•Prospects of southern presidential candidate brighten as Ayu emerges national chair
•Party inaugurates new NWC members December 9
•Atiku, Tambuwal, Saraki’s loyalists flood venue with presidential campaign posters
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
With the successful conduct of a peaceful convention and strong cohesion among its various organs and chieftains, the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday kicked off the process of retaking power from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 general election.
The emergence of a former President of the Senate, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu as the new National Chairman of the party from the National Convention held yesterday in Abuja, has also brightened the prospects of southern Nigeria to produce the presidential candidate of the party in 2023.
At the Eagle Square, Abuja venue of the convention, party chieftains such as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Chairman of the party’s convention committee and Governor of Adamawa State, Mr. Ahmadu Fintiri; former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; and Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum and Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal spoke glowingly on the party’s chances to retake power in 2023.
The party affirmed Ayu; the National Secretary, Senator Samuel Daddy Anyanwu, and others as the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, who will be inaugurated on December 9 this year.
The main opposition party will also amend its constitution after the new Electoral Act is signed into law.
Chairman of the party’s convention committee and Governor of Adamawa State, Fintiri, who disclosed the affirmation yesterday at the venue of the convention, said the convention was aimed at rescuing Nigeria from the bad governance of the APC.
Ayu and Anyanwu were affirmed as national chairman and national secretary following their nomination through consensus.
Ayu was nominated by the North-central, while Anyanwu was nominated by the South-east and both candidates were unopposed at the convention.
As at press time last night, only two offices were being contested for at the convention, as other contestants for the position of National Auditor stepped down for Mr. Sam Ben Nwosu late last night.
The office of the Deputy National Chairman (South) was being contested by a former national secretary of PDP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and a former deputy national chairman of the party in the South-west, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja.
The office of the Youth Leader was also being contested.
The zoning committee of the party headed by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State had zoned the office of the national chairman to the North.
Traditionally, when the national chairman emerges from the North, the presidential candidate of the party will emerge from the South and vice versa.
The emergence of Ayu from the North as the national chairman has raised hopes for a possible emergence of a southerner as the presidential candidate of the party in the 2023 general election.
The development has also brightened the prospects of a southerner succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari as the APC is also favourably disposed to field a southern presidential candidate.
Governors Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State; Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State; Babagana Zulum of Borno State; Darius Ishaku of Taraba State; Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State; Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State – all elected on the platform of the ruling party, as well as Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State (PDP), among others, had all expressed their preference for power to shift to the South.
However, the venue of the PDP convention was flooded with the presidential campaign posters of a former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; former Vice President Atiku; former Senate President, Saraki; Bauchi State governor, Senator Bala Mohammed; his Sokoto State counterpart, Tambuwal, and former governor of Bauchi State, Adamu Muazu.
Meanwhile, Fintiri said that Ayu and other members of the PDP would be sworn in on December 9 this year, to enable the outgoing NWC members to complete their tenure of four years, having been elected and sworn in on December 9, 2017.
He said the party is aimed at rescuing Nigeria from the pangs of the maladministration it has been plunged into in the past few years.
Fintiri said since the APC was elected in 2015, the testimony of those who jumped into the party’s ship is a telltale of how things have worsened in the land.
“The political mutation of the party over the years has seen a few of foundational members veering off sometimes. The confessions of most of those who sojourned to any other party in the country are loaded with regrets. Most of them are lucky to stage a comeback and as a magnanimous family, we are always glad to receive them with all privileges, back into our folds.
“For those, who are still contemplating a return, but are held back by any other force less than Nigeria, I call on you to break the force and return to where you rightly belong. It is time to rescue Nigeria.
“This is a Nigeria rescue mission. This is the role PDP was invented to play.
