The crises in the main opposition party, PDP, took a different twist Sunday as a ward chapter of the party in Benue State announced the suspension of the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu.
Mr Ayu’s ‘suspension’ was announced on Sunday by the local chapter of the PDP at his Igyorov Ward of Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State.
Vangeryina Dooyum, the Igyorov Ward Secretary who represented its chairman, Kashi Philip, said Mr Ayu was suspended from the party owing to his anti-party activities during the recently held general elections across Nigeria.
“We observed with utmost dismay that Dr Iyorchia Ayu who is the national chairman of the PDP worked against the success of the party in Igyorov Council Ward,” Mr Dooyum said in a statement on Sunday.
The local chapter of the PDP blamed Mr Ayu, a former senate president, for the party’s abysmal outing at the 2023 governorship and state parliamentary elections.
“Further investigation also revealed that he did not vote during the Governorship and State Assembly Elections held on March 18, 2023,” the ward secretary said.
The PDP lost the presidential election in Benue to the APC whose candidate, Bola Tinubu, also emerged as president-elect. The opposition party, which currently governs Benue, also lost two of the three senatorial seats in the state to the APC. It also lost 11 of the 12 House of Representatives seats to the APC.
Mr Dooyum said the party found out that “most of” Mr Ayu’s “closest allies worked for the opposition party, the All Progressive Congress, APC, and hence, the abysmal performance of the PDP in Igyorov Ward.”
“In view of the foregoing, we hereby pass a Vote of No Confidence on Dr Iyorchia Ayu and suspend him as a member of our party with immediate effect. The suspension takes effect from March 24, 2023,” the PDP scribe at Mr Ayu’s ward said.
Benue PDP chapter reacts
In a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday, PDP’s State publicity secretary in Benue, Bemgba Iortyom, said it was just learning of Mr Ayu’s suspension from the party.
When asked about the procedure for suspending a member of the PDP, Mr Iortyom explained that the party’s constitution provides that disciplinary action can only be taken against any member from the ward level.
“The suspension or disciplinary action against any member of the party can only be commenced at the ward level of the party,” Mr Iortyom said.
He said the state level of the party in Benue was yet to take a position on Mr Ayu’s suspension, as it only learnt of the development on Sunday.
Governor Ortom-Ayu war
Mr Ayu has been at loggerheads with a dissident group of five PDP governors who have been clamouring for his resignation.
The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, is a member of the five PDP governors popularly known as G5. The other members include Governor Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Okezie Ikpaeazu (Abia) and Seyi Makinde (Oyo).
Due to the conflict with the national chairman of the PDP, the five governors, withdrew their support for the presidential bid of PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar.
Mr Ortom openly declared his support for Labour Party’s presidential candidate Peter Obi in Makurdi, the Benue state capital.
Mr Ortom was also a casualty of the schism in the PDP as he lost his senatorial bid to the APC. His governorship candidate, Titus Uba, also lost to APC’s Hyacinth Alia in the 18 March governorship election in Benue.
Last Thursday, the PDP National Working Committee referred Mr Ortom to its disciplinary committee over alleged anti-party activities.
Mr Ortom’s immediate past education commissioner, Dennis Ityavyar; a former Nigerian Senate President, Pius Anyim, and a former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, were suspended from the party over allegations of anti-party activities.
Reacting to the development, Mr Ortom said if any member of the PDP was to be disciplined, it should be Mr Ayu.
Mr Ortom’s chief press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, in a statement said “the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is acting in contempt of a subsisting Court Order by referring him (Mr Ortom) to the disciplinary committee of the party for alleged anti-party activities.”
Mr Ikyur noted that there is a subsisting restraining order against the PDP “from carrying out disciplinary actions against the governor.
“This case is adjourned to 18th April 2023 and so it is baffling to see such a statement coming from the national leadership of the party,” Mr Ikyur said in a statement he issued Thursday night.
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