PDP presidential primary: Atiku’s emergence as party candidate valid, Supreme Court rules

…I’m not bigger than party, Wike admits, insists Ayu must go 

Not long after the Supreme Court Friday validated the emergence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the authentic presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the embattled Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike, in a live television broadcast, acknowledged that he was not “bigger” than the party.

The apex court had thrown out the suit which sought to have the PDP zone its presidential ticket to the Southern part of the country.

Recall that Rt. Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe, a former presidential aspirant and former deputy speaker of the Abia state House of Assembly, had in April approached a Federal High Court in Abuja to stop the PDP presidential primary.

He had previously lost at the Court of Appeal which prompted his decision to proceed to the apex court.

The Supreme Court in a unanimous decision held that it lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter on the ground that it was an internal issue of the party.

The judgement of the Supreme Court, many believe, is expected to lay to rest the legality or otherwise of the action of the party in throwing open its presidential contest following the ratification of the Governor Samuel Ortom Committee by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party.

Wike, as a result of the outcome of the presidential primary that produced Atiku as the candidate of the party and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as the vice-presidential candidate, has been up in arms against the party.

The highpoint of the grievances was Tuesday’s pull out by the Wike camp from the Presidential Campaign Council, but Atiku had reportedly appealed to Wike and members of his aggrieved camp to re-think their withdrawal in the interest of the PDP and Nigerians “who are looking up to the party to rescue it from the current socio-economic and political quagmire the country is facing.”

However, speaking Friday in a lengthy interview on NTA, AIT, Channels and TVC, Wike continued his unabated attacks on the PDP, its presidential standard-bearer, Atiku, as well as the national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.

Appeals to Wike

In a reaction, a source in the PDP Presidential Campaign Council who asked not to be named in print for obvious reasons said: “We are of the strong view that this is an uncharitable comment by a supposedly top member of the party, and obviously an elevated falsehood raised to put the presidential candidate in bad light.

“In all his political life, there is no evidence so far that Atiku Abubakar, a former vice-president, has in his actions or pronouncements, portrayed himself as an unworthy and unreliable political leader. He distances himself from disreputable actions and embraces the noble values that could propel our country to decency and greatness.

“This is what is responsible for his political activities; to be given an opportunity to contribute to the greatness of the nation and help advance the potentials of the country and its teeming youthful population.  The Wazirin Adamawa remains a man of deep conviction, honesty and integrity.”

Continuing, he said, “Governor Wike says he is fighting for fairness, justice and equity, but in the pursuit of all that the governor assumes the state and the entire South of the country. With all sincerity and as a party faithful which he claims to be, he should stop fighting a war that does not exist. It is also important to dispel the impressions that may have been created during the interview that key political positions have been shared. Yes, politics is about negotiations and more negotiations to reach a consensus and, sometimes, even compromise, it is a futile exercise for positions to be shared when an electoral victory has not been secured. We appeal to Governor Wike that Nigeria is in desperate need of visionary leaders to rescue and redeem the nation from this wrecking administration. This is not the time to pull punches and settle scores particularly when they do not exist, but a time to combine strength and efforts to lift our people from nearly eight years of sustained pain and despondency. It is our prayer that God will rescue the country through PDP.”

Wike defiant on Ayu

In his media chat Friday in Port Harcourt, Wike alleged that Atiku had “visited me after his emergence and promised that Ayu would resign, but he failed to actualise it. He also met us in London and promised that Ayu must go, but we were surprised that he went to a gathering and cited constitutional issues.”

When asked what would make his camp support the PDP in the forthcoming elections, Wike insisted that Ayu must give way for a Southerner to become the party’s national chairman.

He described those who advised Ayu not to resign as people who have nothing to offer electorally.

“There is something called expediency, necessity. You can’t eat your cake and have it. Did he not know the provision of the constitution when he promised to quit? For expediency purposes, they should have zoned the chairmanship to the South.

“When they’re meeting for the campaign, the presidential candidate, chairman and DG campaign make decisions and all of them will be northerners. We have not won an election, we are too arrogant; we are saying one thing and doing another.”

On what they would do if Ayu failed to resign, he said “have you not seen where assembly candidates win elections and the governor loses in the same election?”

“There is still room for negotiations. We are not removing Ayu because he won the election. It’s for inclusivity. We are saying give the chairman to the South. You have given the presidency to the North already.”

‘Calls for Ayu’s resignation condemnable’

Meanwhile, South-west Atiku’s associates have condemned agitations for Ayu’s resignation, re-zoning.

The associates of Atiku on the aegis of Atiku People United (APU) rose from a meeting, condemning the way the agitation for resignation of the national chairman and re-zoning was being pursued.

A communiqué signed by the party’s South-west secretary, Rahman Owokoniran, and a founding national vice-chair, Chief Dapo Sarumi, which was sighted by Blueprint Weekend Friday in Abuja, indicated that the movement was disturbed by the “negative signals sent and the perception being created by the actions of Governor Nysom Wike of Rivers state and his group.”

“We have no doubts that this must be why our presidential candidate, a master of the game himself, has chosen the stand he has taken and not because of the lack of respect for Governor Wike and his team. We, therefore, advise that the aggrieved leaders should be willing to make the sacrifice of sheathing their swords until after election when the Party leader must have emerged and the power of persuasion stronger and assuring. Note that Atiku is only a candidate and not yet party leader officially.

“We believe this is the stand and statement of our candidate, Atiku Abubakar. And this is what Nigerians need in any leader that must take the country out of the woods where we have found ourselves. A leader, who listens, negotiates, openly bares his mind and does not just pander to opinions because they are loud, but looks at the long-term implication with deep insights and contribution by experts.

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