Loyalists of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State have proposed the appointment of Taofeek Arapaja as acting national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Naija News reports that Atiku and Wike, alongside some governors, had been at loggerheads since May 2022, when Atiku emerged as the presidential candidate of the PDP. The crisis escalated after Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, was unveiled as Atiku’s running mate on June 16. Moves to reconcile all parties have failed.
Atiku had on Thursday met with Wike in London alongside governors of Abia, Benue, Adamawa, and Oyo States. There were other PDP stakeholders like Donald Duke who were in attendance.
According to Premium Times, Wike’s group, at the meeting, demanded the resignation of the national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, as its condition for sitting down to negotiate with Atiku for the support of the group in the coming presidential election.
Giving reasons for insisting on Ayu’s resignation, Wike’s group stated that his removal would balance the leadership of the party in which all the top national positions in the PDP are being held by members from the northern zones of the country.
According to them, the PDP chairman had pledged to step down should the party nominate a northerner as a presidential candidate.
The second reason, according to Wike’s camp, was the alleged divisiveness of Senator Ayu, saying his leadership style has worsened crises in the party.
They called on Atiku to pressure Iyorchia Ayu to step down because they are allies, and the national chairman had clandestinely supported Atiku in the party primaries.
However, the PDP Presidential candidate pointed out to the group that Ayu’s resignation would not balance the party’s leadership, as the Deputy National Chairman (North), Umar Damagum, would be required to fill the vacancy such a step would create.
Naija News reports that the PDP constitution prescribes that the deputy national chairman from the home region of the national chairman would act in the absence of the national chairman or take office if it becomes vacant before the end of their tenure.
But the Wike group said this could be circumvented by Ayu and Damagum resigning to give Arapaja, the Deputy National Chairman (South) of the PDP, a clear path to the seat.
Arapaja, a former deputy governor of Oyo State, is an ally of Governor Makinde, one of the governors in the Wike camp.
Wike and his allies proposed that Arapaja take office on an interim until after the general elections when the party could elect a substantive national chairman.
This article was originally published on Naija News