party’s presidential candidate who is also from the North, in the same election circle.
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Constitutional crisis: PDP spokesman Ologunagba reveals why Ayu cannot be removed
Speaking on the development on Thursday, August 11, in Abuja, the PDP national publicity secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said removing Ayu from office would ignite a constitutional crisis in the party, adding that the party cannot take the risk.
He said those calling for Ayu’s removal are fully aware of the position of the PDP constitution on the matter.
The party’s constitution stipulates that when the tenure of a sitting national chairman is abridged for whatever reasons, his seat is taken by the Deputy National Chairman from the same region the ousted chairman comes from, Ologunagba explained.
He added that the PDP constitution provides for Deputy National Chairman (North) and Deputy National Chairman (South).
Going by the constitution, should Ayu be removed from office, he will be replaced by the Deputy National Chairman (North), Umar Damagum, who is from Yobe state.
Yobe is in the same northeast geopolitical zone as Adamawa state where Atiku, the party’s presidential candidate hails from.
“Those calling for Ayu’s removal ought to be aware of the implication of their demand. Are they now saying that the present Deputy National Chairman (North), who is from the same Northeast zone as our presidential candidate, be made to replace Ayu, in line with the PDP constitution?
“On the other hand, we would be courting more crisis if we sideline provisions of the constitution by replacing Ayu with another officer from the South.
“We don’t want to go into the election with a constitutional crisis. We have barely six months to the election.
“Even if you say Ayu should go today, his replacement will come from the same North.
“There had been a precedence. When (Umaru) Yar’adua became our candidate (2007), Ahmadu Ali, a fellow northerner, was the national chairman and remained so until the party won the 2003 elections," Ologunagba said.
The PDP spokesman appealed to Governor Wike and other aggrieved parties to rather seek negotiation with stakeholders while pushing for their demands, instead of taking hardline positions.
Ologunagba, however, said the PDP will continue to recognise and respect the right of every member to express opinions, which may not necessarily reflect the view of a majority of members.
Wike not planning to dump PDP, says Ologunagba
The party spokesman dismissed speculations that Wike was planning to dump the PDP.
“Governor Wike is an important member of this party. He is a man who has invested so much in this party. He has also harvested so much from the party; the party has also promoted him.
“He has said in so many fora that he is a committed party man and has remained loyal to the party since inception.
“Before the presidential primaries which he contested, he told the whole world that he was ready to respect the outcome of the elections. I have no evidence that he has changed his mind.”
He affirmed that the party was making progress in its ongoing reconciliation effort.
PDP presidential primary: Wike drags Atiku to court
Meanwhile, Governor Wike has reportedly dragged Atiku, Sokoto state governor Aminu Tambuwa and the PDP to court.
Wike is suing the party and its stalwarts over the PDP presidential primary held in Abuja in May 2022.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/782/2022, Wike and a chieftain of the Party, Newgent Ekamon, asked the court to order INEC to remove or reject Atiku from “its list of candidates in the 2023 presidential election.”