The decision of the Peoples Democratic Party National Chairman, Umar Iliya Damagun, to remain silent following claims by former Rivers State Governor and newly appointed Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, that he notified him (Damagun) when he was nominated as a ministerial designate by President Bola Tinubu, has not gone down well with some leaders of the PDP.
Wike was among the 45 ministers inaugurated by President Bola Tinubu at the presidential villa on Monday.
During a press conference at the FCT Ministry’s office in Abuja, Wike said PDP cannot sanction him for accepting President Tinubu’s ministerial appointment.
Recall that before his appointment, there had been calls by some members of the PDP for Wike’s suspension for anti-party activities and his acceptance of the ministerial offer.
While addressing the call for suspension, Wike said he got approval from PDP leaders at the national and state levels to accept the ministerial appointment.
Wike described the move for his suspension as ridiculous, saying he wrote a letter to the acting PDP National Chairman to be part of Tinubu’s cabinet and got approval.
He said, “Before this appointment came, I wrote to the National Chairman. I wrote to the minority leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate. I wrote to the zonal chairman of the party and my state chairman.
“I wrote to my governor, and all of them wrote me back and said ‘accept.’ I have my evidence documented. Forget these reggae dancers. I call them reggae dancers because when you’ve lost your opportunity, you’ve lost your opportunity because of arrogance and impunity.”
Rather than confirm or deny the allegation, neither Damagum nor the PDP Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, has deemed it fit to address the issue, a development that has not gone down well with party leaders.
Speaking with The PUNCH on Saturday, a former governor of a North-West state said Damagum now needed to speak with other party leaders because “The centre will not hold for too long after this.”
“Most of us were worried when Wike was openly reaching out to the APC. I am sure you are aware that some of us even called for him to leave the party.
“The excuse given by the leadership of the party that we should wait until the presidential election petition was dispensed with was fair enough, and we kept our peace. But for Wike to say that Damagum was aware of his nomination, we are at a loss. The centre will not hold for too long after this except the chairman clears the air,” he said.
“We are not saying that what the Minister said is false, but we expected Damagum to clear his name. Why is he silent? Is he thinking that the matter we lie low? This claim by Wike cannot be swept under the carpet, but we are waiting to see what will happen in the next few days,” another member of the National Working Committee said.
On his part, the Deputy National Youth Leader of the PDP, Timothy Osadolor, expressed doubt about claims by Wike that he wrote to party leadership about his nomination and appointment.
He said, “Damagum never told anyone about a letter from Wike except they had private correspondences, but as the acting National Chairman of the party, such a letter would have been presented at the NWC meetings. If PDP subscribed to the idea of a Government of National Unity, it would have nominated a member, a loyal member, not a rebel.”