PDP making plans to punish top G-5 members for betraying party- Insider reveals.
The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Nigeria is working towards bringing an end to the crisis that engulfed the party since the conduct of its presidential primary in May, 2022, Daily Trust Saturday has learnt.
Party sources reveals that even though there were disagreements, among the options being considered was wielding the big stick against ex-Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his erstwhile G-5 governor allies.
The crisis stemmed from Wike’s defeat and the refusal of the eventual flagbearer, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and the PDP leadership to field Wike as Atiku’s running mate in the last general elections.
Wike, his G-5 allies, also known as the Integrity Group, not only refused to work for the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku, but worked for the eventual winner and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu.
The PDP, then led by Iyorchia Ayu, whose reign as its national chair was truncated by a court ruling, suspended or sent some top members out of the party over alleged anti-party activities.
Many of those affected are either directly connected to the G-5 governors or, like the dissident governors, openly supported the presidential candidates of other parties.
While a member of the G-5, ex-Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, was referred to a disciplinary panel, a former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, a known ally of Mr Wike, was suspended from the party. But both decisions were later reversed by the party.
Daily Trust Saturday further reports that the crisis in the main opposition party then took a new twist when Wike dared the leadership to suspend him.
Wike, who was answering questions from journalists, said the party’s leadership knew what he was capable of.
He said, “I beg them today, they should not waste time to suspend me.
“They should call a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting now and say, ‘You are now suspended from the party.’ Anything you see, you take. They know what I will do.”
While he had accepted the outcome of the presidential primary in good faith, Wike insisted that Senator Ayu must resign as the party’s national chairman for the sake of equity since a Northern presidential candidate had emerged.
His actions since then, however, have been perceived by many as anti-party activities amid speculations that the PDP leadership may be planning to sanction him.
Although Wike has been rewarded with the position of the Minister of the FCT by the APC-led administration, PDP which he has been a member since 1999, is still trying to wriggle out of the crisis exacerbated by the loss of the presidential election.
Disagreements over line of action
That previous efforts by leaders of the party to settle the issue of Wike and his allies in the party had been frustrated by those loyal to him, ranging from some members of the NEC, National Working Committee (NWC) to some chieftains of the party.
Siminlalayi Fubara, Rivers PDP governor-elect then, and his deputy, Ngozi Odu, who were backed by Wike in the March 18, governorship election, had in April sued the party and its executives over an alleged plan to suspend or expel them over their association with the then outgoing governor.
Consequently, a Federal High Court, Abuja, in July, issued an order restraining the PDP from suspending or expelling members perceived to be loyal Wike.
However, analysts say his inauguration on Monday as a minister in the ruling APC administration may finally pave the way for the party to put the crisis to rest once and for all.
After a meeting of the PDP Governors Forum recently, Atiku and the party leadership reportedly warned that going forward they would not tolerate “anti-party activities and sabotage,” adding that, “No individual or group of individuals will be allowed to undermine the unity of the party and its processes.”
In a communiqué read by Senator Bala Mohammed, Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum and Governor of Bauchi State, they stated that a healing and reconciliation process was in progress and yielding results.
However, it has been gathered after the meeting that stakeholders present were unable to agree on the appropriate action to take on the situation, even as some known members of the Integrity Group were also in the meeting.
It was learnt that while Atiku and his loyalists who met earlier had wanted a change of guards and their own to replace the suspended Ayu, lack of consensus at the expanded meeting meant that the issue remained unresolved.
A highly placed source within the party said that the party would not allow Wike and, especially his allies in the party, to carry on the way they liked, adding that actions would soon be taken to bring them in line or expel them from the party.
The source said, “The PDP will soon suspend or even expel him; they are just waiting for him to be inaugurated as a minister. The party also wants to be diplomatic because many of his people are in the party.
