By: IFEANYI MADUAKO
The call by certain forces for the resignation of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sen. Iyorchia Ayu, is not altruistic. It is mainly borne out of ego-tripping. The 2023 general election is about six months away.
The electioneering period will commence a few weeks from now. No serious political party that wants to wrestle power from the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government should be talking about change in the leadership of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party at this moment.
What is even the bone of contention for those agitating for the resignation or removal of Sen Ayu as the national chairman of the party? Has he committed any fraudulent act since he assumed the leadership of the party less than a year ago? The constitution of the party clearly stipulates that in the event that the national chairman resigns or is removed, his successor should come from the same geopolitical zone as him.
Have those clamouring for the shift of the position to the southern parts of Nigeria take cognizance of the constitution of the party? If Ayu is removed and his successor comes from the South, will it not have a severe adverse constitutional effect on the party going into the general election? Should the constitution of the party be by-passed or circumvented to satisfy the bloated ego of those agitating for the removal of Ayu?
He was elected for a four-year term by the national convention of the party. He was not appointed as a caretaker committee chairman. He is a duly elected and substantive chairman of the party just like the president, governors and other elective positions were elected for a periodic term.
In any case, what purpose will the removal of Ayu serve to the party at this electioneering period? Just to massage the bruised ego of some disgruntled party members? Even if Ayu made a promise to resign if the North produced the presidential candidate of the party, he has not committed any civil or criminal offence by reneging on his earlier promise. Prevailing circumstances may have necessitated his change of mind.
In 2007, Sen. Ahmadu Alli, from Kogi State (North Central) was the national chairman of the party. The presidential candidate of the party at the time, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, was also from the North. There was no agitation or clamour that Ahmadu should resign because Yar’Adua was also from the North. Alli only resigned after the election when Yar’Adua had won the election and taken his position as the president of the country. That scenario should be replicated at the current situation in the PDP.
If former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the party, wins the election and takes office as president, then the national chairmanship position should be rotated back to the southern part of the country. In a contest there are two possibilities. Victory. Defeat. What if Atiku loses the general election, would the national chairmanship seat of the party be given back to Sen. Ayu if he resigns now?
Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, was not the only presidential aspirant that contested against Atiku. Whereas other aspirants had taken their defeat in their strides with equanimity, Wike has remained implacable. That he contested for the presidential primaries and came second didn’t mean that the vice presidential position should have been automatically reserved for him.
Every presidential candidate has the prerogative to choose his running mate. Late Dr Alex Ekwueme was not imposed on President Shehu Shagari, but rather Shagari chose him instead of the so-called more popular late Chief K.O Mbadiwe. Late Abubakar Rimi was not imposed on President Olusegun Obasanjo. President Obasanjo chose Atiku instead of him. Dr Peter Odili was not imposed on President Yar’ Adua in 2007. Rather, President Yar’Adua on his own volition chose Vice President Goodluck Jonathan.
Against the foregoing background, why should that of Atiku be different? The tantrums of Governor Wike since he lost the presidential and vice presidential nominations have justified why Atiku chose Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, as his preferred running mate. The party has not offended Wike in any way by denying him certain benefits this time around. Wike has benefited from the party far more than the party has benefited from him. There are thousands of party members who have made more sacrifices for the party than Wike but these unfortunate members have not had the privilege to even be elected as councilors on the platform of the party since 1998.
The national chairman shouldn’t have referred to some recalcitrant members as “children or boys”, but it’s also impolitic and uncharitable for Governor Wike to have said that Ayu was brought from the gutters to become the national chairman of the party. How could Wike refer to a man who was the Senate President (number 3 citizen of the country) as far back as 1992 and a two-time minister as a man from the gutters? Where was Wike in 1992? That Ayu was impeached as Senate President and removed as a minister did not diminish him as a politician. A president has the prerogative to remove a minister at any point in time.
If someone like Ayu could be referred as a man from the gutters, what then will Wike call his political appointees? Wike’s tantrums are becoming nauseating. I think it’s high time that the party allowed him to do as he wishes. An implacable crying child, when left alone, would stop crying by himself. Wike has boasted that he would expose certain people before the public in due course. What’s the new thing that he would tell us? Is there anything new under the sun? Is Wike different from the people that he wants to expose? Wike should sheathe his sword and negotiate his political future with the party hierarchy.
Maduako, writes from Abuja via email@example.com