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The camp of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday declared that moves to force the PDP national chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, to resign before the 2023 presidential election is dead on arrival.

This was disclosed by the spokesman of the Atiku Campaign Organisation, Senator Dino Melaye, who stated this during a special interview on LEADERSHIP Podcast studio.

Melaye added that those clamouring for Ayu’s sack are from the All Progressives Congress (APC), stressing that their plan is to cause a constitutional crisis in the PDP.

While he downplayed the crisis in the party which has stalled the composition of its presidential campaign council, he said Ayu will not be chairman by the time Atiku emerges as president-elect.

He also dismissed concerns that the party’s base has been depleted by the defection of Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi; his New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) counterpart, Rabiu Kwankwaso, and the angst of the Nyesom Wike-led PDP governors, expressing confidence that Atiku will win the 2023 presidential election.

Last week, Ayu rejected the demand by some PDP governors led by Nyesom Wike to resign as party chairman as a condition for reconciliation with the Atiku camp in the aftermath of the choice of Delta State governor, Sen Ifeanyi Okowa, as presidential running mate ahead of Wike.

But Melaye said, “Those clamouring for the unceremonious removal of Ayu are from the APC and they are trying to create what I call a constitutional crisis in PDP where APC becomes the beneficiary.”

He added, “The voluntary resignation of Ayu, if we are to go by the constitution of the party, it states that once the chairman is removed, he must be replaced by somebody from the zone, and by hierarchy and procedure, if Ayu resigns today, the deputy national chairman, north, by constitutional provisions is the one that is supposed to step in.

“And what they are clamouring for is that the north should not be chairman and north should not be the presidential candidate, but it has happened before where a northerner was the chairman and Good luck Jonathan became president, but immediately Jonathan was sworn in, then he was removed and (Dr Okwesilieze) Nwodo was brought in to replace the northerner and that scenario is the same thing that we should follow.

“We are not saying Ayu will be chairman by the time Atiku emerges as president elect. The moment he becomes president-elect, and I have said before – that the governors of PDP made Ayu national chairman and that is why Ayu was a consensus candidate.

“At the time they were making Ayu national chairman, did they think that Ayu is from Imo? Or did they think that Ayu is from Edo state? Everybody knew that Ayu is a northerner when he was made the chairman, so let us not just because of personal interest try to create problems where there is none.

“So basically, I’m saying that is not an issue. The PDP is an organised party and we want to make sure that everybody is carried board and I’m telling you that in a matter of days the structure will be unveiled,” he said

Downplaying the crisis in PDP, the Atiku Campaign Organisation’s spokesman insisted that what is playing out is “a minor disagreement between one or two members of the party,” which is not unexpected in a democracy.

“If you are talking about the crisis between Nyeson Wike, that is also under control, and in a matter of days it will be over. PDP is going into this election as a united political party.

“I know Nyesom Wike is a responsible man and he is yet to say that he is not going to support the PDP.”

Melaye recalled that Wike during the convention told Nigerians that he would support whoever emerged the presidential candidate of the party.

“I can assure you that there is no cause for alarm that PDP is going to win the next general election and Atiku Abubakar is going to be the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria come 2023,” he said.

He described APC as a dead party, adding that PDP will reclaim power in 2023.

Replying to a question on APC blaming PDP for the situation in the country, Melaye said Nigerians are looking for results while APC is busy giving excuses.

He said, “You are a Nigerian, you go to the same market and you know what life was in 2015 and you know what it is today. If you carry out comparative analysis to know what it is, in the area of insecurity the problem was limited to Yobe and Borno states, but today, no part of this country is secure to the extent that the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is being threatened with kidnap by bandits. We had never gotten to that state anywhere in the world.

“We have never gotten to a stage that the last line of defence, which is the Brigade of Guards, is being attacked and there is no remedy, there is no arrest or parading of anyone.

“You can tell me in 2015 that you flew Economy (class) from here to Lagos for N18,000, today it is N100,000. I bought diesel in 2015 for N180 per litre, today it is N800. You can tell me that Dollar in 2015 was N210 today it is N700 to a dollar. We are at the edge, and you cannot be blaming PDP for your misfortune.”

According to him, under the PDP, rail lines were not attacked, kidnapping was not this elaborate and under the Goodluck Jonathan administration, the total budget for defence, including the police in 2015 was N66bn but when Buhari came in 2015, the 2016 budget for defence rose to N99bn, to N140bn in 2017 and N240bn in 2018

He pointed out that the higher the budget, the higher the insecurity in the country.

“There is no explanation to this incapacity and leadership problems,” Melaye added.

Rivers People Will Vote For Who They Want – Wike

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has declared the voters in his state will not be unduly influenced during the 2023 general election, but will cast their ballots wisely.

He also pointed to the futility of efforts by those attempting to break his ranks and create disunity among his supporters in the party.

He maintained that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors working with him are only demanding that the right things should be done in the party and that agreements reached are respected.

Wike spoke yesterday when he inaugurated the Okezuo Abia Flyover along the Aba-Enugu Expressway in Osisioma Ngwa Local Government Area, and the rehabilitated Aba-Owerri Road in Aba South local government area of Abia State.

