Nigeria: We’ll Settle Our Differences Internally – Atiku

Presidential candidate of of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, acknowledged that there were challenges within the main opposition party, but said the issues were not insurmountable. Atiku said PDP would always resolve its differences.

The former vice president made the assertions in an address at the 97th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of PDP held at its national headquarters in Abuja.

The NEC passed a vote of confidence on the PDP National Working Committee (NWC), led by the party’s national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.

Apparently enlivened by the favourable atmosphere at the meeting, Ayu boasted that PDP remained a united party, which would again and again conquer against overwhelming odds.

Yesterday, also, Chairman of PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) , Senator Walid Jubrin, from the North-central state of Nasarawa, stepped down, in a move meant to allow peace reign in the party. In his stead, Secretary of BoT, Senator Adolphus Wabara, from Abia State, in the South-east, stepped in as acting chairman.

But Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Governors Forum (PDP-GF) and governor of Sokoto State, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, did not resign as the forum’s chairman, contrary to some media reports. A statement yesterday by Director General of PDP-GF, Hon. CID Maduabum, debunking the resignation, said, “Members of the PDP Governors Forum are working behind the scenes to resolve all contending issues concerning the party. To this end, a meeting of the forum will soon be convened.”

Jubrin had previously frowned on the domination of PDP’s top echelons by northerners, a situation that Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike had also groused about in his current rift with the party.

Wike and his counterparts from Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu; Oyo State, ‘Seyi Makinde; and Benue State, Samuel Ortom, were pointedly absent at the NEC meeting. And Wike dismissed Jibrin’s resignation as mere distraction.

Atiku, who recognised that there were challenges in the party, remained hopeful that “such crisis will be resolved internally”, in his speech at the NEC meeting.

The PDP presidential candidate stated, “Let me use this opportunity to thank all members of NEC for your wonderful support during the last convention, where I emerged as the candidate of our party.

“I cannot thank you enough. My promise is that I will meet your expectations and the expectations of Nigerians. Let me also use this opportunity to thank our outgoing BoT Chairman for his services and sense of patriotism for our great party.

“Many speakers have alluded to family disagreement, family disagreements are normal even in normal families as well as political families. But what I can assure you is that we are determined to resolve those issues internally.

“There are not really fundamental disagreements, it is normal. Today, PDP is the oldest political party in Nigeria. From the past republic till today, no political party has existed as long as the PDP.

“As a political party, we have our constitution, our rules and our regulations. I want to urge that no matter the level of disagreement, it should be resolved within our constitution, within our rules, within our regulations.

“We have all it takes to guide us to continue to nurture this political party, to provide a platform for all Nigerians to realise their collective and individual aspirations. Therefore, I wish to appeal to all members of our party to make sure that all our disagreements are resolved internally.”

Ayu, who survived the party crisis and plot to remove him as national chairman, said despite all odds, PDP remained united. He stated, “The NEC meeting is very important in the life of our party, because it is the NEC meeting that will start up on the campaign journey to the villa.

“I’m sure you are all desirous that we should be going in and out of the villa. But before I say anything. I want to announce to NEC that the chairman of the BoT, today, stepped down to enjoy his remaining leave. He has served us meritoriously over the years as a foundation member of the party.

“We want, on behalf of the party, to specially thank him for all his services over the years, which culminated to being secretary of the BoT and, ultimately, the national chairman of the BoT.”

In his remarks, Tambuwal also acknowledged that there were “discomforting family issues” in the party, but added that PDP was working to resolve them soon.

Wabara appealed for caution among members and urged them not to scandalise internal, resolvable problems.

Wabara said, “The PDP has an inbuilt mechanism to solve problems. We have done it several times. When people expect us to implode, that is when we become very glorious.

“I want to advise us that we should always debrief ourselves in-house, no matter what the anger is; let us deprive ourselves in-house rather than playing to the gallery. We should watch and control our utterances, because by and large, only God knows tomorrow. Because once you voice out something, it is always difficult for you to pick back what you voice out. My advice to us is that we should be mature enough to control our temper.”

Wabara, who presided over the motion that passed confidence vote on Ayu, called for a voice vote and there was not a single opposition.

Jibrin had announced his resignation to create a balance in the party’s power structure.

The PDP presidential candidate, Atiku, is from Adamawa State, in the North-east; the national chairman, Ayu, is from Benue State, in North-central; and Tambuwal, chairman of the PDP governors’ forum, is from Sokoto State, in the North-west.

This structural imbalance against the southern members of PDP had prompted disagreements and a call for Ayu’s resignation, and his replacement with someone from the South-west.

However, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, moved the motion that the NWC should be given a vote of conference and his motion was seconded by Ishola Balogun Fulani, from Kwara State.

Elumelu commended Ayu and his NWC for the governorship election victory in Osun State, saying it had seemed impossible but God, through the NWC, made it possible.

Elumelu stated regarding the NWC, “You have shown maturity. Nigerians are suffering today and PDP is the only solution and that is why it is important for the PDP to unite. We must learn to forgive one another. All of us cannot be chairman, presidential candidate. But, together, we can lead. If only we can be patient, we can lead.

“National cake of Aso Villa is too much for all Nigerians. And this cake means creating the necessary infrastructure for Nigerians, not making fake promises, like APC.

“A lot has gone wrong. Let us put behind the anger and move forward. It is the devil that is trying to stop us from winning, because they know, in the spiritual realm, we have won. We can never be distracted. We must talk to our people to collect their PVCs.”

National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Debo Ologunagba, who read the communiqué of the NEC meeting, stated that committee had approved the organogram and the structure of the presidential campaign council. Ologunagba said it was now left for the NWC to flesh up the organogram and put human face to the campaign structure.

