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General News of Friday, 29 April 2022


You’re my personal friend, I won't support you, but fair to all - Ayu to Atiku

Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)

The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, yesterday, said much as former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, remained his personal friend, with whom he had fought many political battles, he would not support his presidential bid, because he and the National Working Committee (NWC) were determined to conduct a transparent and fair presidential primary election.

This is as Atiku has asked the PDP leadership to give him a right of first refusal in its choice of presidential candidate, because already, he had some 11 million votes in the kitty.

Also, the Bauchi State Governor and presidential hopeful, Senator Bala Mohammed, has said contrary to speculation, the decision by former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida and Professor Ango Abdullahi, to settle for him and Senator Bukola Saraki as the consensus presidential candidates of the north was not a unilateral decision.

In the same vein, the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, who intensified his consultations for presidential bid, met with former ministers of the party from 1999 to 2015 and told them he was the best man for the job.

This, nonetheless, the PDP, yesterday, began the screening of its 17 presidential aspirants, even as it was adamant on the zoning of its presidential ticket.

However, Ayu, while speaking during the screening of Atiku, said, “I cannot deny that you are my friend. I don’t deny my friends. We worked together in various capacities. You and I plotted the emergence of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“But in this, I will not work for you. I will work for all the 17 presidential aspirants. I will not take sides with you. I will work for all the aspirants. Let the delegates decide, who is the presidential candidate of the party.

“If you happen to emerge as the presidential candidate, the party will support you. The party has an internal process of choosing its candidate and we will follow that process. We are not known of conducting a controversial presidential convention. Our presidential convention will be thorough and transparent,” Ayu stated.

The PDP boss hinted that, at the next National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, the party would set up a manifesto committee to articulate its policies, including the foreign policy focus of the party, to enable Nigerians know where it stood on all issues.

Atiku, while speaking, called on the NWC to ensure that he was given the right of first refusal in the contest of who becomes the presidential candidate, because he has already 11 million voters in the bag.

Addressing the NWC members, Atiku said, “I want the PDP to give me the right of first refusal, because I have already 11 million votes in the kitty. And I dare say, Mr. chairman, I am the best candidate. Under normal circumstances, Mr. Chairman, this is a guy, who has already 11 million votes in his kitty.

“And I think, as a party, you should give me the right of first refusal but we are in a democracy. All what I can urge you is to make sure that the way you have started, you also conclude the way you have started by being very fair, very credible, giving every contestant the opportunity to face the electorate.

“Of course, when I declared to run for the president of this country, I said I was going to emphasise on five key issues and these five key issues are germane. I said I was going to make sure that I reunite this country. And that was why I referred myself as the unifier.

“Secondly, I said I was going to deal decisively with security issues, because there has to be rule of law, there has to be security. Before anything else, Mr. Chairman, and members of the National Working Committee, about two months ago, I was on a visit to Niger State and I decided to pay a courtesy call to the governor. The governor told me, sir, we have about twelve local governments, which are under the control of bandits.

“We don’t know how to conduct elections in those local governments. And I went to the President, I said, Mr. President, we need more policemen and the President said how can I give you more policemen when the inspector general of police and the police service commission are in court on who will recruit policemen.

“I cannot be that kind of President. And that is where we added today. We cannot recruit policemen because the two agencies are in court and we have a president who cannot bring under control, his own heads of departments, not even ministers,” Atiku stated.

He, therefore, “promised to deal with the economy. So, of course, after you have achieved unity, after you have achieved peace, the next is to deal with the economy. And you known Mr. chairman and many of your colleagues here on the National Working Committee know that when we came into office in 1999, we virtually met a similar situation like we have today.

“Nigeria was indebted. We have no foreign reserves, economy was in shambles. Mr. Chairman, and very many of you here, who are in doubt may know that by the time we left, we left Nigeria in the most healthiest economic position. We have done it before, Mr. Chairman, we can do it again.

“Of course, I also said in my declaration speech, I was also going to deal with the issue of devolving more powers and resources to the states because I believe that is the best way to get Nigeria developed to its fullest capacity by giving autonomy and resources to the various components.

