Uyo, the capital city of Akwa Ibom State is expected to come alive today as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa flag off their campaign . Already thousands of party faithful and supporters across the country are thronging the state-owned stadium to witness the event.
Multiple sources, however, told Daily Sun, that the flag-off of the campaign has not been without some headache to the party’s leadership which has found it rather herculean to resolve ongoing crisis between Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike and some of the governors calling for the replacement of Iyorchia Ayu as a condition for participating in paty’s electioneering .
One source hinted that efforts by the PDP Board of Trustees ( BoT) to resolve the crisis may have hit the rocks as the major gladiators have refused to shift grounds.
“While the group of five PDP governors led by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State are insisting that the National chairman, Iyorchia Ayu must be replaced, ahead of the 2023 polls, the latter has continued to insist that he would not resign his position,” the source said.
It was learnt that the peace initiative by the PDP BoT is yet to achieve the desired goal. When our correspondent sought to know if the G5 governors are likely to attend the presidential campaign flag off in Uyo, today, the source said “ No. Except there is any sudden change of plan.”
Also, a source close to Ortom said though the Benue State governor showed up at the launch of the autobiography of former PDP chairman, late Solomon Lar, in Abuja last week, he has no plan to participate in Uyo campaign flag off today.
The source said: “I am sure that if Ortom is not attending the Uyo campaign it means the G5 governors may not be attending.”
The opposition party has been enmeshed in crisis following the nomination of Atiku and the Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa as presidential and vice presidential candidates respectively.
Since then, the Wike camp which include Governors Samuel Ortom, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Okezie Ikpeazu and Seyi Makinde of Benue, Enugu, Abia and Oyo states have continued to insist that the Ayu must be replaced with a Southerner, ahead of the election, to strike a North/ South balance in the PDP, as a condition for reconcilation in the party.
Other members of the group include former PDP deputy national chairman, Olabode George, former Minister of Information Jerry Gana, as well as some former governors and former members of the National Assembly amongst others.
Last month, the Wike camp governor announced their withdrawal from the PDP Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) pending Ayu’s replacement. While Atiku has said that he cannot force the national chairman to resign, Ayu has continued to insist that he would not resign as he was elected for a tenure of four years.
Last week, the BoT led by the acting chairman, Adolphus Wabara, met with Wike in Port Harcourt, over the party crisis. At the end of meeting, the Board, which had earlier met with the other aggrieved governors, as well as the PDP vice presidential candidate, Ifeanyi Okowa, said it was better informed about the crisis, and would come up with a position soon, after meeting with more critical stakeholders.
A source close at the PDP National secretariat told Daily Sun that the BoT peace mission is dead on arrival, as both the Rivers governor’s camp and Ayu and his supporters are still sticking to the respective positions.
According to him, “the BoT peace deal will not work. Wike told them to tell Ayu to step down. They asked him( Wike) if he can shift ground, he asked them shift ground for what. Didn’t you hear what Ortom said yesterday? He told him ( Ayu) to honour his words or beg for the understanding.”
He added that the national chairman on his part is adamant.
Nevertheless, repeated efforts to speak with the special Adviser to the PDP National chairman on Media and Communication, Simon Imobo-Tswam, was unsuccessful, as his phone was switched-off as at the time of filing this report.
Regardless, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said various organs of the party, as well as the presidential candidate are intensifying efforts to resolve all the issues in the opposition party.
Ologunagba, who spoke with journalists, at the weekend, in Abuja, said the most important thing is that all the PDP leaders and governors are united in the resolve to rescue the country from the alleged bad governance of the All Progressives Congress ( APC) administration in 2023.