The rift in the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party took a fresh twist on Friday, as Saturday PUNCH reliably learnt that 16 other members who had yet to refund the controversial housing allowance to the party were under intense pressure to do so.
This, according to findings, is to pit the NWC members against the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, whom some party members, led by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, asked to resign in order for peace to reign in the party.
A credible source in the party told one of our correspondents that “there is a tendency for most of them to return the money. Some are waiting for the national chairman to return before making a decision.”
The PUNCH reported on Friday that six NWC members, including the Deputy National Chairman (South), Taofeek Arapaja; National Woman Leader, Prof Stella Effah-Attoe; National Vice Chairman (South-South), Chief Dan Orbih, and three others returned what was termed housing allowance into the party’s coffers.
This came after Ayu was accused by the Rivers State governor of inducing NWC members with huge sums of money in a bid to conceal his alleged financial recklessness.
While Arapaja returned N36m, the five others returned the sum of N28.8m each with letters addressed to Ayu, giving reasons for their decision to reject the allowance.
The 21-member NWC includes the Deputy National Chairman (North), Umar Damagun; National Secretary, Samuel Anyanwu; Deputy National Secretary, Setoji Kosheodo; National Treasurer, Ahmed Mohammed; and the Deputy National Treasurer, Ndubisi David.
Others are the National Organising Secretary, Umar Bature; Deputy National Organising Secretary, Ighoyota Amori; National Financial Secretary, Daniel Woyegikuro; Deputy National Financial Secretary, Adamu Kamale; National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba; and Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Ibrahim Abdullahi.
The list also includes the Deputy National Women’s Leader, Hajara Wanka; National Youth Leader, Muhammed Suleiman; Deputy National Youth Leader, Timothy Osadolor; National Legal Adviser, Kamaldeen Ajibade; Deputy National Legal Adviser, Okechukwu Osuoha; National Auditor, Okechuckwu Daniel; and Deputy National Auditor, Abdulrahman Mohammed.
Meanwhile, Osadolor has taken a swipe at his colleagues, who returned various amounts of money to the party, accusing them of playing politics with the controversial housing allowance.
Meanwhile, a member of the National Executive Committee of the party and ex-minister confided in Saturday PUNCH that Ayu ought to have returned to the country by now, given the worsening crisis engulfing the PDP.
According to him, the decision of Arapaja to lead other NWC members to refund money into the party’s account was an indication that Ayu would return to preside over a divided committee.
He stated, “I hate to say this because Ayu is my friend. It is not looking good for him at the moment. I heard that he was supposed to return from London on Tuesday. I don’t know what he is still doing there even though (the deputy national chairman, North, Iliya) Damagun told us at the Presidential Campaign Council inauguration that he (Ayu) travelled for health reasons.
“Let us not deceive ourselves; Wike and his group have succeeded in splitting the NWC. He did exactly this to a former national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, and before you could say Jack Robinson, the man was gone. The decision to resign is Ayu’s to make, but he can’t afford to be away anymore.”
Payment legal – Ologunagba
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Debo Ologunagba, said the money paid to the members of the NWC was legal, noting that there were records to back up the payment.
“No need to argue over the payment. It is legal. There are records at the party’s secretariat to back up the payment,” he told one of our correspondents on Friday.
In the meantime, investigations by Saturday PUNCH indicated that the leadership of the party was considering releasing the minutes of the NWC meeting where the decision to pay the rent and other allowances was debated and reached.