The post-presidential primary crisis that has engulfed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) escalated Wednessday.
Former Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose re-echoed the regional position on zoning, insisting that power should shift to the South.
He spoke a month after the party concluded its presidential primary in which Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was elected the flag bearer.
Also, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom decried what he described as Atiku’s ‘insult’ to Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike.
He said Atiku should explain why he did not pick the former presidential aspirant as his running mate.
The PDP candidate is from Adamawa State in the Northeast zone.
Also yesterday, the Osun State Governorship Election Campaign Council was inaugurated in Abuja with only two of 13 PDP governors present.
Many leading lights of the 128-member council did not show up.
The poll holds on July 16 across 30 local governments in the Southwest state.
There were rumours on social media that PDP National Chairman Dr. Iyorchia Ayu had been suspended.
But, his Media and Communication Adviser, Simon Imobo-Tswam, urged the public to ignore the misinformation.
He attributed the report to the antics of mischief makers and idle minds.
Ortom and Fayose had teamed up with Wike during the presidential primary.
Although Wike was recommended by 14 of the 17-man committee set up by the party as running mate, Atiku later picked Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
Ortom’s interview with Arise Television gave a hint of a smouldering crisis.
He alleged that Atiku ignored the recommendation of the committee he set up to consider a suitable running mate for him.
According to Ortom, 14 of 17 members, including himself, had recommended Wike.
Ortom said: “I was among the 17-member committee set up by Atiku and 14 of us in the committee said the person should be Wike. Unfortunately, Atiku picked Okowa. That is his wisdom.
“You cannot ignore the decision of a committee you set up yourself and expect people to be happy. For now, I have gone into hibernation.”
When he was asked if he would support the Atiku/Okowa ticket, Ortom was non-committal.
He said: “I am in hibernation. I am praying. When I finish the prayers and whatever God directs me, I will do. We expect Atiku to do more, but we are not seeing that.”
When it was pointed out to Ortom that Atiku has been making efforts to reach out to Wike, who has been avoiding the emissaries’ calls, Ortom justified Wike’s action.
Ortom said: “They should stop that. Atiku should go to him. Why won’t he ignore their calls? Is that not an insult?
“Wike is a pillar in the party. Currently, nobody in the party has contributed more to the party to move forward than Wike.
“If Atiku was not going to honour the decision of the committee, he should have called Wike earlier and informed him. He didn’t do that. You can’t do things anyhow and expect us to be happy.”
Ortom added: “My friend Wike deserves the vacation after what he has gone through.
“Some of us believe he (Wike) has the capacity and charisma to lift this country from bottom to top compared to what has been happening.
“We have been taken from the top in 2015 to the bottom since this present administration came into power.
“Some of us believe that Wike has the capacity but Nigerians or let me say the PDP people did not give him the opportunity. Some of us rooted for him.
“I was amongst the 17-member committee that was set up by the candidate himself and the party and some of us said that for the vice presidency of the party, we needed Wike to be the vice president so that he can bridge the gap.
“We (the committee) said it does not matter whether he supported the presidential candidate or not, all we are looking for is unity and how we can make things work.”
He believes it is in the spirit of equity, fairness and justice.
The former governor disclosed this in a statement via his verified Twitter handle (@GovAyoFayose).
He argued that Section 3(c) of the PDP Constitution provides for a rotational presidency.
Fayose, who did not mention the party and candidate he would be supporting in next year’s election, urged Nigerians to await further details. He tweeted: “The PDP Constitution provides for a rotational Presidency. Section 3(c) provides that the Party shall pursue its aims & objectives by ‘adhering to the policy of the rotation & zoning of Party & Public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness’.”
Poor attendance at Campaign Council inauguration
The chairman of the Osun Campaign Council, Governor Douye Diri, did not attend the ceremony.
Okowa and his Taraba State counterpart, Darius Ishaku, were the only two governors that attended the inauguration.
Almost three weeks ago, PDP had failed to set up a similar campaign structure for Ekiti State ahead of the governorship election.
Also, PDP governors and national leaders refused to campaign for the candidate, Bisi Kolawole, who lost to the All Progressives Congress (APC) flag bearer, Governor-elect Biodun Oyebanji.
While Okowa, who represented Atiku yesterday, explained that the presidential candidate was out of the country, Ishaku said he was representing Diri as deputy chairman of the Campaign Council.
Ishaku did not offer any explanations for Diri’s absence.
Ayu did not attend the ceremony.
The Deputy National Chairman (North), Umar Damagum, stood in for Ayu, who was said to be on a two-week vacation and will be resuming on July 6.
Members of the National Working Committee (NWC) attended the ceremony.
Besides the governors, most of the 128 members of the campaign council also did show up for the ceremony, which kicked off well over an hour behind schedule.
Decrying the report on Ayu’s suspension, PDP Spokesman Debo Ologunagba said: “Such report is completely false and a product of the imagination of mischief makers with the intent to destabilise our party, create an impression of crisis within our ranks and mislead the unsuspecting members of the public.
“It is clear that the false report is the handiwork of vicious anti-people forces who are agitated by the stability, unity and soaring popularity of our party under the cohesive Sen. Dr. Ayu-led National Working Committee as well as the intimidating statures of our presidential and vice presidential candidates, His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar and His Excellency, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa respectively.”
Ologunagba said the party chairman has been on a short vacation outside the country and that he officially transmitted power to the Deputy National Chairman (North), Umar Damagum to perform his duties in an acting capacity.
He added: “It is instructive to state that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was duly informed of the absence of our National Chairman and that Amb. Damagun will be performing the duties of the National Chairman in Acting Capacity pending Senator Dr. Ayu’s return.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP and the NWC are united and Senator Dr. Iyorchia Ayu remains the National Chairman.
“The NWC, therefore, urges all members of our great party, our teeming supporters, the media and the general public to disregard the said report as fake news,” Ologunagba added.