As the 2023 election approaches, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has said that Atiku Abubakar, presidential flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), told him personally that Iyorchia Ayu, national chairman of the party must step down because “when the candidate comes from the north, the Chairman must come from the South”.
The opposition party has been in crisis since May when former Vice-President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar became the PDP presidential candidate.
Some party stakeholders expressed concern that Wike was overlooked for Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta, who Abubakar chose as his running mate.
This newspaper had reported how allies of Wike demanded that Ayu, PDP national chairman, should step down — as a precondition for resolving the crisis. But Ayu has since dismissed the call.
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“Ayu said if the presidential candidate of the party comes from the north, that he will resign,” Wike explained.
“When the north-central met in the house of Bala Mohammed, Governor of Bauchi State, he said so there. When he met the caucus of the Senate, he told them that.
“When we fixed our convention from Saturday till Sunday, the candidate of the party (Atiku) came to see me in my house in Abuja on Monday around 10, 10:30 am.
“The candidate told me, and said ‘listen, I want us to work together’.
“And then he said ‘look, Ayu must go’. I said why? He said because when the candidate comes from the north, the Chairman must come from the South.
“And I’m saying, remember what you told me. What offence have I committed? And people are saying Wike. It is nothing to do with WIke. It has to do with integrity. I challenge the presidential candidate (Atiku) to deny this.
“If he denies this, I go further to say so many things to Nigerians because enough is enough. We can’t continue this way.
“[referring to the Northern region] You have taken the president, you have taken the Chairman. You cannot take the two major positions of the party. You cannot do that.”