•Fresh Facts Emerge
•Why AYU Was The Main Target
These are not the best of times for Iyorchia Ayu, the embattled National Chairman of the PDP. For a few months now, he has been in the eye of a big storm rocking the PDP. He has been called all sorts of names. He has also been attacked. And key members of his party, led by Gov. Wike have been calling for his resignation. But will he resign and bow out?
As you read this, the embattled national chairman has been meeting with the various factions in his party to douse the tension currently rocking the PDP across the country, which if care is not taken may consume him and scuttle the chances of his presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
If recent developments are anything to go by, the lingering battle between Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and the duo of PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the party’s national Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, is far from being over. Despite repeated assurances from the party’s spokespersons and Atiku’s as well, that the crisis would be resolved soon, and that it is a family matter, there appears to be no hope of reconciliation on the cards.
The crisis has not only grown worse, it has further thrown the party into a complete state of chaos. The battle is basically between the Wike and Atiku camps. And from the look of things, the Wike camp appears to be holding all the aces at this time. With Wike leading the assault , the Atiku and Ayu camps have been dealt blow after blow following the relentless attacks from Wike, the last being the media parley he granted a select group of journalists two weeks ago.
Now, the Wike camp has struck again. And this time, the party’s presidential flag bearer, former vice president Atiku Abubakar, was not their target. The target was the party’s National hairman, Iyorchia Ayu. It first started with allegations of financial misappropriation against the Ayu-led NWC of the party, with claims that funds from sale of nomination forms have not been properly accounted for.
It was reported that some members of the PDP NWC are pushing for a probe of the party’s finances under Ayu’s watch. This came shortly after Wike’s media parley in which he alleged that an unnamed presidential candidate gave Ayu the sum of N1b naira which was not accounted for.
According to City People investigation, some of the NWC members also want an audit of about N1 billion that the party got from friends of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the party.
Meanwhile, in separate letters sent to various media houses, some members of the Ayu-led NWC said they have returned money received from the party’s bank accounts.
Hon. Olasoji Adagunodo, National Vice Chairman Southwest, Stella Effah-Attoe, national women leader; Dan Orbih, national vice-chairman (south-south); and Taofeek Arapaja, deputy national chairman (south), are among the NWC members who said they have returned money to the party’s account.
The duo of Effah-Attoe and Orbih said they returned the sum of N28.8 million each, while Arapaja said he returned N36 million to the party’s account. In the letters addressed to the party, Effah-Attoe and Arapaja said the money was allegedly credited to their accounts by the party leadership for “housing allowance”.
In his letter addressed to Ayu, Arapaja cited a report which alleged that members of the PDP NWC were offered “humongous” amount of money to “silence” financial misappropriation in the party.
“This led me to browse through my various alerts, and I discovered a transfer of thirty-six million naira (N36,000,000.00) from the party. I have my reservation about this money transferred into my account and for personal reasons wish to return it accordingly,” Arapaja’s letter reads.
On her part, Effah-Attoe said she didn’t feel comfortable being in possession of the N28.8 million. “Since after the lodgment of the money into my Bank Account, I have been inundated with many phone calls from party members, friends, family members and the general public, insinuating that the said money has been given as a bribe to bring me and other NWC members on the side of the National Chairman, following the crisis between him on one side and the Governor of Rivers State, H.E. Governor Nyesom Wike/Wike’s Group, on the other side,” her letter reads.
“In addition, some national newspapers/social media platforms have also carried stories accusing the NWC members of being placated with bribe of N28,800,000,00.
“This development has made me very uncomfortable, having found myself in such an embarrassing situation, I am hereby refunding to the Bank Account of our Great Party at the PDP National Secretariat.” But, according to credible City People sources close to the party, there is a lot more to the story than they are letting the public know. “It is not about rejecting a housing loan, it is much deeper than that,” said our source. “The members of the party’s National Working Committee that refunded the monetary gifts sent to their accounts are members of the NWC loyal to governor Wike. At the time the party’s NWC was being constituted, governors Wike, Seyi Makinde, Samuel Ortom, all had their influences on the committee. They positioned in the NWC members who are loyal to them. The Atiku/ Ayu camps soon realized they needed to have some of these members of the NWC on their team, hence the monetary gifts sent to them. There was no request or application for housing allowance from any member of the NWC, these are politicians with massive properties scattered all over Abuja, but there just has to be a purpose for which the money was paid into their account, so it was called Housing allowance.”
But, from what we gathered, the money wasn’t sent to them this week or days ago, why are they just realizing now that that they needed to refund the money, we asked our source? “That really is where the whole drama erupted from,” he responded. “It was one of the members who got the ‘gift’ supposedly from Ayu that squealed and then it got to Wike’s hearing. And of course, he, Wike, saw another opportunity to embarrass both Ayu and Atiku and inflict more damages to the already weakened Atiku base. By trying to bribe members of the NWC loyal to him, they played right into his hands. He made them an offer. He told them to return the monies given to them with an agreement that he will give them double what they were offered. But they would have to letters stating clearly that unexplained large sums of money were paid into their accounts and they were returning it to wash their hands off any financial misappropriation the Iyorchia Ayu led leadership may have gotten itself enmeshed in. The truth is, they collected the money, they were comfortable with it and were prepared to carry on as though nothing happened until somebody squealed and they had to come clean to Governor Wike. Then he made them an offer they couldn’t refuse and the result has been fantastic. Now, there is a renewed call for Ayu’s resignation, which is exactly what Wike wants. Now, many are wondering, if the house of those who claim they will rid Nigeria of corruption and turn the fortunes of the country around is stinking to high heavens with rot and decay of alarming proportion, how can they possibly save the nation?”
When asked how much this whole bribery scandal worries Atiku, his response: “Of course, it bothers him. It has to. Remember, this particular blow was directed at Ayu, not Atiku. Ayu is the target. The whole idea is to expose Ayu as the terribly corrupt personality that Wike clams he is and pressure him to resign. Or at least trigger a renewed call for his resignation. And it’s working. More and more people in the party are now calling for Ayu’s resignation. But it also affects Atiku because Ayu is possibly his most trusted ally in that party. He needs Ayu. They have both come a long way. He trusts him. He cannot afford to lose Ayu as the party’s national chairman right now, but having him continue to occupy that office, with Wike relentlessly firing at them, is also doing his presidential aspirations more harm than good. As it is now, Atiku’s chances of winning next year’s presidential election is getting thinner by the day. If truth be told, it will take more than a miracle for him to emerge president,” he concluded.