New Telegraph

Post-election crisis: PDP may move for Ayu’s removal before May 29

The post-election crisis in the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may claim the National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, before the May 29 handover date to new government. This is just as the party has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to review the March 18 governorship election in Ogun State because it was at variance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and guidelines issued by the commission for the conduct of the election.

The PDP was enmeshed in crisis shortly after last year’s presidential primary election, leading to five of its governors supporting other presidential candidates other than the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, who was one the aggrieved PDP governors, openly declared and worked for the candidate of Labour Party (LP) Mr. Peter Obi. The PDP candidate lost in all the five states controlled by the aggrieved governors, and came second in the overall presidential election. On the other hand, the five governors worked for the candidates of the party during the governorship election, although the party lost two of the states to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Labour Party.

Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, though not a member of the aggrieved governors, openly worked for the APC candidate in his home state, Ebonyi. PDP also lost the governorship to the APC. The PDP National Working Committee (NWC), last week, suspended the former SGF, former Ekiti and Katisna State governors, Ayodele Fayose and Ibrahim Shehu Shema, as well as well two other members of the party, while Ortom was referred to the party’s national disciplinary committee, for what it described as anti-party activities. Since the suspension was announced, there have been rash of reactions by some party leaders, who believed the National Chairman took the action as face saving measure. “Ayu want to be on the offensive because everybody knows that very soon, the heat will be on him.

We failed the election because he insisted on remaining in office against the rule of the PDP,” a party source stated. The G-5 governors led by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, had insisted that Ayu must step aside as condition for them to work the PDP at the presidential election, because he comes from the same region with the candidate. Also, his style of leadership is believed to have made Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), to leave the PDP. According to the source: “If Obi and Kwankwaso had remained in PDP, there is no way Atiku would not beat (Bola) Tinubu with very wide margin. “We all know why Obi left the PDP. It was because Ayu removed the party structure in Anambra State from him. And as for Kwankwaso, it was the struggle for the North West between him and Tambuwal. “All this was because the National Chairman failed to provide leadership.” Sunday Telegraph gathered that the move to remove Ayu as National Chairman will begin before the swearing of the new governors. The source stated that most of those pushing for his removal are second term governors, who may not muster much muscle after handing over to their successors on May 29.

“We expect that there will be call for NEC (National Executive Committee) meeting any moment from now. It may not be in the interest of the National Chairman to call for NEC, but he will be under pressure to do so. “If you could recall, Adamu Mu’Azu was forced to resign after the PDP lost the 2015 presidential election. What is the difference now? “Ayu made us to lose the presidential election, and even some states controlled by the PDP. “Before, South East was under the control of PDP, but now, we managed to win only one state, Enugu. We also lost most of the senatorial seats from the zone.

“Apart from South-South, tell me any zone we can lay claim. None! “We won one state in the North Central and one state in North West. “Our hope is in the North East. If not because INEC refused to announce Adamawa, we will be talking of three states from the region. “Ayu even lost his state, Benue, to APC. If there is anybody to be accused of anti-party activity, it is the National Chairman. He held unto office knowing that it is wrong for both the National Chairman and presidential candidate to come from the same geopolitical zone,” Sunday Telegraph was told. PDP said its candidate was leading in Ogun State governorship election before INEC cancelled his votes and declared the APC candidate winner of the election. The National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, at a press conference yesterday, stated that the candidate of the APC, Dapo Abiodun was declarer winner, in violation of the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022. Ologunagba noted that the cancelled votes in the election, was in excess with the margin of lead between Adedapo Abiodun and the PDP governorship candidate, Oladipupo Adebutu.

“Whereas the number of permanent voters cards (PVCs) collected in places where elections were not held or cancelled is 33,750, the margin of lead between the two candidates as announced by INEC returning officer is 13,915 thereby invalidating the declaration and return made by INEC. “In such circumstance, Section 24 (3) (4) of the Electoral Act, 2022 expressly mandated INEC to appoint a new date for the conduct of the polls in the polling units where election did not hold or cancelled before any return can be made,” he added.

The PDP spokesperson argued that “the hurried declaration of the APC candidate by the INEC returning officer as winner was therefore a declaration made contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, regulations and guidelines stipulated by INEC for the election.”

He stated that the only option available to INEC is “to exercise its powers under Section 65 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 to review the wrongful declaration and return made within seven days. “It is therefore reckless and highly condemnable that INEC would cancel PDP’s winning votes and hurriedly declare and return the defeated candidate of the APC as winner, in gross violation of the law and total disregard for the will of the people as expressed at the election.”

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