“We have always been there for Nigeria at its perilous time of need. We are not just a vehicle for winning elections but a symbolism of a free, democratic, and prosperous Nigeria that works for every citizen. We have demonstrated our commitment to these time-tested ideals that Nigerians have every reason to trust us enough more than a contraption that was formed solely to win the election and around the personal ambitions of certain individuals bereft of the knowledge of what to do with the victory,” Fintiri explained.
The Adawama State governor said Nigerians are yearning for the return of the party, particularly at the centre in 2023.
“That the people relish those golden moments when the PDP held sway at the centre is not in doubt. That citizens are yearning for the return of PDP at the centre as the 2023 elections draw nearer, is equally not in doubt.
“We, therefore have a duty not to disappoint our teeming supporters. We have to take back our country as we have always done. We have to save Nigeria. If we could force the country out of the clutches of the military, we can do this one huge task-push the people who don’t know the true definition of good governance and national co-existence out of power.
“This is a Nigeria rescue mission. This is the role PDP was invented to play.
“The 2021 national convention, presents a starting point for the Nigeria rescue mission,” he added.
He said that 34 candidates indicated interests in various national positions in the party, out of which 28 were cleared, two withdrew voluntarily while four were disqualified.
Fintiri said that there were 21 positions to be contested for and a total of 3,600 delegates to elect the officials.
According to him, “this convention will also not allow us to make and adopt amendments to our constitution. This is because we are foreseeing a need for more amendments after the new Electoral Act passed by the National Assembly is signed into law.
“We are therefore deferring the votes on constitutional amendments to a special convention to be held on any convenient date to be decided by the NEC.”
Earlier, the Senate Minority Leader, Senator. Enyinnaya Abaribe noted that Nigeria was going through difficult moments.
On his part, the outgoing national secretary of PDP, Senator Umar Tsuari said that the party encountered several challenges during their tenure.
Also speaking, the acting national chairman of the party, Mr. Yemi Akinwonmi, called on party members to “come together, bury our personal, individual and collective differences and put PDP and the interest of Nigeria above any consideration.”
In his speech, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu described the convention of the party as the engine for a new beginning
He said Nigerians are yearning for freedom from the suppressive, incompetent, cold-blooded, arrogant, treasury looting and anti-people APC.
We Have a Chance to Set the Ship Aright, Says Atiku
Addressing the delegates and party officials, former Vice President Atiku charged all Nigerians to take the opportunity presented by the PDP to set Nigeria aright.
He said that the convention is an opportunity to make decisions that would shape the future of the party for the benefit of all Nigerians.
Atiku said Nigeria was passing through the most difficult period of its existence, saying that he is over 70 years and had never seen the country in such a shape.
He said there was so much insecurity and social tension which were threatening the unity and corporate existence of the country.
PDP is Winning Despite Distractions, Says Tambuwal
Also speaking at the convention, the Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum and Governor of Sokoto State, Tambuwal expressed optimism that the party is set to reclaim its glory.
According to Tambuwal, despite the antics of detractors to roll back the 16 years’ impressive credentials of the party, the party is still at the forefront and endearing.
“Analysts and observers agreed that there are attempts to scuttle our unity as a party and as a people. People are working to present us as weak and in disarray.
“But I am happy to report that contrary to the naysayers the PDP is today the strongest and most cohesive party in Nigeria.
“I am happy to report that those who want to divide and weaken us are the ones failing and we are winning,” Tambuwal told a joyous and tumultuous crowd.
Anyim Declares Interest for 2023 Presidency
Meanwhile, a former Senate President, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, has declared that he will contest for the office of the President in 2023, no matter any zoning arrangement by the PDP.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja yesterday, Anyim noted that his ambition would not be tied to the zoning of the presidency to the South-east by the party.
“We presently have less than 18 months to the next elections and I feel the time was ripe to indicate my interest.”
He noted that the zoning committee constituted by the party was only saddled with zoning party positions and not elective positions ahead of 2023.
“Zoning of such positions was deferred but nothing stops anyone from the South-east zone from contesting the presidency even if it was not zoned to it,” he added.