The governor said: “When I read on the pages of newspapers. They say some people are making attempts to break my ranks, I say to myself that they don’t understand the modus operandi of what we are doing.

“If they understand the modus operandi of what we are doing, they won’t waste their time. If you like, go and meet Ikpeazu; if you like, go and meet Seyi (Makinde); if you like go and meet Ortom (Samuel), and if you like go and meet Ugwuanyi (Ifeanyi), I pity them. People think that relationships can be bought with money.”

Wike stated that no propaganda can weaken his political capacity to deliver a win for whoever Rivers State decides to support with their votes in the 2023 general election.

The governor said: “Look, nobody should bother about any abuse on me. I’m too much for it. I don’t even know when I’m abused. If they like, let them put everything on social media and abuse me, at the end, we will know who is relevant.

“Politics is not to go on the pages of newspapers. Politics is not to go and buy a slot on television and speak. It is who will deliver at the appropriate time. That is what is key. If you like, abuse me from now until tomorrow; it’s your business.

“What is important is when the time comes, we will know. When the jungle matures, we will know those who can stand the crisis. We will know those who have capacity to say this is where our state will go. Ikpeazu is one of those governors who have capacity and will decide where the people of Abia State will go.”

According to him, the governors who some forces in PDP are fighting are the ones who are projecting the party, and have consolidated the goodwill of the electorate that will translate to electoral fortune.

Wike said: “Look at what they said, they said your governor (Abia State) is a boy. They said Wike is a boy, Seyi is a boy, Ortom is a boy, Ugwuanyi is a boy. But see what the boys are doing. Tell them that as men, they should show us what they have done.

“Because we say, look, agreement is agreement. You told me you will do this, now it’s time for you to do it, you don’t want to do it. Is it good?

“Now, what’s the problem? We say, my brother, you have shared and given to Atiku; you shared and given Okowa, you shared and given Saraki, which one have you given to Ikpeazu?

“What Ikpeazu and co. are saying that when you are sharing Senate president to so and so person, which one have you given to Abia.”

The governor noted that because his Abia State counterpart had submitted himself to God, whatever he does has continued to prosper.

He commended Ikpeazu for changing the narrative of governance in Abia State and working to better the socioeconomic situation for the people of the state.

In his speech, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu said the Okezuo Abia Flyover along the Aba -Enugu expressway is one of the signature projects of his administration. According to him, it is the first interchange bridge delivered in the State since its creation.

Ikpeazu said: “Our desire to construct this flyover at this point was borne out of our conviction that we will ease the movement of personnel and goods in and out of Aba, being our commercial nerve centre in Abia State.”

2023: Ignore Wike’s Camp At Your Own Peril – PDP Chieftain Tells Atiku

Meanwhile, a PDP chieftain in Rivers State, Princewill Dike, has warned the party and its presidential candidate not to ignore the demands from Wike’s camp.

Dike, in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt yesterday, said Atiku and the PDP would face embarrassing defeat in the 2023 presidential election should they go ahead to ignore Wike’s camp.

He blamed the party’s presidential candidate and the national chairman of the party, Sen Iyorchia Ayu, of mismanaging an internal crisis in the party that should have been nipped in the bud before it gathered steam.

He said: “The presidential candidate of the PDP will be playing with fire if he chooses to ignore the demands of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and his camp.

“Those people hanging around him and mounting pressure on him to call the bluff of Governor Wike are leading him to the abyss.

“It will be foolhardy for Atiku and some enemies of the PDP to think that a governor who mobilised resources, fought federal government and rebuilt the party most of them abandoned no longer matters at this crucial time.”

2023: South Must Produce PMB’s Successor – Omo-Agege, Keyamo

In a related development, APC leaders in Delta State have vowed to make sure that the presidency returns to the south after eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The APC chieftains, therefore, unanimously endorsed the candidacy of APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, insisting that power must return to the South come 2023.

The APC chieftains all spoke at the Delta Central APC leaders and stakeholders’ meeting in Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area, Delta State.

In his remarks, Senator Omo-Agege, who is the governorship candidate of APC in Delta State, said that fairness demanded that power return to the South in 2023 since President Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner, was about to complete eight years in office.

“We need to be united to be able to confront this monster.Having served as President for eight years, it is only fair that power returns to the South. It is for that reason that Delta Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has been labelled for who he is: a traitor.”

Also, the convener of the meeting and spokesperson, APC Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, said some people are using primordial sentiments of Muslim–Muslim ticket to divert attention.

Asiwaju Tinubu, he noted, will replicate his achievements as Lagos State governor in the country if elected as president come February 2023.

“The example set by Asiwaju Tinubu in Lagos is enough to tell us that he will do more. So, Ovie Omo-Agege has a huge task on his hands. He is going to first set a blueprint for development, not chop-I-chop. Just like Asiwaju did, he set a blueprint and they are still enjoying it till today,” he said.

The leaders included the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege; Minister of State for Labour and Employment and Campaign spokesperson, Festus Keyamo SAN; APC chieftain and former General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Chief Frank Kokori and founding leader and 2015 governorship candidate of APC in Delta State, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, among others.

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