State chapters of the Peoples Democratic Party have rejected calls by loyalists of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike for the sacking of the National Chairman of party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, over the brewing crisis in the party.
Asking Ayu to step aside, they said, would affect the party’s chances of winning the 2023 presidential election.
Embittered by the loss of the vice-presidential slot to Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, the pro-Wike camp had accused Ayu of supporting the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who allegedly failed to follow democratic practices in his selection of his running mate.
Atiku had selected Okowa over Wike despite the nomination of the Rivers state governor by 14 of the 17-member selection committee.
The development had polarised the main opposition party with the aggrieved members calling for Ayu’s head on the premise that the presidential candidate and the party chairman should not hail from the northern zone.
Chairmen of the party in Plateau, Delta, Kaduna, Benue, Ekiti, Katsina, Zamfara, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Gombe and Cross River states, in separate interviews with The PUNCH faulted the call for the immediate resignation of Ayu.
They said although like Atiku, Ayu is a northerner; he could only resign after the PDP’s victory at the 2023 presidential poll.
While canvassing for the zoning of the party offices for equity, the Edo State PDP Chairman, Tony Aziegbeme hinted that this should be done after the presidential poll.
According to him, the party is sorting out several issues, noting that the clamour about zoning would also be resolved.
He said, “We definitely have a presidential candidate who is from the North who has not become the President. I think if we have an elected president on the platform of our party, it becomes glaring that the national chairman of the party should come from the South.
“While I strongly support fairness because if there is no fairness and sense of justice, that is a problem. However, we ensure our presidential candidate wins next year’s election before we take this step.”
The Chairman of the PDP in Kaduna State, Felix Hyat kicked against any change of guard in the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.
According to him, removing the national chairman of the party would constitute a distraction to the PDP ahead of the polls.
The PDP Chairman in Ekiti State, Alaba Agboola, stressed that the geo-political zone that the party national chairman comes from cannot impede the progress of the party.
He expressed support for Atiku and Ayu, noting that the country should be concerned with competence and not ethnicity.
The Zamfara state party chairman, Col. Bala Mande (retd.), said asking Ayu to step down for the South to ensure geo-political balancing would be the collective responsibility of the entire party members. The Cross River State Chairman of the PDP Venatius Ikem, says Ayu doesn’t need to be forced out of office following the emergence of Atiku