By Olusesan Laoye
Political developments in the main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, is moving with the slipperiness of a quick sand and position and alliances seem to the changing by the day.
At the beginning of last week, former senate president, David Mark was the favoured candidate for the party chairmanship position in the coming convention on October 30.
Before the weekend, another former senate president, Prof. Iyorchua Ayu had been widely adopted as a consensus candidat3 by the region, the north central. Both mark and Ayu are from Benue state.
Party insiders said that it was actually a clash between the state governor, Dr.
Samuel Ortom on one side and former vice president AtikuAbubakar and former senate president BukolaSaraki, on the other. Mark was the governor’s candidate, so the other side had to fish out Ayu, a well-known Atikuprotegee to checkmate the opponent.
The implication of Ayu’s emergence is that Atiku is still playing strong and may go for the broke at the convention. Although the general impression is that the Zoning committee and party NEC left the issue of where the president comes from open, it is unlikely that both positions will come from one part of the country.
Some had even insinuated during the week that Ayu was tapped because he is a bridge builder and would be expected to resign if a northern clinches ticket. However, such view assumes that south will accept whatever the north throws at them, which may be too presumptuous and even condescending.
Ayu’s emergence came at a stakeholders meeting held at the Benue House Asokoro Abuja and his nomination was announced by Ahmadu Fintiri, governor of Adamawa State, Atiku’s home state. Before now, there had been issues among party leaders from all the six geopolitical zones of the party, over where the chairmanship should be zoned to.
Initially it was believed that the southwest would produce the chairman but the zoning committee headed by the Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi. Ugwuanyì changed the arrangement, as it recommended that all the present positions occupied by the North should go to the south, while that of the South go to the North. This was, however accepted by the National Executive Council of the Party (NEC).
At the end of the stakeholders’ meeting, Governor Fintiri of Adamawa said Ayu was unanimously chosen among the three candidates for the position.
According to him “Out of the three northern candidates that all the three zones produced, the candidates themselves, in the spirit of unity and togetherness, in the spirit of ensuring that PDP emerges and benefits from our efforts so that we can win the 2023 general election, distinguished senator IyorchiaAyu has emerged as a consensus candidate of the north.”
“With this, we are fully prepared, we are ready. We will be talking with our colleagues from other parts of the country, especially the south, that they see reasons for this consensus candidate and give us support during the convention of PDP”
With this development also, it means those who are jostling for the presidency in the North East and North West, like the former Vice President AtikuAbubakar (North East) SuleLamido (North West) and others are now free.
Only those from the North Central like Senator BukolaSaraki, where Ayu comes from would find it difficult to come out in few of the micro zoning, which favoured the zone for the chairmanship.
The emergence of Ayu according to political observers has changed the calculations in the party as this kind of amicable agreement has never happen before in the history of the party, which position has always been characterized with rancour and infighting among stakeholders.
It was argued that what the party should focus on is how the emergence of Ayu which would be ratified at the October 30 convention of the party in Abuja would help the development of the party, ridden with crisis at both the national level and across the states.
Ayu is seen as a man with high pedigree who would turn the fortune of the party around in view of the positions he had held before, both in the academia as ASUU chairman and in the senate.
It was believed that his coming on board would cement all the cracks in the party and being a gentle man, he is expected to ensure that all the court cases filed by aggrieved .party members across the states are settled out of court.
He would also be expected to use his wealth of experience to formulate a policy that would help the party win the heart of the people towards the coming general election, since the PDP now remains the only alternative to APC, which vast majority of Nigerians complain about, for letting them down, inerns of insecurity, corruption and nepotism in governance, which gave rooms for agitations and self-actualization, among various ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.
Ayu, it was said, has a lot to offer the PDP and he is expec4ed to follow the footsteps of past Chairmen of the party from the North Central, such as Banabas Gemade, Audu Ogbe and Col. Ahmadu Ali, who were said to have done well when they piloted the affairs of the PDP.
He is even expected to do more considering the prevailing circumstances presently in the party and Nigeria.He will also need to do what would curb further exodus of prominent people from the party, to the ruling APC.
However, his great challenge will be how to settle the issue of the party’s presidential ticket, which is going to be a make or mar option for the party.
As a result of this present situation in the NWC election, it appears that the post of the National Secretary of the party must have gone to the South East.The South West right now, seems to be losing out and has yet to get an important position in the party.
The post of the National secretary, which it was learnt could have been ceded to the South West could not, because the former governor of Ekiti State, AyodeleFayose and Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State have carried their age long feud to the National body and this is right now affecting the common interest of the zone in the party.
Meanwhile Ayu himself has already realised the challenges ahead of him and that was why he begged for the cooperation of all members to enable him succeed.
In his reaction after he was endorsed, Ayu said he will work with party stakeholders and initiate programmes that would make the PDP win the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 presidential election.
“The PDP will be back with its winning ways. We will work tirelessly after the convention to rebuild the party to take over power to rebuild the country,” he said.
“I believe all Nigerians missed the PDP government. Our 16 years moved the country forward. We intend to work together with all the leaders, not only in the north, but across the country to reposition this country to the next generation of Nigerians, he argued.
According to the timetable put out by the Convention Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd), expression and nomination form cost N3 million for the chairmanship, Deputy N2 million and N750000 for other positions. The screening of aspirants is slated for today Monday.
18, October, appeal for October 21, while the publication of the cleared aspirant would be made on October 23.
The NWC would adopt the cleared names of contestants to all positions on October 25.