The camp of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday declared that moves to force the PDP national chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, to resign before the 2023 presidential election is dead on arrival.
This was disclosed by the spokesman of the Atiku Campaign Organisation, Senator Dino Melaye, who stated this during a special interview on LEADERSHIP Podcast studio.
Melaye added that those clamouring for Ayu’s sack are from the All Progressives Congress (APC), stressing that their plan is to cause constitutional crisis in the PDP.
While he downplayed the crisis in the party which has stalled the composition of its presidential campaign council, he said Ayu will not be chairman by the time Atiku emerges as president-elect.
He also dismissed concerns that the party’s base has been depleted by the defection of Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi; his New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) counterpart, Rabiu Kwankwaso, and the angst of the Nyesom Wike-led PDP governors, expressing confidence that Atiku will win the 2023 presidential election.
Last week, Ayu rejected the demand by some PDP governors led by Nyesom Wike to resign as party chairman as a condition for reconciliation with the Atiku camp in the aftermath of the choice of Delta State governor, Sen Ifeanyi Okowa, as presidential running mate ahead of Wike.
But Melaye said, “Those clamouring for the unceremonious removal of Ayu are from the APC and they are trying to create what I call a constitutional crisis in PDP where APC becomes the beneficiary.”
He added, “The voluntary resignation of Ayu, if we are to go by the constitution of the party, it states that once the chairman is removed, he must be replaced by somebody from the zone, and by hierarchy and procedure, if Ayu resigns today, the deputy national chairman, north, by constitutional provisions is the one that is supposed to step in.
“And what they are clamouring for is that the north should not be chairman and north should not be the presidential candidate, but it has happened before where a northerner was the chairman and Good luck Jonathan became president, but immediately Jonathan was sworn in, then he was removed and (Dr Okwesilieze) Nwodo was brought in to replace the northerner and that scenario is the same thing that we should follow.
“We are not saying Ayu will be chairman by the time Atiku emerges as president elect. The moment he becomes president-elect, and I have said before – that the governors of PDP made Ayu national chairman and that is why Ayu was a consensus candidate.
At the time they were making Ayu national chairman, did they think that Ayu is from Imo? Or did they think that Ayu is from Edo state? Everybody knew that Ayu is a northerner when he was made the chairman, so let us not just because of personal interest try to create problems where there is none.
“So basically, I’m saying that is not an issue. The PDP is an organised party and we want to make sure that everybody is carried board and I’m telling you that in a matter of days the structure will be unveiled,” he said
Downplaying the crisis in PDP, the Atiku Campaign Organisation’s spokesman insisted that what is playing out is “a minor disagreement between one or two members of the party,” which is not unexpected in a democracy.
“If you are talking about the crisis between Nyeson Wike, that is also under control, and in the matter of days it will be over. PDP is going into this election as a united political party.
“I know Nyesom Wike is a responsible man and he is yet to say that he is not going to support PDP.”
Melaye recalled that Wike during the convention told Nigerians that he would support whoever emerged the presidential candidate of the party.
“I can assure you that there is no cause for alarm that PDP is going to win the next general election and Atiku Abubakar is going to be the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria come 2023,” he said.
He described APC as a dead party, adding that PDP will reclaim power in 2023.
Replying to a question on APC blaming PDP for the situation in the country, Melaye said Nigerians are looking for results while APC is busy giving excuses.
He said, “You are a Nigerian, you go to the same market and you know what life was in 2015 and you know what it is today. If you carry out comparative analysis to know what it is, in the area of insecurity the problem was limited to Yobe and Borno states, but today, no part of this country is secure to the extent that the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is being threatened with kidnap by bandits. We had never gotten to that state anywhere in the world.
“We have never gotten to a stage that the last line of defence, which is the Brigade of Guards, is being attacked and there is no remedy, there is no arrest or parading of anyone.
“You can tell me in 2015 that you flew Economy (class) from here to Lagos for N18,000, today it is N100,000. I bought diesel in 2015 for N180 per litre, today it is N800. You can tell me that Dollar in 2015 was N210 today it is N700 to a dollar. We are at the edge, and you cannot be blaming PDP for your misfortune.”
According to him, under the PDP, rail lines were not attacked, kidnapping was not this elaborate and under the Goodluck Jonathan administration, the total budget for defence, including the police in 2015 was N66bn but when Buhari came in 2015, the 2016 budget for defence rose to N99bn, to N140bn in 2017 and N240bn in 2018
He pointed out that the higher the budget, the higher the insecurity in the country.
“There is no explanation to this incapacity and leadership problems,” Melaye added.