“There are some of us who grew up in the First Republic, when we had regions that were virtually in charge of everything in their respective regions, ranging from security to economy to everything, and we saw how we fed and we believe this is the best way to make sure that this country is developed to its fullest potentials.

“I’m really not here to lecture you, I’m just really here to inform you of my decision, to run again, and also to urge you to provide the right kind of leadership so that the best candidate can emerge. We all know, every Nigerian knows that the APC, has failed but we should not take Nigerians for granted. We should go all out to let them know APC has failed.

“It will continue to fail. No matter what gap they have come or they appear to be, they will continue to fail and PDP has not failed on your comparative analyses. If you compare the achievements of PDP and the failure of APC, you know that you have no any other choice than PDP,” he said.

Throwing light on the consensus report, Mohammed said the committee empaneled by Babangida and handed over to Abdullahi to implement was in consultation with almost all the PDP governors, both in the south and the North.

Spokesperson of the Bala Mohammed Campaign, Prof. Udenta Udenta, said, “The outcome of the report that said Bala Mohammed and senator Bukola Saraki are consensus presidential aspirants for the north was not unilateral. It was the outcome of serious consultations. Governors in the north and south were consulted and their opinions taken into consideration.

“It was not a unilateral decision. It is a question of a bad loser. If not, both Babangida and Ango Abdullahi would have spoken. They have spoken and the world have heard and they are watching.

“You don’t expect them to be binding words about. They have spoken through their report and it is expected for all concerned to adhere to the report of the committee. Their report was based on consensus and consultations,” he said.

But Tambuwal, during meeting with PDP’s former ministers, in a statement by his media aide, Mohammed Bello, urged the party to aggregate its acts and move towards coming up with a presidential candidate that Nigerians would buy into and elect during the 2023 election.

According to Tambuwal, “What is key for PDP is a candidate that we can all work to sell together and win this election, not where the person is coming from,” adding that, his quest for the topmost job in the country was driven by altruism, patriotism and unity of the nation.

He said, “it is nothing personal; t is all about our country,” boasting that he had a fair understanding of the country, where, unfortunately, “things are now getting bad.”

His words: “I have an understanding of the Nigerian system today and can be bridge that is all round,” pointing out that Nigerians were now “in a ship without a captain and it is clearly sinking. As Governors, we are limited in what can be done. The security architecture is centralised within the purview of the Federal Government.”

On his alleged rift with former President Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, Tambuwal said his differences with both men were misconstrued as personal.

“There was nothing personal,” he said, noting that, he “had reasons to disagree” with Jonathan and also “disagreed with PMB from 2018 because of the way he ran and is still running the country. We must not fail our country.”

Chairman of the Ministers’ Forum, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (SAN), said the group agreed to have this sensitive interactive session with him “because 2023 is a very serious business.”

Turaki, who said the Forum had turned down similar requests from other aspirants, said, “There’s a failure of leadership in the country. Never before has Nigeria been so divided,” he said, proffering that the country wanted a leader that is a unifier – not too old and too young, cosmopolitan, with listening ears, has respect for other, ability to aggregate diverse opinions without compromising democracy.

Meanwhile, as the PDP began the screening of presidential aspirants, the NEC of the party is expected to meet next Wednesday to discuss the report of the 37-man committee that threw the presidential ticket open.

Stakeholders of the party have, however, described the screening exercise as “putting the cart before the horse”.

Some of PDP NEC members, who spoke to THISDAY off-record, said “by embarking on the screening of the presidential aspirants before the final decision of the NEC next week, is the indication that the party doesn’t want to really ensure that the rotation and zoning as contained in the constitution of the party is respected.

“Of what value is it to screen aspirants without an equivocal position on the rotation and zoning of the presidential ticket. The issue is that the PDP is running away from what will eventually come to hurt it,” the PDP NEC stated.

“By and large, we must still discuss the matter at the Wednesday NEC meeting and we shall let the world hear our voice. We cannot be intimidated,” he said.

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