Why North PDP Leaders Adopted Ayu As Consensus Chair Candidate
• Party may throw presidential ticket open
Former Senate President Iyorchia Ayu was tipped for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national chairman by the Northern Caucus because of his flexibility and capacity for compromise, it was learnt yesterday.
Party sources said Ayu was supported as a consensus candidate, following an assurance by him that he would be disposed to making concessions as may be dictated by the party’s presidential nomination.
On Thursday, Prof Wale Oladipo was endorsed for the position of Deputy Chairman (South) by the Osun chapter at an emergency meeting in Osogbo, the state capital.
Also in the race is former Osun State Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
A source said: “With Ayu as chairman, there is the likelihood of having liberal rules that will accommodate the various interests regardless of the ethnic or religious affiliations of would be contestants.
“More so, he is perceived to be open minded on issues and he has always been known to be ready to make personal sacrifices when the need arises. He has always been a team player who puts the collective interest above personal pursuits”.
The source added that Ayu would be more disposed to open contest for the presidential ticket and he can be relied upon to make concessions and personal sacrifices in the interest of the PDP.
He added: “For instance, should another candidate from the North wins the presidential ticket, Ayu would not hesitate to work for the success of the candidate even if it would require him relinquishing his position to strike the needed balance”, the source added.
Another source added that it was on the basis of this mutual understanding between Ayu and the stakeholders that other chairmanship aspirants from the Northeast and Northwest withdrew from the race.
The emergence of Ayu may have confirmed growing speculations that the PDP merely used the zoning of its chairmanship seat to the North as a decoy.
Analysts have described the move as a red herring, aimed at misleading rival political parties on the choice of the party’s presidential candidate ahead of the 2023 election.
Ayu’s endorsement will be ratified by the party through affirmative voting at the October 30-31 convention.
Adamawa State Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, who unveiled Ayu, after the Northern Caucus meeting held at the Bauchi State Governor’s Lodge, said: “There is no vanquished and there is no victor in this meeting. We all came out united. Senator Iyorchia 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 that they see reasons for this consensus candidate and give us support during the 30 and 31 convention of PDP”.
Ayu said he was honoured by the decision to pick him as consensus candidate, adding that he would carry out his responsibilities without fear or favour.
He said: “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.”
It was learnt that a search team raised by the governors rated Ayu as “deep and stubborn enough to lead the opposition to victory in 2023.”
But despite Ayu’s emergence from the Northcentral, key presidential aspirants from the North have not given up.
A former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; a former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and ex-Governor Sule Lamido have asked PDP to throw its presidential ticket open.
It was however jubilation in Atiku’s camp over Ayu’s choice because the new PDP national chairman-designate is an ally of the ex-Vice President.
Other presidential aspirants have cautious optimism on Ayu.
The battle in the party has shifted to the choice of a candidate for the office of the Deputy National Chairman, which is zoned to the South-West.
While some governors and leaders, led by Governor Seyi Makinde, want ex-Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, a few other leaders, including ex-Governor Ayodele Fayose, prefer Prof. Wale Oladipo.
Both Oyinlola and Oladipo were former National Secretary of the party.
It was learnt that many party leaders insisted on a former President of the Senate, Sen. David Mark but PDP governors were adamant on Ayu.
A source in the thick of the horse-trading, said: “In spite of the last minutes support for Mark, the governors opted for Ayu in line with their already-perfected script.
“The governors had raised a secret search team in the past few months for a candidate who can turnaround the PDP into a viable and constructive opposition. They said they needed a candidate who will stand against the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Ayu was chosen because the search team rated him as ‘deep and stubborn” enough to address governance issues and reawaken Nigerians to return PDP to power in 2023. He is a good marketer.
“Also, the governors felt it would be easier for them to manage Ayu than Mark, who is a role model to all of them. Some of them alleged that old age is slowing down Mark.
“For Ayu’s script to succeed, what they did was to ensure the zoning of the PDP chairman to the North and the micro-zoning to the North-Central. And the North-Central micro-zoning was scaled down to Benue State where Governor Samuel Ortom sealed the fate of Mark.
“The entire process looked plain and consultative, but the governors have made up their minds on Ayu”
It was however, learnt that some Northern governors and PDP leaders launched a counter-plot by rejecting the micro-zoning to the North-Central.
The counter-plot strengthed the aspiration of Ibrahim Shema (North-West) and initially Sen. Suleiman Nazif (North-East) against Ayu.
According to another source, when the counter-plot to stop Ayu was intense, some loyalists of Atiku in the North-East overwhelmed the PDP Caucus in the zone and facilitated the emergence of a former Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Abdul Ningi.
The source said: “Immediately Ningi emerged from the North-East, we knew the contest was left to be between Ayu and Shema. Tactically, Ningi (an ally of Atiku) was just a shield to guarantee Ayu’s emergence.
“True to prediction, Ningi stepped down for Ayu and it was apparent that Shema could not garner enough support against the PDP governors’ anointed candidate. Having read the handwriting on the walls, Shema also withdrew from the race. This was how Ayu emerged.”
Atiku a former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and ex-Governor Sule Lamido were agitating that the PDP should throw its presidential ticket open.
“These presidential aspirants from the North are holding on to the last straw because their ambition is at stake. They have a 50-50 chance.
“To back Ayu’s candidature, they made the demand for open presidential ticket a precondition. There was no any written agreement but there was a common understanding on this. Some governors and leaders only tagged along for peace to reign, ” a NEC member added.
Some governors and leaders, led by Governor Seyi Makinde, wanted ex-Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, a few other leaders, including ex-Governor Ayodele Fayose, have shown preference for Prof. Wale Oladipo.
Both Oyinlola and Oladipo were former National Secretary of the party.
A former governor said: “The PDP governors were still weighing options last night between Oyinlola and Oladipo.
“If Oyinlola gets the slot, Fayose would have lost out completely in the South-West. If the slot is given to Oladipo, the camp of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo would be sidelined.”
Announcing Oladipo’s endorsement, Osun PDP chair Sunday Bisi, said. “The Osun PDP stakeholders and especially concerned delegates of the party, gathered here this afternoon to openly demonstrate our support for Prof Wale Oladipo in his quest to become the next Deputy National Chairman South, of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party.
“Professor Wale Oladipo is a senior member of our great party, with adequate requisite experience in party administration at the national level. It is our belief that professor Wale Oladipo is eminently qualified for this post and we will support him.”
The meeting attended by the governorship aspirant, Senator Ademola Adeleke, former PDP chair, Ganiyu Olaoluwa, Peter Babalola, Sunday Atidade, and Teslim Igbalaye among others.
2021 National Convention: PDP extends sale of forms for national officers by two days
Yesterday, PDP has extended, by two days, the sale of nomination forms for national officers.
The closing date, earlier fixed for October 15, is now Sunday, October 17.
In a statement issued in Abuja by Kola Ologbondiyan, the National Publicity Secretary, who is also the Secretary, National Convention Publicity Sub-Committee, said:
“Accordingly, the date for the Screening of aspirants for various national offices has also been adjusted to Wednesday, October 20, while screening appeals, to consider appeals arising from the screening exercise, is now scheduled for Saturday, October 23.”