Only two out of the 13 governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were present at the inauguration of the party’s campaign council for Osun State governorship election.
Although all the governors were listed as members of the campaign council, only Governors Okowa and Ishaku Darius of Taraba State attended the event held yesterday at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.
National chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu and the party’s presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, were also absent, but their absence was however unavoidable, as Atiku is currently in Dubai where he had travelled to some days earlier, while Ayuis on a two-week vacation.
The absence of the PDP governors comes amid concerns about frictions within the party over the way the choice of the presidential running mate was handled.
Atiku had settled for Delta State governor Sen Ifeanyi Okowa despite Wike’s emergence as the candidate of a 17-member advisory committee.
Although efforts are being made to appease Wike over the matter, the Rivers State governor, who is in Turkey for vacation with his Abia State counterpart, Okezie Ikpeazu, has played host to leaders of opposition parties, fueling insinuations that he might dump PDP.
While Benue State governor Samuel Ortom was a guest on Arise TV from his state, other governors who were absent didn’t give any explanation for their absence.
Speaking at the inauguration, Okowa who admitted that there was so much work to be done ahead of the Osun election, said, “Osun state obviously is a PDP states. We have great leaders who have a very clear understanding of the politics in that states.
“I want to urge all our leaders and our followers in the state to please quickly bridge the gaps of divide that is amongst us, because victory stares us right in the face, God has gone ahead of us. It is for us to follow the wish of God and to deliver the state to the PDP.
“There is a lot of work to be done. It is not a fun fare, And I believe that the membership of the campaign counselors inaugurated today are capable enough to truly go out there to deliver the state to the PDP
” I want to make an appeal to the campaign Council. It’s not about been inaugurated in Abuja. The work to be done is in Osun state.
“And I want to plead with them to ensure that they go out there to Osun state, work with the leadership of the party and work with the candidate of the party to ensure that everything is put in place to deliver the PDP in that election.
“From the information that we have, the APC is already in disarray in the state but that is not enough for us to go to sleep,” he said.
Meanwhile, there was rumour yesterday about the suspension of the PDP national chairman, Ayu.
But Ayu said he remains chairman of the party.
In a statement by his special adviser on Communication and Strategy, Simon Imobo-Tswam, Ayu said the absence of the chairman from party events was on account of his two-week leave.”
Earlier yesterday, news broke on the social media to the effect that Ayu had been “suspended over allegations of misappropriation.”
Deputy national chairman (North), Amb Umar Damagun, was reportedly appointed in his stead in acting capacity following a phantom emergency meeting of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC).
But Ayu who spoke through his media aide said, “Even though we do not wish to dignify falsehood with a response, an official reaction is necessary in order to stem the tide of misinformation.
“We, therefore, state as follows: Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, the PDP National Chairman remains the PDP National Chairman.
“Dr. Ayu took a well-deserved, two-week leave on 21st June, 2022. He will be back next week to resume duties, specifically on July 6, 2022.
“A stickler for due process, Dr. Ayu formally handed over to the Deputy National Chairman (North), Amb. Umar Damagun.
“And the Deputy National Chairman has held forth admirably since that day.
“It was in that acting capacity that he (Damagun) today, presided over the inauguration of the Osun State Gubernatorial Campaign Council, headed by the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State, H.E. Douye Diri.
“If not that the authors of the mischievous and baseless Facebook posts were out to serve nefarious interests, they would have heard when the acting national chairman, Amb. Damagun, said during the ceremony today: “On behalf of my able National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, I hereby inaugurate you.”
“The general public is, therefore, advised to ignore the mischievous social media publications as they are purely the work of mischief makers and idle minds.”
Similarly, the national leadership of the PDP yesterday said Ayu remains national chairman of the party.
The party further dismissed social media reports that he has been suspended by the party’s NWC.
The national publicity secretary, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, said the PDP and the NWC is united and Ayu remained the national chairman.
He said, “Such report is completely false and a product of the imagination of mischief makers with the intent to destabilize our Party, create an impression of crisis within our ranks and mislead the unsuspecting members of the public.
“It is clear that the false report is the handiwork of vicious anti-people forces who are agitated by the stability, unity and soaring popularity of our Party under the cohesive Sen. Dr. Ayu-led National Working Committee as well as the intimidating statures of our Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates, His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar and His Excellency, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa respectively.
“For clarity, our National Chairman, Sen. Dr. Iyorchia Ayu is on a short vacation outside of the country and he officially transmitted power to the Deputy National Chairman (North), His Excellency Amb. Umar Iliya Damagum, to perform his duties in Acting Capacity, pending his return, in line with the provision of the Constitution of the PDP 2017 (as amended).
“It is instructive to state that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was duly informed on the absence of our National Chairman and that Amb. Damagun will be performing the duties of the National Chairman in Acting Capacity pending Sen. Dr. Ayu’s return.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP and the NWC is united and Sen. Dr. Iyorchia Ayu remains the National Chairman.
“The NWC therefore urges all members of our great Party, our teeming supporters, the media and the general public to disregard the said report as FAKE NEWS,” he said.
Meanwhile, Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom and former Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, yesterday raised doubts over their support for their party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP.
Fayose, who contested the May 28 presidential primary with Atiku, a northerner from Adamawa State, and lost, stated that it was the turn of the South to produce the next president.
Ortom on his part, said he was still waiting on God’s direction over whether to support Atiku or not, noting that the former vice president hasnt lived up to expectations yet.
The recent posture of the two PDP chieftains is coming amid frictions in the party over the way Atiku was said to have by-passed Rivers State governor, Wike, for the running mate position.
Ortom and Fayose are staunch Wike political allies.
Fayose who had congratulated Atiku after he emerged PDP presidential candidate, however, stated on his twitter handle:” The PDP Constitution provides for a rotational Presidency. Section 3(c) provides that the Party shall pursue its aims & objectives by “adhering to the policy of the rotation & zoning of Party & Public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness.
“The current President of Nigeria is a 2-term Northern Presidency, thus implying that it MUST be a Southern Presidency in 2023 or NOTHING. Awa ‘South’ lo kan’. Nigerians should await details soon”.
It was however learnt that Fayose’s grouse was aggravated by the failure of the party national leadership and its presidential candidate to support the Ekiti State chapter of the party during the recent Ekiti State governorship which was won by the APC.
On his part, the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, who was a guest on Arise TV, said Atiku set up the committee which chose Wike but later rejected their nomination.
When asked about the situation in his party, he said, “I was among the 17 member committee set up by Atiku and 14 of us in the committee said the person should be Wike. Unfortunately, Atiku picked Okowa, that is his wisdom. He is a nice man he is my friend I have no problem with him.”
On whether he would support the PDP candidate, he said, “I am in hibernation. I am fasting and praying. When I finish the prayers and whatever God directs me that I should support him, I will do. We expect Atiku to do more but we are not seeing that.”
Reacting to the notion that Wike has been ignoring calls from Atiku’s camp, Ortom said, “They should stop that; Atiku should go to him. Why won’t he ignore their calls? Is that not an insult? Wike is a pillar in the party. Currently, Nobody in the party has contributed more for the party to move forward than Wike .
“If Atiku was not going to honour the decision of the committee, he should have called Wike earlier and informed him. He didn’t do that. You can’t do things anyhow and expect us to be happy”.
He commended Wike for hosting leaders from other parties, just as he said, “Nigeria needs all the help it can get to get back on top. He said Nigeria requires solution that defies party lines. It goes beyond PDP and APC.”