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Fresh Crisis Hits PDP Ahead 2027 Presidential Ambition Of Atiku | Citizen NewsNG

ByCitizen NewsNG

Dec 3, 2023

Ex-VP backs Ayu’s legal battle to return as chair
Bala Mohammed, other governors plot for 2027
Saraki yet to yield to pressure to lead party
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is set to re-launch his political career following his defeat in the February presidential election and the subsequent dismissal of his petitions by the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) and the Supreme Court.
Atiku, who is strongly believed to be warming up already for the 2027 race, is currently plotting to retain his grip on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
But he and his loyalists are uncomfortable with the party’s acting National Chairman, Ambassador Iliya Damagum.
They accuse Damagum of being loyal to the G-5 axis of the party led by the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike.
It was learnt that all political options to get rid of Damagum, including the forceful return of the National Secretary, Senator Sam Anyanwu, have failed to materialise.
Party sources told The Nation that one of the major reasons the plot against Damagum has failed so far is the backing of Wike, the G-5 and some members of the PDP Governors Forum. The Forum is led Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed, who is interested in the 2027 presidential race himself.
Bala Mohammed contested the PDP presidential ticket with Atiku last year and came fifth with only 20 votes.
He returned to his state and was nominated unopposed for the governorship election following the ‘withdrawal’ of Ibrahim Kassim, who until then was the Secretary to the State Government.
It was gathered that faced with the strong opposition in the PDP, Atiku and some party leaders are giving full support to the suspended National Chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, to win his case for reinstatement.
Although Ayu is no longer keen to return to office, Atiku and his supporters are of the view that a fight-to-the-finish in the court is the only option left to rescue PDP from Wike and the G-5.
Sources said the cold war in the party and the pending court case accounted for the reluctance of a former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to succumb to pressure to become the next national chairman of PDP.
Saraki was said to be “not keen” to preside over a divided party.
He is allegedly biding time to watch the direction the pendulum of the PDP crisis will swing.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that since the former Vice President lost his election petition against President Tinubu in the Supreme Court, he has shifted his attention to 2027.
Findings revealed that one of the 2023 poll challenges, which Atiku camp identified, was not being in full control of the party.
In spite of Atiku winning the National Secretary of the party, Senator Anyanwu to his side from the Wike-G5 group, he has not got much going for him in the party.
Anyanwu, who could not salvage Atiku’s loss in the South-East, was himself defeated by Governor Hope Uzodinma in the last governorship poll in Imo State.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Having lost the last Presidential Election, Atiku is plotting to have a firm grip of the PDP to be able to contest again in 2027. He still believes that he has a better chance.
“That is the main reason why he is yet to relocate to Dubai in the UAE. Contrary to his claim, he is not protecting any democracy in the country.
“The former VP and his team recognised that his major setback in the last election was not being able to totally control the PDP structure. There was internal dissent in the party but without sanctions.
“He used what I would describe as a make-shift PDP structure for the last presidential election.
“During the campaign and the general election, the party was weak, and after the poll, the party was not strong enough to assail him.
“The Atiku camp is unhappy with Damagum for pandering to the whims and caprices of PDP leaders like Wike.
“Atiku’s major obstacle is that the party’s leadership is being controlled by two groups, including Wike/the G-5 and the PDP Governors’ Forum, which is headed by Governor Bala Mohammed, who may challenge him for the party’s ticket for 2027 poll.
“Bala had a patched relationship with Atiku during the countdown to the last general election.”
According to investigation, Atiku’s loyalists and pro-Wike/G5 and Damagum members have been at war in the past two weeks at the National Secretariat of the party.
Adorning black and white T-shirts to indicate the distress of the party, a group, National Back Up from Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation, demanded the resignation of Damagum and the National Working Committee (NWC).
The tag on their shirts was: “PDP National Working Committee NWC must resign”.
The leader of the group, Salau Olusola, alleged that the PDP NWC was involved in anti-party activities in the last elections.
He said: “The NWC is to be blamed for the party’s defeat in the 2023 presidential election.”
He faulted the party for not invoking discipline against the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike’s camp.
He added: “Wike and other members of the G-5 camp were involved in anti-party during the 2023 elections, yet Damagum-led NWC refused to discipline them.
“So, they have divided the party into camps. This to us is unacceptable.
“Other reasons include ongoing internal disputes, factionalism, or lack of cohesion within the party can prompt calls for new leadership
“Poor electoral results may lead members to question the effectiveness of the leadership. And allegations of corruption, unethical behavior, or failure to uphold the party’s principles can trigger calls for resignation.”
Asked what they would do if the members of the NWC refused to resign, he said: “We have instituted a legal action and they will be served tomorrow.”
Another member of the group, Ami Gift, said: “The party is divided into factions and the NWC has failed to do anything about it.
“They are irresponsible and we want them out now.”
Another group, which is in support of Damagum, NWC and Wike/G-5 is the Concerned PDP League.
The League, led by Marmmet Dabo-Itibo, said it is in PDP’s interest for Damagum and the NWC to remain in office.
The leader said: “If the PDP is not united, the country will slide into a one-party state.
“Those working for the removal of Damagum and dissolution of the NWC are enemies of democracy who are working to destroy the unity of the party. Damagum-led NWC has worked to stabilise the PDP as a leading opposition party.
“We are working for Damagum and the NWC to remain in office and stabilise the party,” stating how the NWC under the acting national chairman have been able to work towards the reconciliation of “all warring groups within the party.”
The leader of the group asked warring PDP members to withdraw all court cases against the party for reconciliation and unity.
When contacted, the spokesman for Atiku, Mazi Paul Ibe, said: “None of the insinuations above is correct.
“As a party, the position of the PDP is to take a look at its challenges after the Supreme Court’s rulings. Some of the election petitions are still ongoing. That is the official position.”
The G-5, PDP Governors’ Forum and Bala Mohammed factors
At press time, it was gathered that PDP Governors Forum planned to put the main opposition party in proper shape, which will address the crisis in the party.
Investigation revealed that the Chairman of the Forum, Senator Bala Mohammed, recently had a meeting with Wike, who is the arrowhead of the G-5.
Although the meeting was held behind the curtains, speculations on the meeting made Wike to declare that he has no aspiration to be President in 2027.
A source said: “Bala is interested in the Presidency in 2027 and he is already building bridges in PDP and across party lines.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “The PDP Governors Forum is interested in reforming the party but some of its members are being distracted by some crucial election petitions.”
A PDP governor said: “We know where we are going to. I can assure you that the era of old brigade politics will soon end in PDP.
“I won’t deny that there is a lot scheming for the soul of the party. Every notable leader of the party is involved. But some of us want peace in the party which is presently in disarray.”
Why Saraki has not bowed to pressure to lead the party
A reliable source close to Dr. Bukola Saraki confirmed that the Senator has been receiving overtures to become the next national chairman of PDP.
But it was learnt that Saraki has not made any commitment to leaders and stakeholders.
The source said: “So far, Saraki is the only choice acceptable to all groups or caucuses in the party.
“In spite of the pressure, he has not decided on the slot because of his strategic father figure to all. He doesn’t want to offend any group.
“Ayu’s case is another hindrance. What will happen if Saraki is elected and Senator Iyorchia Ayu is reinstated by the Court? So, Saraki is exercising discretion as a statesman.
“There is no sign that Saraki has given up on his presidential ambition. And do you expect Saraki as the National Chairman of PDP to reform and stabilise the party for any member to get the party’s presidential ticket?”

 

By Yusuf Alli

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