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VP slot: Ayu’s fate hanging as crisis over Okowa’s selection worsens

The acrimony generated by the emergence of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as the vice-presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has continued…

The acrimony generated by the emergence of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as the vice-presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has continued to fester. 

The development has degenerated into a full-blown disagreement among party leaders with some calling for the ouster of the national chairman of the party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu. 

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Daily Trust, however, reliably gathered that it was those after Ayu’s job that were behind the speculation that the Benue-born politician has already been sent packing. 

But in a swift reaction, Ayu through his Special Adviser, Simon Imobo-Tswam, said he is still in charge. He said the report that the Deputy National Chairman (North), Amb. Umar Damagum, has been appointed in Ayu’s place in acting capacity was “mischievous’’.

He said: “Dr Ayu took a well-deserved, two-week leave on 21st June 2022. He will be back next week to resume duties, specifically on July 6, 2022.

“The general public is, therefore, advised to ignore the mischievous social media publications as they are purely the work of mischief-makers and idle minds.”

However, indication emerged that all was not well in the party which led to only two out of the 13 governors of the party being present when the National Working Committee (NWC) inaugurated the Osun governorship campaign council on Wednesday. 

The two are Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Darius Ishaku (Taraba).

A 128-member council was named for the governorship election of the state. Ten governors who are members of the party are on the committee.

Inaugurating the council, the acting National Chairman of the party, Amb. Umar Damagum, said the sole mandate of the council was to win the Osun State governorship election, adding that “Osun is key to our presidential election.” 

“So I believe with the calibre of people in this committee, I’m sure Osun will become ours. You will make a lot of sacrifices for the task ahead of you; engage stakeholders that are aggrieved,” he said.

Also speaking, Okowa urged party leaders and members in the state to work together to sack APC in the state.

He said APC “is already in disarray but that is not enough for us to go to sleep.”

As a further sign that all is not well with the main opposition party, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, while speaking on Arise TV on Wednesday, also said he was among the 17-member committee set up by Atiku Abubakar to recommend a running mate for him.

“Fourteen of us in the committee said the person should be Nyesom Wike unfortunately Atiku picked Okowa in his wisdom,” he said.

Ortom, who is also from Benue State, stressed that the presidential candidate was not doing enough to bring the party together. 

He said, “You cannot ignore a decision of a committee you set up yourself and expect people to be happy,” adding that he is presently “in hibernation and praying.” 

Asked if he would support Atiku, Ortom said, “When I finish the prayers and whatever God directs me, I will do.” 

“Atiku should go to him (Wike) and speak with him on the way forward. Wike is a pillar in the party. Currently, nobody has contributed more for the party to move it forward than Wike.

“If Atiku was not going to honour the decision of the committee, he should have called Wike earlier and informed him. He didn’t do that. You can’t do things anyhow and expect us to be happy.” 

Similarly, a former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, has insisted that power must return to the South in 2023

Fayose in recent posts on his official Twitter handle opined that the PDP Constitution provides for a rotational presidency. 

Fayose said Section 3(c) of the party’s constitution provides that the party shall pursue its aims and objectives by adhering to the policy of the rotation and zoning of Party and Public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity,justice and fairness. In apparent reference to Tinubu’s “emi lokan” slogan, Fayose also said “Awa ‘South’ lo kan”, which loosely translated as ‘it is the turn of the South’.

“The current President of Nigeria is a 2-term Northern Presidency, thus implying that it must be a Southern Presidency in 2023 or nothing.  Awa ‘South’ lo kan’. Nigerians should await details soon,” he posted.

By Baba Martins (Abuja),Hope Abah Emmanuel (Makurdi) & Abiodun Alade (Lagos)

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