PDP crisis: BoT acted late, says former National Chairman, Haliru Mohammed

says Atiku has right to choose running mate, Wike has right to feel slighted

Ayu’s resignation call justifiable but ill-timed
Assures party ability to resolve crisis 

By Tunde Joshua,

A formal national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Bello Haliru Mohammed has blamed the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) for allowing the current crisis in the party to linger before initiating resolution mechanism.

Mohammed this week spoke on Channels Television about the crisis rocking the party.

The party chieftain viewed the crisis as a manageable one because it is normal in nomination process but said it should have been resolved earlier.

Stressing the fact that nomination problems are always significant in any election period, the former chairman said the current crisis is peculiar because of the importance of Governor Wike in the party.

“Remember he stood with the party when we were in deep crisis over the Ali Modu Sheriff problem; and he has also been our pillar, supporting the party since that time. In fact, the rebuilding of the party happened, thanks to him and some other governors, since we lost the 2015 election,” he said

Speaking further, he said “but if we were to solve the problem, I think it would not even have reached this stage. I think there have been, I wouldn’t say failures of

leadership, but some mistakes on the side of the Board of Trustees (BoT).

“You know, the BoT has the responsibility of moving in to resolve issues between party members, between party and legislators or between legislators and presidency when we are in government. But this time, because we don’t have a president, the BoT did not act as fast

as it should; if it had stepped in and called the party to order, this problem would not have reached the stage it has reached.

“It must be said that the right to nominate a running mate belongs to the candidate. And he has exercised it judiciously and the majority of the party is happy with the choice. So, there is no mistake in that.

“As I said, the mistake was on the part of the BoT, because when the announcement was made and Wike was not properly consulted and assuaged on why he was not picked as against Governor Okowa; the BoT was the one that was supposed to have reached out to him and assuage him and bring him on the same wavelength with the nominee of the party.

“But that was not done immediately; and Wike felt he was slighted, neglected and unappreciated. That is what caused the whole problem.”

Delving into the genesis of the crisis, which he said is not a malignant disease, Mohammed said ” I don’t agree with you that we have a malignant disease in the PDP. We have what I consider a slight problem; a member of our party and a number of supporters felt slighted in the course of nominating our vice presidential candidate.

“The issue of nomination, and especially nomination of running mate, this time, became problematic, not because Atiku Abubakar set up the committee; that was correct, because, last time, in 2019, when the vice president was nominated without consultation, there was a lot of complaints and brouhaha.

“This time around, the Waziri of Adamawa corrected that mistake and consulted widely among party members before nominating his running mate. But the problem is, as always, for any appointment or nomination, there are several contenders. I believe the way it was handled before the announcement was the cause of the problem and people have the right to feel slighted because of the problem.

“Wike has the right to feel slighted because he was expecting to be nominated and when the decision was made, he was not privy to it before the announcement. I think that was the mistake that was made.

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“But that is a minor issue. Wike is a loyal party man. As I said earlier, he has been supporting the party and he will like the PDP to win the presidential election. And after he is consulted and he is assuaged, I think he will support the candidature of Atiku Abubakar and work hard to make sure the PDP wins the presidential election.”

Expressing hope that the crisis will be resolved, he said the very fact of the agreement by both Atiku and Wike to meet is an indication that there is ongoing reconciliation; and as soon as that has been achieved, he will join the campaign and play a prominent role in the campaign and the party will be victorious.

On the strength of the latest meeting between Atiku and Wike in London, he said he never had any doubt that the party will be able to resolve this crisis happening in-house because this is not the first time PDP will be having a major crisis.

“We have gone through several since 1999 and PDP has the expertise and people with experience to come in and solve such crisis; we have done it before” adding that the party will come out with a solution that will satisfy all concerned in this crisis and go into the coming elections as a strong, united party and win the election.

“Wike will come back to his brothers and sisters in the leadership of the party and we will move ahead to win the election in 2023.”

On the agitation for the removal of Dr Iyorchia Ayu as PDP national chairman, Dr Mohammed said both the constitution of the PDP and the constitution of Nigeria reserve reflection of the diversity of the country in the composition of positions.

He said Ayu should constitutionally relinquish his position because if there is a presidential candidate from the North, it is right that the party chairman should come from the South.

However, concerned about the timing for such a call, he said “but we have also to look at the problem of sending away the chairman at this stage of a few months to the election. The aim of the party is to win election. So, if we find out that sending out the chairman will upset the apple cart and weaken our preparation for 2023, I can see the position of those saying the chairman should not be changed now.

“On the other hand, I have a personal experience that when Chief (Okwesilieze) Nwodo who was our chairman then had a problem and had to step down as the chairman during our convention of 2011, I stepped in as chairman and I was not removed for a substantive chairman until after the election, because the party felt it would be distractive for a chairman to be dropped just a few months to the election.

“So, you can see that it has happened before. But now, we have a peculiar situation where we have to assess how the removal of the chairman will affect our preparation for the 2023 election. And I believe the relevant organs of the party are looking at it and giving it consideration. But Ayu himself has agreed that if there is a presidential candidate from the North, the chairman should come from the South; the issue now is the timing.

So, it is for the party organs to meet and decide what will be the best option. We are only a few months from the presidential election.”

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