Anti-party: States’ PDP, groups list Wike, Ortom, others for sanctions

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The rivalry between the 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, has escalated as they vie for control of party structures before the 98th National Executive Committee meeting.

There have been appeals from different sectors and organs of the party, that the acting PDP National Chairman, Umar Damagum-led National Working Committee should organise an NEC meeting to, among other matters, sanction those involved in alleged anti-party activities during the 2023 election,

As the NWC last week scheduled the 98th NEC meeting for Thursday, April 18, findings by newsmen indicated that the rivalry between the camps of Atiku and Wike has been rekindled.

It will be recalled that the decision by Atiku not to select Wike as his vice presidential candidate following his victory over him in the presidential primary led to a rift in their relationship and, consequently, within the PDP.

Subsequently, Wike actively campaigned against the former vice president, throwing his support behind the All Progressives Congress candidate, Bola Tinubu, in the election.

According to sources within the party, both factions have intensified efforts to ensure their loyalists from the North Central geopolitical zone are announced as Ayu’s replacement.

One of the sources mentioned that Atiku’s camp has mobilised various independent groups affiliated with the party to write to the NWC as requested and to name Wike, former Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom; former Enugu Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; former Abia Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, and other party leaders affiliated with the G-5 group for discipline over alleged anti-party activities during the 2023 election.

A source close to the party leadership stated, “Atiku and Wike’s camps are working tirelessly ahead of the NEC meeting to ensure that if Ayu’s replacement is announced, it will be from their respective camps. However, PDP governors, despite their divisions, are exercising caution due to Ayu’s pending court case, which may delay the announcement.

“Nevertheless, stakeholders from the North Central are already rallying around their candidate for Ayu’s replacement. This explains why names such as former Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki, former Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam, and former Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu are being mentioned as potential replacements. However, there is no clear indication of which camp supports whom, due to the pending court case, ongoing consultation and other factors.

“I am aware that certain groups, evidently loyal to Atiku’s camp, have written to the party, listing Wike, Ortom, former Enugu Governor, former Abia Governor, and others as individuals involved in anti-party activities. They are urging the NWC to forward the report to NEC for appropriate action.”

Another high-ranking member of the PDP NWC confirmed that most state chapters and independent groups affiliated with the party have submitted names of party chieftains allegedly involved in anti-party activities during the 2023 election.

The source, who requested anonymity, also disclosed that the agenda of the 98th NEC meeting scheduled for April 18 includes discussions on the National Chairman, constitutional amendment, 2023 review committee, state congresses, and other matters.

Responding to our correspondent’s questions about who will replace Ayu and how, he added, “Ayu is from the North Central, so the North Central region has the prerogative to replace him if there is a vacancy.

“The constitution is very clear; if there is a vacancy, the person must be replaced from the zone where he or she comes from. However, this is currently difficult to do because the PDP is in court. Ayu has taken the party to court, and we are currently in the Court of Appeal with him.

“It would be quite easy if he withdraws the case and resigns; then, the North Central caucus can sit and nominate his replacement.”

When contacted, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said the details of the NEC meeting will unveil itself at the right time.

He said, “I don’t want to begin to speculate on what Nigerians should expect or what will happen. When we get to the meeting, the agenda of the party’s NEC will be unveiled.

“I do not want to talk about that ahead of the NEC. When the meeting is properly conveyed you will hear the details.”

On his party, a NEC member, PDP Deputy National Youth Leader, Timothy Osadolor said, “We need to conduct state congresses because the state executives tenure have expired, the electoral laws are clear, we need to put INEC on notice before we conduct such congresses.

“It is only the NEC that can grant the state executives extension. So NEC is meeting to rectify the extension of the tenure of these state executives. Also, all the committees that were set up before the election will also submit their report to the party.”

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