“So many things happened during and after the elections. There were divisions after the presidential primary and the election itself. There is serious disaffection in the party. So, in such a situation, you have to tread carefully, that is what the leaders of the party are doing. The moment he is sworn in as a minister, he might have to make the decision himself or the party will assist him to do that. Because the party did not send him there, he is not representing the party. So, if he does not move out of the party, the party will act.
“You saw that he went to visit Ganduje, the APC national chairman, so it is either he is also trying to make his transition into the APC smooth or all those things will be used to push him out of the party. But I can tell you that once the ministers are inaugurated and he (Wike) takes office, the party will act.”
Speaking on the G-5 and other allies of Wike, the source said his loyalists within the party would also have to take a stand either to go with him (Wike) or remain and be loyal to the party.
He said, “I can tell you the party will not continue to pamper these people.
“In the case of the G-5, they have to make up their minds, but many of them have not shown that they want to follow Wike to the APC. Ortom for example did not work for Tinubu. He worked for Peter Obi. He is the leader of the party in Benue State; he will stay in the party.
“Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, worked with Tinubu, but going forward, what will be his next line of action? Those are the things that will determine what will happen because the party will treat each case on its merit.
“Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in Enugu has produced a governor, he will not abandon him, but he will have to decide, the same way with Okezie Ikpeazu. So, things will soon take shape.”
But the Deputy National Youth Leader of the party, Hon Timothy Osadolor, said that the issue of Wike had been settled and there was no need to dwell on it.
Osadolor noted that having accepted to serve in the Tinubu/APC administration Wike was already a member of the party and there was even no need to suspend or expel him from the PDP.
He said, “Wike cannot be in APC and PDP at the same time, he has left PDP, and so you don’t need to suspend a man who has already left your party.
“Since the presidential campaign council was put together nobody has sighted Wike in any PDP function either at the national or regional, it is only in Port Harcourt the one he organises by himself.
“What we know at the level of the NWC and the leadership of the party is that Wike is a member of the APC, and he cannot say he is not a member of the ruling party. We saw him with the Chairman of his party, Umar Ganduje. That he has not been formally unveiled as a member of the party does not mean he is not part of the party. There is no need to suspend a man who has left your party. It will be an exercise in futility; the man has left.”
Speaking on the reconciliation efforts of the party, Osadolor said, “Our doors are open for discussions, and even the state chapters, zonal levels are already meeting with those who feel the PDP family and the umbrella is good enough. They are already communicating with the party. But those like Wike, who left, we wish them well. The PDP will survive with or without them.
“But for those who have genuine cases of grievances and decided to stay aloof during the last elections, the party is speaking with them, because they are sincere enough to want to reconcile with the party. We are more than willing to work with them.
“But for those who are hell-bent on going ahead with whatever they want, the party wishes them well wherever they are going to. We are a big organic party and have more than enough capacity to go through whatever it is.”
He added, “If the judges of the PEPT do what Nigerians expect of them, we expect that our mandate will be returned to us. With this in mind, it is better for all to close ranks with the party.”
Why we delayed action – Ologunagba
Speaking on why the party hierarchy is foot-dragging on dealing with Wike and his allies following their open opposition and anti-party activities, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said, “The party will tackle the matter at the appropriate time.”
Ologunagba also told Daily Trust Saturday that the party was more concerned about the present situation bedeviling the country and how Nigerians could enjoy the dividends of democracy, adding the party would tackle the issue at the right time.
Wike ready to cooperate – Ganduje
Reports that Ganduje last week said Wike was ready to cooperate with the PDP.
Ganduje, who spoke at the APC national secretariat in Abuja when a former Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, paid him a visit, said, “You know Wike is an honourable minister-designate. So, he came, we discussed because I was looking for him to congratulate him on that, and also he came to congratulate me and we discussed that when he becomes minister fully he would work very hard in order to move the ministry he is given forward. He is ready to cooperate.”
Ganduje also said his leadership was in talks with some opposition parties to collapse their structures and merge with the APC ahead of the 2027 general elections.
Source: Daily Trust Saturday