98th National Executive Committee Meeting: Wike’s Stronghold On PDP Collapses

OpenLife Nigeria reports that baring any upset between now and April 18 when the 98th National Executive Committee meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is expected to hold, former governor Nyesom Wike’s stronghold on PDP may have started collapsing....READ FULL ARTICLE

Nyesom Wike, an Ikwerre born lawyer and former two- term governor of oil rich Rivers State, to the surprise of many stakeholders, has maintained his controlling influence on PDP despite open romance with the ruling All Progressive Congress as a cabinet minister.

Exuding confidence, Wike has publicly boasted in several fora that despite his obvious anti party activities which manifested in swinging Rivers State votes to APC against his PDP in the last presidential election, nobody can suspend him from the party.

Peeved by this development, OpenLife has reliably gathered that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who suffered defeat in the last presidential election as a result of Wike’s trickeries, has vowed to end the rivalry between him and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory as preparations for the 2027 elections have started in earnest.

The first step in this direction, according to credible sources, is the removal of the party’s acting National Chairman, Umar Damagum, who is believed to be a loyalist to Nyesom Wike. There have been calls to remove Damagum and choose a substantive Chairman.

Damagum, formerly PDP National Deputy Chairman (North), became the party’s acting National Chairman following the suspension of the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, by the court in March last year.

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The court action leading to Ayu’s suspension was filed by a PDP member, Terhide Utaan, who based his request on an earlier vote of no confidence passed in Ayu by the executives of his ward, Igyorov ward, Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State.

Last week, 60 members of the House of Representatives demanded Damagum’s exit, adding that a substantive chairman should be picked from the North Central region.

As a replacement, a former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, and a former Deputy National Secretary of the PDP, Dr. Emmanuel Agbo, are pushing for the position of the PDP National Chairman.

Information has it that while Atiku’s camp is backing Suswam, the Wike’s camp, supported by some PDP governors, is pushing for Damagum to be confirmed as the substantive chairman to complete Ayu’s tenure.

A credible source, who is a member of the PDP North Central Caucus, stated that Wike and his group want Damagum to continue.

According to the source, who craved anonymity because he had no official authority to speak on the matter, the Wike group also wants the North Central to produce the National Deputy Chairman.

On the power play ahead of the Thursday NEC meeting, a party chieftain from the North Central has been quoted to have said, “We are aware that our zone is receiving the necessary support from Atiku.

Many stakeholders from within and outside the zone, including Atiku, are backing Suswam. Consultations are ongoing, and the North Central will ensure that it nominates Ayu’s replacement.

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“Wike and some PDP governors want Damagum to be confirmed as the PDP substantive chairman. They are supporting someone from the North-East to complete the tenure of a position zoned to the North Central for their selfish reasons.

“They want the North Central to nominate a name for National Deputy Chairman (North) to replace Damagum once he is confirmed. They simply want to undermine this party.”

Another source, a highly placed member of the PDP National Working Committee who is not authorised to speak for the party, reiterated that the position of the PDP National Chairman is currently occupied and not vacant.

He said, “Since Ayu is in court, the position is not vacant. The PDP Constitution does not specify the duration or tenure for someone to assume the role of acting party leader. Therefore, Damagum will continue to serve in that capacity.”

On his part, Suswam mentioned that Atiku, having been a presidential candidate, holds a leadership role within the party. Therefore, anyone who has faith in the PDP as a party would naturally regard Atiku as a leader, given his status as a former presidential candidate.

The former Benue State Governor, who insisted that the North Central should produce Ayu’s replacement, declared that the suspended National Chairman is not in court.

Suswam, during a media chat with selected journalists in Abuja over the weekend, explained that he declared his candidacy because he hails from the North Central region.

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He added that the consensus nominee from the North Central will replace Ayu as the substantive National Chairman of the PDP.

He said, “For me, I am not insisting that it must be me, but if it is me, it will be better for the party. But I am not saying that it must be me. However, the North Central should not be shortchanged.

“When Bamanga Tukur was removed, Muazu was brought in from the North-East. After Muazu, Modu Sherif came in. So, there’s a precedent for that.

“I don’t see any reason why this should be an exception. When Solomon Lar’s first tenure expired, it was moved to Gemade to complete the second tenure.

“Of course, when Gemade was removed, Audu Ogbe completed the tenure. So, there is a precedent for this, and there is nothing unusual about what we are demanding from the North Central.

“We believe that with the three meetings convened by the National Working Committee of our party, a decision will be taken, and one of us will emerge as a replacement for Ayu to complete his tenure.”

Speaking to OpenLife on the matter Monday afternoon, a highly placed member of party who requested not to be quoted said:

“It is fight to finish. Atiku has come back to Nigeria. He is determined to untie Nyesom Wike’s stronghold on the party. He has the means and connections to achieve that and it will be achieved on April 18,” he disclosed....READ FULL ARTICLE

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