He said, “NEC approved a unified campaign structure across the country for the PDP for the 2023 general election, which will focus more on the grassroots. NEC approved the proposed Structure and Organogram of the National Campaign Council as well as the National Campaign Management Council for the 2023 general election.

“NEC also approved the structures for Campaign Councils at the states, local government, wards and unit levels. NEC unanimously empowered the NWC to modify and adjust the structures of the Campaign Councils as and when the need arises.

“NEC received and approved the proposed structure for Zonal Reconciliation Committees to be set up to ensure that our party presents a common front ahead of the 2023 general election.

“NEC also received and approved the composition of the Manifesto Review Committee to review the Manifesto of the PDP ahead of the 2023 general election.”

The PDP NEC meeting was well-attended, Wike’s associates were not in attendance, except for Donald Duke.

Others present at the meeting were Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed; Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri; former Deputy National Secretary and former chairman of PDP in Benue State, Emmanuel Agbo; Senator Slyvanus Ngele; former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa; former Vice President Namadi Sambo; all former national chairmen – Okwesilieze Nwodo, Harilu Bello, Kawu Baraje, and Adamu Muazu.

In attendance also were former ministers, including ABC Nwosu; former Chief of Staff to President Jonathan, Mike Ogiadohomhe; Emeka Ihedioha; Sule Lamido; Senator Stella Oduah; Senator Sanusi Daggash; former Minister of Police Affairs, Maina Waziri; Senator Mao Ohuabunwa; former PPDP Publicity Secretary, Venatius Ikem; and Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

There were also former governor of Rivers State, Celestine Omeha; Olisa Metu; Kola Olagbondiyn; all members of the present NWC; and former NEC members from 1999; former governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji; former Deputy Governor of Zamfara State, Aliyu Maude; Dino Melaye; and former governor of Adamawa State, Boni Haruna.

Deputy governors of Adamawa and Benue states, represented their governors, who were said to be out of the country.

Meanwhile, Wike, yesterday, said Jibrin’s resignation as BoT chairman was a mere distraction, because Atiku had agreed with him that Ayu must resign his position.

Wike insisted that the current leadership structure, which tilts in favour of the north, was against the constitution of the PDP and a gross injustice to the south.

He however, vowed to sustain the fight for a return to healthy party structure that would allow for even representation of the interests of the north and south in the national leadership of the PDP.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Ahoada campus of the Rivers State University and flag-off of staff quarters, performed by the Oyo State Governor, Oluwaseyi Makinde, Wike noted that the current hierarchy of PDP did not take into account the interest of the south, particularly, when decisions were to be taken.

According to him, “Ayu said if the presidential candidate comes from the north, that he will resign after the convention of our party, and that the chairman of our party will come from the south. When the North-central leaders met in the house of Bala Mohammed, governor of Bauchi State, he said so there. When he met the caucus of the Senate, he told them that.

“Now, when we finished our convention on Sunday, the candidate of the party came to see me in my house in Abuja on Monday around 10:30 am. The candidate told me I want us to work together, and then he said, look, Ayu must go. I said, why? He said because when a candidate comes from the north, the chairman will come from the south.

“And I’m saying implement what you told me. What offence have I committed? It is nothing to do with Wike. It has to do with integrity. This is what he told me. I challenge the presidential candidate to deny this. If he denies it, I will go further to say so many things to Nigerians, because enough is enough. We can’t continue this way.”

Describing Jibrin’s resignation as a charade, he vowed to continue the fight for the right thing to be done in the PDP.

According to the Rivers State governor, “One ex-general went to see the BoT chairman and the candidate, too, went to see him to resign that, we’ll give you advisory position. The BoT position is already advisory. What advisory position are going to give him? That is to insult us. And all of us are here.

“Our people are there, not knowing what is happening. You think it’s Wike. It is you. It is your children. How can we be here, the chairman and presidential candidate will meet, they will take a decision, nobody represents us. Just wait, pray let them win then you will see.”

Wike accused some vested interests in PDP of being arrogant, alleging that they are being backed by someone in the presidency. He warned those haughty individuals to also bear in the mind that an APC presidential aspirant, the person they were relying on, failed to clinch his party’s ticket.

Wike said, “Why are they being so arrogant? I can tell you they are arrogant, because they believe somebody in the presidency is backing them. But, what they don’t understand is the same person in the presidency backed somebody as APC presidential aspirant and the person failed. I will tell, Nigerians at the appropriate time, who the person is in the presidency that is backing them.

“Some of you don’t know what’s happening in the country. You’re being deceived. They’ll tell you, this Wike is causing problem. Wike is not causing problem. Wike is bringing peace to this country. Wike is advocating for justice, Wike is advocating for equity, Wike is advocating for development. We have finished the presidential primaries. It is over. So, when people said you want to destroy the party, because you didn’t win primary, I think they’re sick. They have some mental problems.”

He also took a swipe at former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, who accused him of destroying the party. He said regarding Aliyu, “Nigerians may forget, but such an empty barrel, one man they call Aliyu Babangida, he came out on national television to say somebody is destroying the party, because he didn’t win the presidential primary. That’s an insult.

“This is the same man who came out on television and said that they, governors from the north, agreed to fail President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, because they felt it was the turn for the north. The same man said they agreed to make sure PDP lost the election, because they felt it was their own turn to produce the president.

“That’s a lie. He said I’m trying to destroy the party, because I didn’t win the primary. For Christ’s sake, in a contest there must be a winner, there must be a winner. I have no regrets. We contested the election very well and we are not ashamed. If Aliyu knew he was important and strong he would have picked form, let us deal with him.”

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