The rift in the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party took a fresh twist on Friday, as it was 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 said 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.”
It was earlier 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.
In an interview , Osadolor, who is the party’s deputy National Youth Leader, said it was unfortunate that those who pressured Ayu to approve the allowance were the same people feigning morality.
He said, “It was a housing allowance for the NWC members and it is unfortunate that those who are now playing politics of malice with their housing allowance were even those who pressured Ayu into signing and approving such an allowance for them.
“They have been on the man for the past three months to approve the housing allowance for them – that it is their entitlement. The man has been stalling and saying, ‘We have major work at hand’.
“They had been on him saying they all came from different parts of the country and that they had yet to get a befitting accommodation matching their national status and all of that.”
He said part of their argument was that since it was part of the establishment code and manual of the party, they were entitled to housing allowance because they were working for the party.
“The chairman succumbed and followed due process. They all sat down on the NWC table, took minutes of it, voted and signed. Coming to the public now to play to the gallery for what they partook in is nothing but a wicked act and an act of mischief,” Osadolor added.
The youth leader said he would not allow himself to be used by forces bent on destroying the party and its chances of winning the 2023 elections.
He added, “I will never be under any form of pressure to be used by evil spirits, because whatever is pushing these people now is not pushing them in the right direction.
“It is not a good spirit that is pushing them and wherever it is pushing them, I can only wish and pray to God Almighty that they find their way back to redemption, because what they have just done is to mark themselves out as not only saboteurs, but as people who are not credible and lack integrity.
“If they had integrity, they wouldn’t be doing this, because this is something that they requested, demanded over three months, pressurised the man (Ayu) and made him look like a bad person and eventually got approval. They are now using it to play politics because one man is pressing their remote button from Port Harcourt. It is laughable, painful and unfortunate.”
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 said on Friday.