Despite its high-profile billing, it appears the London meeting between presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar and the Wike-led faction of the PDP may have done little to quell the fire raging in the party as its National Chairman, Sen. Iyorchia Ayu, has denied reports of his impending resignation in accordance with the reconciliation demand of the River Governor.
Governor Wike has in the past few months trained the fire of his criticism on the candidate and the chairman over the conduct of the primary process that produced the former, alleging bias and collusion.
To seize fire and return to the fold as preferred by Atiku who dreads the threat a possible mutiny down sought poses to his presidential ambition, Wike has demanded the resignation of Chairman Ayu on the basis that his continued stay, after the emergence of a northern candidate, offends the regional balance that informs the party’s leadership composition.
Wike was said to have insisted on this demand at the London meeting, with indications that a desperate and increasingly forlorn Atiku gave in to it. This prompted reports of possible replacements that made the rounds earlier this week.
However, Ayu has dismissed notions of his resignation with scathing criticism of Governor Wike and his team of rebels, including serving governors, whom he berated as “noise-making children”.
Speaking on BBC Hausa in an interview, Ayu said: “I didn’t commit any offence; I’m only reforming the party so I’m not bothered with all the noises. I know I’m doing my work and I didn’t steal any money so I see no reason for all these talks. When we started PDP, these children were not around. They are children who do not know why we formed the party. We will not allow any individual to destabilize our party.”
His comments and refusal to step down dampened the hopes of party faithful who believed that the meeting in London would help unite the party and maintain its focus on securing victory at the polls next year. Despite the Chairman’s reductive description of Wike and the governors allied with him, the Rivers Governor remains an influential figure within the party. Recent projections have shown his support to be crucial to the party’s victory chances next year.
Even if Atiku wishes for Ayu to step aside to facilitate peace, it remains unclear how that could be implemented or satisfy Wike’s demand of a return of the position to the southern region given the latter’s status as a duly elected chairman and a clause in the party’s constitution mandating resigning officials to hand over to a replacement from their region.
What is clear, however, is that the crisis has heavily distracted the PDP from its primarily electoral objective and could cause a damaging implosion that would pave the way for an easy rout by the ruling APC next year.