Pressure is being mounted on the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, to resign for peace to return to the main opposition party.
It was gathered on Sunday that the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) might ask him to quit for a candidate from the South.
Naija News reports that Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his allies, known as the G-5, have called for Ayu’s removal or resignation as a condition to begin peace talks and be involved in the presidential campaign of the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
The group had accused the PDP chairman of being partial during the party’s presidential primaries, asking Ayu to give way to a southerner after promising to resign if a northern presidential candidate emerged.
According to The Nation, the PDP BoT members are set to meet with Wike and his group tomorrow in Port-Harcourt, the state capital, to deliberate on options for resolving the crisis of confidence in the party.
It is, however, unclear if Atiku or Ayu will accept the recommendation of the BoT led by former Senate President Adolphus Wabara.
Sources revealed that Ayu was planning an emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) to discuss the decision of some members to return the money paid into their bank accounts by the party in controversial circumstances.
Sources said the decision to ask Ayu to step aside was arrived at when some influential BoT members met in Abuja last Friday.
It was gathered that the affected leaders warned against ignoring five of 11 PDP governors and concluded that the party’s chances in the 2023 presidential poll could be jeopardized if the protracted crisis was not resolved.
While some BoT members were against succumbing to Wike’s demand, the Committee placed more concern on resolving the crisis.
The source said: “We were at a crossroads. We knew Wike and others have been contemptuous of our candidate and undermining PDP’s chances, but we need them to win the presidency.
“Our greatest headache is losing the support of five out of 11 PDP governors because we want to retain Ayu.
“The mess over the housing allowance paid to the members of the NWC has created a reputation challenge for the party.
“We resolved to advise Ayu to put the interest of the party above his own by resigning or stepping aside. It is a great sacrifice, but he will remain a hero.
“Some leaders are even suggesting that Ayu can be compensated with the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation if Atiku wins.
“The way we are now, Ayu is the issue in the party, and we must address the challenge around him squarely. He has to leave the office for a candidate from the South.”
Another BoT member said: “At our meeting, we made up our minds to go the whole hog to appease Wike and other governors who are aggrieved and other leaders.
“We will send our advisory to all the organs of the party to consider the recommendation dispassionately.
“It is left to these constitutional organs to accept or reject our advisory.”
It was learned that while Wike’s camp is banking on the replacement of Ayu by the Deputy National Chairman (South), Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, some party leaders have argued Ayu should be replaced by Deputy National Chairman (North), Umar Damagum, as the party’s constitution states.
An old BoT member told The Nation: “We are constrained by the constitutional provision. But some of our leaders are saying that to allow a Southerner to succeed Ayu, the Deputy National Chairman (North), Umar Damagum, must resign too.
“Wike’s camp may favour the resignation of the Deputy National Chairman (North) too. This may lead to a deeper crisis in the party.”
He added: “Atiku’s fate in the party will now be left in the hands of Wike’s camp, which has produced the National Secretary of the party, Sen. Samuel Anyanwu. It will be dangerous to have the entire party structure under the control of Wike’s group.
“Some of our leaders are also uncomfortable with Arapaja on how he handled the housing allowance matter. They can’t understand why he openly challenged Ayu on the rent stipends.
“This is why BoT members have been consulting on the advisory on Ayu that they are pushing.
“I think Tuesday’s meeting in Port Harcourt may lead to a far-reaching negotiation.”