2023 Zoning Battle: I will resign as PDP leader if… — Iyorchia Ayu, northern nominee for National Chair

Dr Iyorchia Ayu recently emerged as the consensus candidate of the North for the position of National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, ahead of the party’s convention next week.

In this interview, the former Senate President says Nigerians will support a rejuvenated PDP to unite Nigeria, restore hope and expand the economy.
He describes the All Progressives Congress, APC, the ruling party at the federal level, as a complete indisciplined alliance that has failed Nigerians. Excerpts:

Does your adoption as the consensus PDP candidate of the North mean that we should be looking forward to a mere coronation on the 30th and 31st of October when the party holds its National Convention?
Well, it’s not a coronation because we don’t run chieftaincy title in the party; therefore, we don’t coronate in the party. We are still going to follow the democratic process. I’m only a consensus of the North, so the rest of the country has to accept me and the law provides that we go to the convention and do the voting.

Everybody who goes to the convention has to vote yes or no and it is my prayer that they vote yes. It is only then that I can become the elected Chairman of the party. We are a very democratic party and we respect the rule of law, so we have to follow due process.
If PDP should pick its presidential candidate from the North, will you give up your position to ensure the geopolitical balancing in the party?

Luckily, party positions are not tied to the position of executive and legislative positions. However, I’m a very democratic person and I will do everything to promote the interest and image of my party. If the PDP says I should step down after a presidential candidate emerges and happens to be from the North, I will be very glad to do so because what we want is to take over the government and run the government in the interest of Nigerians. So, I’ll sacrifice anything to ensure that my party wins.
What is your reconciliation agenda for PDP considering how divided the party has been in recent times?

The party is not as divided as some people perceive it. There were a few difficulties in the party but we the party elders and leaders were able to intervene and resolve the little differences that existed among members of the party. As for reconciliation, the process has been on. We had a committee on reconciliation led by a former Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki.

Are you going to extend an olive branch to the suspended PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus?

Let me correct you a little bit. Uche Secondus is not suspended. He’s still the Chairman of the party. He’s still in office and he is going to be in office until a Chairman is elected. Therefore, when a new Chairman is elected, we believe he will be a very vital member of the party.
He’s been with the party right from the beginning. At the state level, he rose to become the state Chairman of the party in his state.

The unity of PDP in the North which eventually threw up your candidacy is being commended. What can the nation learn from such an action?

What the nation can learn from the northern part of the country is very simple. Nigeria is not as divided as the APC government has made us believe. Whether in the North or in the South, the current APC government has completely divided this country. Families are divided, communities are divided, and states are divided into different fractions. People are being killed left, right and centre. Nigerians have lost hope.

What has happened in the North is to demonstrate to all Nigerians that Nigerians as a people can be united if you are fair, if you are just, if you try to be equitable and if you try to concentrate on the things that worry Nigerians.

We will reunite this country and bring about serious development and expand the economy and incorporate everybody into what we are doing. Nobody will feel alienated and want to leave the country. I’m a proud Nigerian and want the next generation to be proud to be Nigerians.

You will be the third PDP National Chairman from Benue State and the sixth from the north-central region since the inception of the party. Why are Benue and the north-central having such a high turnover of PDP Chairman?

In the second republic, our father, J.S Tarka, played a key role.

The north-central has always played important role in the development or in holding this country together. Even in the formation of the party, the north-central played a very key role led by our father, Chief Solomon Lar, who led us very successfully and, later, we had other PDP chairmen.
Other zones too have had PDP Chairman not that it is exclusive to the north-central but it so happened that we play a key role in the democratic process and we will continue to do that.

We hope that the north-central will also, along the line, be appreciated for what we do for this country. We are like glue for the whole of Nigeria.

What is your take on the yearning of the people from the South to produce the candidate of PDP?

It’s only the PDP that has produced a President in the South. This is not the first time the South has yearned to be President. When we formed the party in 1998, the North met and unanimously decided that the presidency should go to the South and I was a key player in that decision. We not only gave the presidency to the South but I was selected to be the director-general of Obasanjo’s first campaign in 1998/1999 and we did it successfully.

(NAN)

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