PDP Leadership Crisis: Atiku Backs Suswam For National Chairmanship Position

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The power dynamics within the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have reportedly reached a boiling point as the rivalry between former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and FCT Minister Nyesom Wike intensifies ahead of the party’s 98th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.

At the heart of the matter is whether Umar Damagum, the acting National Chairman of the party, should retain his position or be replaced.

Calls to remove Damagum and appoint a substantive chairperson have been growing, with 60 members of the House of Representatives demanding his exit and the selection of a chairman from the North Central region.

Former Benue governor Gabriel Suswam and Dr Emmanuel Agbo are prominent figures vying for the position of PDP National Chairman, with Suswam receiving backing from Atiku’s camp.

The move has sparked tension between the two camps, further fueled by past disagreements over the party’s presidential ticket for the 2023 elections.

Damagum, formerly PDP National Deputy Chairman (North), became the party’s acting National Chairman following the suspension of the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, by the court in March last year.

The court action leading to Ayu’s suspension was filed by a PDP member, Terhide Utaan, who based his request on an earlier vote of no confidence passed in Ayu by the executives of his ward, Igyorov ward, Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State.

Speaking on the power play before the Thursday NEC meeting, a party chieftain from the North Central, who spoke to Punch, said, “We are aware that our zone is receiving the necessary support from Atiku. Many stakeholders from within and outside the zone, including Atiku, are backing Suswam. Consultations are ongoing, and the North Central will ensure that it nominates Ayu’s replacement.

“Wike and some PDP governors want Damagum to be confirmed as the PDP substantive chairman. They are supporting someone from the North-East to complete the tenure of a position zoned to the North Central for their selfish reasons.

“They want the North Central to nominate a name for National Deputy Chairman (North) to replace Damagum once he is confirmed. They simply want to undermine this party.”

Another source, a highly placed member of the PDP National Working Committee who is not authorised to speak for the party, reiterated that the position of the PDP National Chairman is currently occupied and not vacant.

He said, “Since Ayu is in court, the position is not vacant. The PDP Constitution does not specify the duration or tenure for someone to assume the role of acting party leader. Therefore, Damagum will continue to serve in that capacity.”