Peace threatened, Wike, Atiku’s men disagree over Ayu

Peace threatened, Wike, Atiku’s men disagree over Ayu

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike’s team has given a condition for holding peace talks with the representatives of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar on Friday.

Sources in the governor’s team told The PUNCH on Wednesday that Wike’s men would, on getting to the meeting, insist on the resignation of the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, as a condition for the talks to proceed.

It was, however, learned that Atiku’s delegation had vowed to reject the call for Ayu’s resignation.

The PUNCH had reported that the rift between Atiku and Wike started after the governor’s ambition of becoming the party’s vice-presidential candidate for the 2023 general elections failed following the emergence of the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as Atiku’s running mate.

According to sources in Port Harcourt, the first demand of the governor’s men at the meeting is Ayu’s resignation.

The sources added that if Atiku’s men failed to support the call for Ayu’s resignation, the meeting would not proceed.

A member of Wike’s team, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Ayu has shown that he cannot be trusted. He once said that once a presidential candidate emerges from the North, he will resign. Now, he cannot honor his own words. Can such a man be trusted?

“Ayu should leave in the interest of equity and fairness. He has to go before we agree to hold the reconciliation meeting. He is not an unbiased umpire. He worked for Atiku.”

The PUNCH reported that the meeting to settle the rift between Atiku and Wike could not materialize on Monday because Atiku’s representatives on the panel were absent.

It was learned that the Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, who should have led members of the reconciliation committee in Atiku’s camp to the meeting was the chief host during the defection of some All Progressives Congress members in Yola.

There were strong indications on Wednesday that both sides had yet to agree on the venue of the Friday meeting.

A reliable source in Atiku’s camp claimed that both parties agreed to hold the meeting in Abuja.

But a source in Wike’s camp said no one in the governor’s team was aware of the decision that the meeting would hold in Abuja.

The source further said if Ayu resigned in the interest of the party, the reconciliation meeting would be held in no other place than Port Harcourt.

“In respect of the meeting to settle the disagreement between Wike and Atiku, and as a counter to the statement that an agreement had been reached for the meeting to be held in Abuja on Friday, we are stating categorically that the meeting will be held in no place other than Port Harcourt.

“That is our position; we are unaware of the agreement that informed the claim that the reconciliation committee will meet in Abuja on Friday,” the source in Wike’s camp said.

‘Ayu won’t go’

Confiding in one of our correspondents, a member of the reconciliation panel, loyal to Atiku, said the party could not afford to remove Ayu at this time, noting that such a move would put the PDP on the back foot in the run-up to the 2023 general elections.

The party stalwart further explained that the panel expected Wike’s representatives to focus on resolving the crisis and not present conditions that may be impossible to meet.

Speaking to The PUNCH on Wednesday, the party leader and reconciliation panel member stated, ‘’The panel is empowered to resolve the crisis between Atiku and Wike but that does not mean the governor can push the party around or dictate impossible terms and conditions.

‘’Though he is important to the PDP, he cannot dictate to the party. So, the various conditions attributed to his camp such as the resignation of the party chairman cannot sail through. Removing the chairman less than eight months before the election is a recipe for defeat and we cannot accept that.’’

When contacted for a reaction, the media aide to the PDP chairman, Simon Imobo-Tswana, referred our correspondent to his earlier statement in which Ayu said he would not resign.

The Media Adviser to the PDP presidential candidate, Paul Ibe, declined comment when asked for reactions to the demands by Wike’s camp.

Addressing the clamor for the resignation of the PDP chairman, especially, the demand by a chieftain of the party, Chief Bode George, that a meeting should be convened to address the matter, the party spokesman, Debo Ologunagba explained that the party had a procedure for handling such issues.

He stated, “The party always has procedures to convene meetings, we are not even aware of what he said. The party has not received any call to that effect. You are just telling me now as news. The PDP is one, we are united.

“We are working towards the goals and mission of this party, discussions are going on. We recognize the need to be steadfast in the interest of the Nigerian people.’’

Reacting to the crisis, Olabode George, in an interview on Channels television’s Politics Today, monitored by one of our correspondents on Wednesday, said it was as if some kind of devil had entered the party.

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