The conflict raging in Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, took a dangerous new twist on Thursday as six out of its 19 NWC members publicly announced the return of over N122m hush money paid to them, ostensibly to back the continued stay of the embattled Sen. Iyorchia Ayu as the National Chairman.
The six, including Amb. Taofeek Arapaja who is the Deputy National Chairman South, Prof. Stella Effah-Attoe the National Women Leader, Chief Dan Osi Orbih the National Vice Chairman South-South, Dr. Alli Odefa the National Vice Chairman South-East, Hon. Olasoji Adagunobi-Oluwatukesi the National Vice South-West, and Hon. Setonji Koshoedo the Deputy National Secretary, all announced the dramatic return of the ‘secretly paid’ sum, with each disclosing the receipt of up to N22m.
The scandal has eclipsed the party’s launch of its campaign this week and poses a fresh challenge to the stay of Ayu as the party’s National Chairman as it prepares for the 2023 election.
Already, a constellation of governors headed by Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike has announced their non-participation in the party’s challenge for the presidency, crippling the ambition of Atiku Abubakar who grows increasingly anxious over the unabating crisis.
With the NWC evidently disunited, more members have expressed concern that the party may post its worst showing in a national election in 2023.
“This crisis is heading in a direction that definitely will hurt our chances in 2023,” one of them told PODIUM REPORTERS. “We are at a point where even if Senator Ayu is forced out, the party may just never recover from the blow. This scandal about money, in addition to our candidate’s reputation with corruption, may render his candidature totally unacceptable to Nigerians,” he concluded.
The dramatic return of the N122m follows an earlier accusation by Governor Wike against Sen. Ayu that the PDP National Chairman received a N1bn bribe in Lagos State, an accusation the Chairman has failed to deny despite the open challenge for him to do so.