By Hundu Bunde
The last elective National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP which held in October, last year was heralded by a lot of horse-trading, intrigues, drama, tension and a plethora of controversies.
The fact that the convention was coming on the heels of the unceremonious dissolution of then National Working Committee, NWC led by Uche Secondus further heightened the fever that engulfed the party ahead of the convention.
Two key actors that were highly visible in the processes that led to the convention were the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom and his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike. The two men practically dug deep, dragged current Chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu out of political oblivion and almost singlehandedly made him the Chairman of the party.
Governors Ortom and Wike did not achieve that on a platter of gold and they did not cajole or armtwist members of the party to ensure that Iyorchia Ayu became the head of the NWC of the PDP. They invested time, resources and energy and spent nights negotiating and renegotiating with relevant stakeholders to have Ayu in the position he now occupies.
It is common knowledge that such arrangements do not come with some form of concessions, promises and agreements which in our parlance, are simply described as give-and-take. Some watchers and inner sources in the party say the position was given to Dr. Ayu on certain conditions.
Fast forward to post-presidential convention of the PDP where former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar emerged as the party’s standard bearer, narrowly beating Wike to the ticket thereby having the presidential candidate and national chairman in the north which is against the spirit and letters of the party’s constitution. The emergence of Alhaji Atiku on that fateful day was surely going to throw up some controversies and that did not take long to materialise.
Reports have it that Dr. Ayu had made an undertaken that he would resign from his position as the National Chairman of the party if the presidential candidate of the party came from the northern part of the country as the party’s constitution provides that the President and the Chairman of the party should not come from the same region.
Now, Governor Wike who was instrumental to the removal of his kinsman, which further paved the way for Dr. Ayu to take the position at the convention wants the national chairman to make good the promise he made if the presidential ticket of the party goes to the north.
But what has been at the front burner of the debate now is the war of attrition between what has become the Wike camp and the Ayu camp on one side and the Atiku camp and Wike camp on the other. Most prominent however, is the rising tension between Ayu and Wike.
Just this week, there was what one could describe as name-calling and some weighty allegations between the two gladiators, a situation which has clearly unsettled the party and is still sending shivers down the spine of their members.
One unfortunate dimension is the desperation of some failed politicians to drag Governor Ortom of Benue state into the cross-fire and portray the Tiv race in bad light out of mischief. Yes, Governor Ortom was with Wike all the way when they were in the trenches to install Dr. Ayu as the National Chairman.
Interestingly, when Wike practically dethroned his kinsman with the help of Ortom and created space for Dr. Ayu, those political desperados who are now running from pillar to post to portray Governor Ortom as being anti-Ayu were nowhere around the battle field. Also, where were they when Ortom, with the support of Wike deployed resources, time, energy in convincing other aspirants and other stakeholders to either step down for or support the bid to elevate Dr. Ayu?
Is it not curious that those who are out to crucify Governor Ortom are feigning ignorance of the efforts he made to bring Dr. Ayu out of political wilderness and project him to the top of the National Working Committee of the PDP? Also worrisome is the fact that these same people want Governor Ortom to fight Governor Wike for calling on Dr. Dr. Ayu to respect the pact he had with them.
That some political desperados prefer to select what to pay attention to in the internal wrangling in PDP and resort to name-calling smacks of hypocrisy and witch-hunting against Governor Ortom and by extension, Governor Wike.
Those who are claiming to be concerned should first worry over Dr. Ayu’s infamous outing in which he made derogatory remarks against those who brought him out of political dungeon, calling them “children”, forgetting that they revived his political career that was in a coma. That they have refused to advised Dr. Ayu to obey the agreement he reached with his benefactors is a clandestine way of saying the Tivs are ungrateful people which is not true.
The Tiv people have a history of appreciating those who help them and/or stand by them in times of need. Dr. Ayu should not change the narrative and shut the door for the coming generations. The attitude of arrogantly refusing to honour agreements reached and making careless comments as well as calling those who took bullets and broke sweat to bring him to limelight once again amounts to betrayal of confidence and breach of trust in addition to destroying bridges.
The indiscretion of Dr. Ayu and his sheer lack of diplomacy in the face of the crisis in the party is largely responsible for the loopholes that enemies of Tivs and members of the opposition APC in Benue state are now cashing on to diminish the gains that the PDP has made in the state.
The dirty war in the PDP especially the aspect involving the Wike camp and Dr. Ayu camp may look beyond handling now; but there is always a way out and Dr. Ayu has to be aware that he has a major role in ensuring that the party regains its lost glory as unguarded or unruly display of pride and arrogance could further hurt the party and narrow the doors to reconciliation.
Also, the smear campaign against Governor Ortom by some Tiv people, understandable as it could be for political reasons, should be seen as misplaced as it would be foolhardy for the governor to make a 360 degree turn and encourage Dr. Ayu to go ahead by breaching the terms that cleared the way for him to attain his current position.
For the young men and women hired by politicians to launch attack on Governor Ortom for not going to war against Governor Wike for responding to Dr. Ayu’s diatribe, let them not forget that they are likely bear the consequences of agreeing to tell the world that the Tiv people are amenable to being traitors and ingrates.
But for Governor Ortom, posterity would vindicate him for always fighting the course of the Benue people ranging from his desire to ensure the security of the people to the protection of their political interests nationwide.
Bunde, a Public Affairs Analyst writes from Makurdi