As campaigns officially begin ahead of the 2023 general elections, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Iyorchia Ayu, has returned to Nigeria after a two-week trip to Europe.
“His plane touched down at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, at about 7pm,” Ayu’s Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Simon Imobo-Tswam, said in a statement on Friday.
Ayu jetted out of the country on September 14and handed over to Deputy Chairman (North), Iliya Damagun.
He jetted overseas amid a crisis rocking the main opposition party. While away, at least four members of the PDP National Working Committee returned about N122.4 million to the party.
In separate letters to Ayu, the NWC members alleged that the monies were paid to their accounts without their knowledge to cover “scandalous financial misappropriation”. However, the PDP debunked such allegation, saying the monies were their “housing allowance”.
Also, while he was away, the faction of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike in the PDP persistently demanded Ayu’s resignation.
With the victory of Atiku Abubakar (from Adamawa State) at the PDP presidential primary in May, Wike and some serving and former governors in the party have mounted pressure on Ayu to vacate the position for a southerner.
They argued that northerners cannot occupy both positions, claiming that Ayu had before the primary promised to resign should a northerner emerge as the presidential candidate of the party. The controversy has torn the party apart as Ayu insisted that he won’t step down till after his four-year term.
Wike and his allies including Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State were conspicuously absent this week when Atiku kicked off his campaigns.