Major crisis may have hit the group led by Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike and other chieftains of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking the resignation of the national chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, following the withdrawal of Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom from the move.
Ortom made the twist on Monday when he dismissed insinuations that he was in support of the removal of Ayu, saying it is impossible for him to advocate the removal of someone he helped to appoint. Ortom reasserted his confidence in Ayu’s ability to lead the party to victory in next year’s general election, in a surprising contrast to the position of his close ally, Wike.
Ortom and other PDP stakeholders have continued to mount pressure on the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to persuade Ayu to resign in the larger interest. In furtherance to their agitation, Ortom, Wike, their Oyo and Abia counterparts, Seyi Makinde and Okezie Ikpeazu, respectively have held several meetings in and outside the country insisting that Ayu must go.
They are peeved that Wike was bypassed by Atiku in settling for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as his running mate. The group, which Ortom is an active member of, has for months insisted that Ayu must resign for a southerner to occupy the PDP chairmanship post.
But Ortom denied being part of the agenda while reacting to accusations by a group, Jemgbagh Development Association, that he was involved in the ouster moves against the PDP national chairman, a fellow Benue man.
Ortom, in a statement in Abuja by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, said it was an open secret that he worked tirelessly, alongside other prominent Benue citizens, to ensure that Ayu was elected “as the national chairman of our great party even against all odds.”
To this extent, the statement said, “The governor could not, therefore, turn around to work against him to be removed from office.”
It described as mischievous “allegations by an amorphous, little known group parading itself as Jemgbagh Development Association, Abuja chapter, that the Benue governor has a hand in Ayu’s current travails”.
Ortom maintained that with the backing of many leaders of the PDP, who believed his sense of judgment, they worked relentlessly in the run up to the party’s national convention to market Ayu as having the requisite capacity to lead PDP, especially, in the 2023 general election.
The statement said, “Governor Ortom vouched for the integrity and capacity of Dr Iyorchia Ayu to lead and rebuild the PDP to victory and rescue Nigeria from the misrule of the APC maladministration. That is why Ayu was returned unopposed by the northern caucus of the party and got elected as the national chairman of the PDP at the party’s convention.
“Where was Jemgbagh Development Association, when Governor Ortom galvanised support from across the leaders of the party to make Dr. Ayu PDP’s National Chairman? What was their contribution to that project that they now want to use clannish stance to blackmail the governor?”
He further described as laughable how “this amorphous and emergency Jemgbagh Development Association, Abuja, which has never been heard of before, is now masquerading as the voice of Jemgbagh to embark on campaign of calumny against Governor Ortom, who has worked selflessly for the people of Benue State.
“Governor Ortom is more Jemgbagh than most of the people claiming it now. This is fact, because he has done more for Jemgbagh, both in terms of appointments and projects executed as well as patronage in the area, than even one of the Jemgbagh sons, who was governor. Besides, Gov Ortom has consistently worked for the unity of Benue State and will never stand in the way of any of her citizens, either here in the state or in the diaspora
“For those, who claimed to be leaders of this Jemgbagh Development Association, Abuja, we urge them to be truly developmental in their drive to build cohesion among the people and attract real development to their area rather than engaging in mischief or blackmail.”