Details have emerged on the political deal that produced former Senate President, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, as consensus national chairmanship candidate of the Northern Caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the October 30 national convention.
He emerged the consensus candidate of the northern PDP leaders yesterday after a series of horse trading. He was declared candidate at the Bauchi State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja after a PDP Northern Caucus meeting.
Ayu, who emerged as the consensus candidate of the North Central caucus of the party on Tuesday night, emerged the consensus candidate of the northern caucus ahead of North West candidate, former Katsina State governor, Ibrahim Shema, and North East candidate, Senator Abdul Ningi.
The Adamawa State governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, who chaired the meeting of the Northern PDP Caucus said Ayu’s choice signals PDP move to return to power in 2023.
Recall that the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC) had zoned the national chairmanship to the North. Party leaders from the zone however met and resolved to come up with a consensus candidate last Wednesday.
It was gathered that the Wednesday meeting failed to produce a consensus candidate as northern leaders opposed Ayu’s choice in protest against PDP governors who backed his emergence as candidate.
However, a source, conversant of how Ayu’s candidate sailed through, told LEADERSHIP that the consensus candidate emerged after an agreement and undertaken was entered into among Northern leaders, governors and Ayu that his emergence will not preclude anybody from any zone from contesting the presidency.
The source revealed that it was agreed that Ayu will resign if the emergence of a presidential candidate tilts the scale in favour of any zone.
“It is after Ayu and the governors agreed to this that Shema and Nazif agreed to withdraw from the race,” he said.
Giving details on the negotiations, the source said that Wednesday’s meeting to select a consensus candidate failed when the governors saw the mood and number of people mobilised in and out of the venue.
“They realised their scheme will fail except they appeal to some top stakeholders and come clean instead of the manipulations. They then postponed it till 11am this morning,” he said.
He added that another meeting was fixed later on Wednesday night where Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed and others begged the leaders to support Ayu’s choice because all the governors had decided to back him.
The source added that at the height of the negotiations, Shema and Nazif threatened not to withdraw from the contest.
“Ayu was also brought in to appeal and plead for support and gave assurances that he will ensure a level playing field,” the source said.
However, while briefing newsmen after the meeting which produced Ayu as consensus candidate yesterday, chairman of the meeting, Adamawa State governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, said with Ayu’s emergence the party is ready for the 2023 election.
He said there was no election and there was no selection, adding that the northern governors will discuss with their southern counterparts over Ayu.
He said, “There is no vanquish there no victor in this meeting we all came out united. 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 together for Nigerians the 2023 general elections.
“Distinguished senator Iyorcha Ayu 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, they see reasons for this consensus candidate and give us support during the October 30 and 31 Convention of PDP.
“All of them were immensely qualified but through discussion and reconciliation we have emerged with a consensus list that was endorsed by the candidates themselves. There was no election and there was no selection,” he said.
In his acceptance speech, Ayu said, “It is my singular honour to accept the responsibilities which have been put on my shoulders from the North. I believe that at the end of the day, it will not only be the North, but it will be all Nigerians. The PDP will be back to its winning ways. And we will work tirelessly after the convention to rebuild the party to take over power to rebuild the country.
“I believe all Nigerians want a PDP government. Our 16 years moved this country forward. We intend to work together with all the leaders, not only in the North but across the country to reposition this country for the next generation of Nigerians.
“It will be an all-inclusive administration of the party. We will work collectively to produce policies which will be acceptable to all Nigerians. Today, our currency is the weakest in the world. Even the Somalians are better than us in Africa. We will work hard to solve the issue of insecurity.
“I want to thank the leaders of the North, who are united, determined and who are willing to work with me. I am a foundation member of this party. I worked in the party before, but I know that you cannot do it alone. We shall work as a team.
“And I believe with the support of Nigerians, who have suffered in the hands of a party that does not exist, of a party that does not care for the youths of Nigeria, of a party that does not care for anybody but themselves, victory, we shall achieve and administer to this country to the greater glory of God,” he said.
Meanwhile, stakeholders and PDP leaders in the South West are locked in a battle of wits over deputy national chairman position which had been zoned to the region.
It was learnt that some party stakeholders are not with the disposition of Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, over the matter.
It was gathered that those opposed to Makinde are displeased with what they alleged is his plot to impose former Osun State governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, on them as the deputy national chairman (South) of the party.
Also, the PDP has extended the sale of nomination forms for national officers for the national convention, from the earlier announced date of Friday, October 15, 2021 to Sunday, October 17, 2021.
As such, the last date for the submission of duly completed forms has also been extended from Saturday, October 16 to Tuesday, October 19, 2021.
The national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan who doubles as secretary, national convention publicity sub-committee, stated this in a statement.
In the statement, he said, “The date for the Screening of aspirants for various national offices has also been adjusted to Wednesday, October 20, 2021, while Screening Appeals, to consider appeals arising from the Screening Exercise, is now scheduled for Saturday, October 23, 2021.