Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has said that he lacked the powers to remove National Chairman of the Party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, from office unless the chairman agreed to do so.
Atiku’s comment came in the wake of the withdrawal of some party members, led by Governor Nyesom Wike, from his campaign team.
Those loyal to Governor Wike, including Governor Seyi Makinde, a former deputy national chairman of PDP, Chief Bode George, former governors like Jonah Jang (Plateau) Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo), Donald Duke (Cross Rivers), Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti) and Dankwabo (Gombe) and several other party’s leaders in some states were, on Wednesday morning, arose from a meeting, which started Tuesday evening in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, and announced their withdrawal from the Atiku’s campaign activities until the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, resigns.
In a communique read after the meeting by Mr George, the group reiterated their demand, which according to them would ensure ‘balance’ in the party.
Some members of Wike’s camp were appointed into the PDP presidential campaign council (PCC) last week.
But in a swift reaction to this stand by Wike and his group, Atiku, in a statement signed on Tuesday, expressed his surprise at the action, adding that he cannot force Mr Ayu to resign unless the chairman agreed to do so.
In the words of Atiku, “The people that addressed the press must have their reasons for withdrawing from the Presidential Campaign Council, and I will not speculate as to what those reasons may be.
“Personally, I am quite surprised with this withdrawal because, as I have been informed by officials of our party, apart from the Rivers State chapter of the PDP, all the remaining states of the federation submitted names of people who they wanted included in the Presidential Campaign Council.
“On the calls for the resignation or removal from office of our national chairman, however, I must reiterate what I have said ‘severally’ in public and in private; the decision for Dr. Iyorchia Ayu to resign from office is personal to Dr. Ayu and, neither I nor anyone else can make that decision for him.
“As to the calls for the removal of Dr. Ayu from office, however, I will state that, as a committed democrat and firm believer in the rule of law and democratic tenets, and our party being one set up, organised and regulated by law and our constitution, it is my absolute belief that everything that we do in our party must be done in accordance with, and conformity to the law and our constitution.
“If Dr. Ayu is to be removed from office, it must be done in accordance with the laws that set out the basis for such removal. In any event, you will all recall that the very body that is empowered by law to initiate this removal from office has already passed a vote of confidence in him.”
The unabated crisis in the PDP started a few days after the emergence of Alhaji Atiku as presidential candidate and got worse with the nomination of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as vice presidential candidate of the party.
Many believed that Atiku’s overlooking the Rivers State governor in his choice of running mate angered the latter, who came second in the presidential primary of the party held, in Abuja, on June.