Crises rocking main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 2023 General Election, deepened, Sunday, as warring interests led by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike formally unveiled the Integrity Group to drive their objective of forcing the removal of the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, from office.
The new group, said to be a faction of the party was unveiled as the aggrieved members intensified their calls for leadership changes within the opposition party, a move which had rocked it since the conduct of the Presidential primary poll in May, this year, that produced Atiku Abubakar as candidate in the 2023 General Election.
The newly-formed Integrity Group is composed of aggrieved party chieftains including five state governors (G-5) of the party who have refused to back down on the choice of Ayu as National Chairman following the emergence of Atiku as party Presidential candidate, on the grounds that both politicians are from the North.
Other governors in the group include; Samuel Ortom of Benue, Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia.
The Integrity Group was unveiled on the sidelines of a strategic meeting convened by the aggrieved members in Lagos, said to be connected with fine-tuning plans for the removal of Ayu from office.
Addressing reporters before going into a closed-door meeting, Mr Makinde said the Integrity Group remained the face behind the struggle within the PDP.
“We are here this morning to hold a meeting of the Integrity Group within our party, the PDP. We have been of the G5- that is, the five PDP governors. The G5 is all about the Integrity Group.
“You can see us, five serving governors, as the face of this struggle. Both the leaders and elders of the party that you see here are the people behind those faces.
“We are in the South-West to review the situation within our party, to review where we are and to also look at what is going to happen in the coming elections,” Governor Makinde said, further noting that at the end of the deliberations, the group would fully brief the media on their stand on all the burning issues within the main opposition party.
“On behalf of our leaders and elders in the south west, I want to welcome members of the Integrity Group and wish us well,” he said.
Other PDP leaders at the meeting are former governors, Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo State), Ayo Fayose (Ekiti), Donald Duke (Cross River), Jonah Jang (Plateau) and former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Bode George.
Also present are former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke; Deputy National Chairman South of the PDP, Taofeek Arapaja; Senator Nasif Suleiman, Nnena Ukeje, Cross River governorship candidate, Senator Sandy Onor and Senator Mao Ohabunwa.
On his part, former Plateau State Governor, Jang said the demands of the governors, which include the resignation of the party’s National Chairman, Senator Iyiocha, Ayu, and the choice of his successor from the South still stand, adding that his colleagues and members of the Integrity group insist they will not participate in the PDP presidential campaign until their demands are met.
Jang said the Wike camp advised the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and Ayu to make up their minds before it is too late.
“After a careful review of developments, we have decided to stand on the decision we took at our Port-Harcourt meeting. We hereby again reiterate that the window of reconciliation in our great party remains open.”