BREAKING: PDP splits! Wike leads Southern caucus, as party crisis worsens
It may be a case of frying pan to fire in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has known no peace, since denying the Nigerian South of the presidential ticket of the party for next year’s presidential election, during its primaries in May this year.
Tribune, is reporting that the party has split down the middle along North-South divide, even ahead of the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting scheduled for Thursday this week, to review the state of its affairs.
The report fingers Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who lost out to former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar in the primaries, and has remained implacable, especially after denied the position of the running mate, in favour of Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State Governor, as now leading the Southern bloc.
Wike, who was said to have bested Okowa as the choice of a committee raised by Atiku, to help in the choice of his running mate, had held a meeting with the former VP, last week, which reportedly ended in a stalemate as none of them seemed willing to budge from their individual positions.
At the NEC meeting, the party is also scheduled to examine the state of the nation, while addressing the calls in some quarters for its national chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, to step down to allow the realignment of the national leadership of the party along its constitutionally prescribed zoning principle.
Following the announcement of Okowa as Atiku’s running mate, Wike and his group, which has several PDP governors as members, have since refused to work with the former vice president, demanding that Wike should first be placated over the perceived humiliation he suffered in the process.
The two groups, last week, however, agreed to raise a committee with equal number of individuals nominated from both sides to resolve the differences between Atiku and Wike, with a view to making recommendations.
Though it is not a NEC committee, Nigerian Tribune gathered that it will be interested in examining the report as parts of the overall move to proffer the way forward.
Top party source confided in the Nigerian Tribune that the besetting problem has gone beyond Wike as the southerners suspect there is a northern agenda being implemented in the party.
They cited the key leadership positions of the party, including the presidential candidate, the national chairman and the chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), all being occupied by the North and the reluctance to re-adjust the leadership structure.
The party source said: “We have opened our eyes. What we didn’t know, we thought we were doing normal politics. Now, we’ve seen a sectional agenda. So, that agenda is not proper. A Fulani man, after another eight years of another Fulani man. How do we suddenly cut into this issue and have a sense of belonging?
“We’ve now seen the Islamic agenda which we didn’t think about, we’ve now seen it openly. We are simply being led to recognise the reality on ground. We were very innocent; we didn’t think about these things. We, suddenly now, have been made aware of them.
“So, in the light of them, we are now demanding certain guarantees going forward. As far as we are concerned, we’ve been trapped, we’ve been conned. We thought all these things Atiku was doing was the need to run. But no. There is an agenda to perpetuate a section of the country in power. Now that we have found out, all bets are off, we want to take time to recalibrate ourselves.
“There is nothing like party anymore. Our brothers are now playing North versus South. We understand them and we accept the reality.”
While noting that the southern members of the party are in support of the southern governors, the source warned: “Don’t make the mistake and see it as a Wike thing. That’s where you get it wrong. That’s the old Fulani game.”
The report, further said that many southern party stakeholders had lost confidence in the ability of the NEC to resolve the issues in contention, as they believe that both the highest decision-making body and the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party had taken sides with the northern caucus.
They warned that unless the party restructures its leadership by removing Ayu as the national chairman, they may be forced to activate other option, which is to align with another presidential candidate.
However, Debo Ologunagba, was quoted as dismissing any suggestion of a North-South divide, describing the matter as mundane, saying the PDP, unlike the All Progressives Congress (APC), unified the country and was intent on rescuing it from the maladministration it has suffered in the last seven years.
Assuring that the PDP was having a conversation on how best to approach the rescue process, he noted that in the course of that, there might be differences, which the party is confident will be fully resolved.
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