From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja and Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Former Senate president, Iyorchia Ayu, yesterday, emerged consensus candidate of the North for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national chairmanship.
Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, announced it after a meeting of PDP northern caucus at the Bauchi Government in Abuja.
Fintiri, who is chairman of a panel set up by northern leaders to screen aspirants from the zone, said with Ayu’s emergence, the North would reach out to party leaders in the South to sell his candidature.
While the North Central nominated Ayu as its consensus candidate, North East and North West nominated former Senate leader, Abdul Ningi and former Kastina State governor, Ibrahim Shema, respectively.
However, the Adamawa governor said although the three aspirants were qualified to lead the party, following intense discussion, northern leaders settled for Ayu.
“All of them were immensely qualified but through discussion and reconciliation, we have emerged with consensus list that was endorsed by the candidates themselves. There was no election and there was no selection.”
Ayu’s emergence is the climax of days of intrigues and horse-trading among northern PDP stakeholders.
The former Senate president would be presented to the PDP National Convention holding in Abuja from October 30 to 31 for ratification as national chairman.
A party source, who attended the meeting, told Daily Sun that “at the meeting, Ningi withdrew from the contest as the North East pledged support for the North Central. When the North West discovered they cannot go alone, they equally supported Ayu.”
Ayu, in a chat with journalists, said as chairman, he would run an inclusive administration and work with all leaders of the party across the country to return the PDP to power.
“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 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 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 Northern leaders, 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 team,” he said.
Multiple sources said he emerged based on agreement that his adoption would not preclude anybody from any zone from contesting the Presidency.
One of the decisions reached at the meeting was that if the emergence of a presidential candidate tilt the scale in favour of any zone, the chairman would resign and work for the candidate.
“It is after Ayu and the governors agreed to this that Shema and Nazif agreed to withdraw from the race.”
He said Atiku played no role in all the negotiations and observed that it was only last weekend that both men spoke for the first time after many years of not communicating.
Meanwhile, former minister of State for Education, Kenneth Gbagi, has said the PDP wwould win the 2023 presidential election.
Gbagi, governorship aspirant in Delta State, said Nigerians have seen the difference between the PDP and the All Progressives Congress (APC), and now know better where to cast their votes.
He said the country has deteriorated in the past six years under the APC-led Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Gbagi spoke at Oginibo in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State after his return from Ondo State where he was conferred with Aare Atunluse of Akure kingdom.
The former mnister is convinced that politicians defecting from PDP to APC were be coerced, adding that such persons remained PDP members who would work for the success of the party.
“All the people running from PDP to APC are not APC members. They are PDP members in blood, soul and body, and they are all going to work for PDP.
“PDP is going to produce the next president in Nigeria. If you don’t marry two wives, they say, you do not know which one is better. It is for you to marry two wives and see the difference.
“And you will have a situation in the next election where they, who thought they are forced by their own thinking to join APC, will be bearing APC in the day and at the night, they are PDP members,” he said.
The security expert and renowned entrepreneur also said Nigeria would not disintegrate, and accused the Federal Government of being the problem of the country.
“If there is any problem in Nigeria, it is the government. What ought to be beautiful, what ought to be the happiest thing of our life is our population.
“Population anywhere in the world is a money spinner, an economic driver, but all of that we are toiling with, hence we are where we are today,” he said
“We, as Nigerians, must correct immediately the situation before machineries or government of nations other than our nation come to correct it for us.”
Meanwhile, a pressure group within the PDP, North Central PDP Rebirth Forum ( NCPDPRF) has rejected the emergence of Ayu as consensus chairmanship candidate.
The convener of the group, Mohammed Idah, in a statement, yesterday, stated that the former Senate President’s adoption is part of alleged plan to exclude the North Central from the 2023 presidential contest..
“The North Central has produced several PDP national Chairmen. For the avoidance of doubts, the Pioneer PDP chairman was Chief Solomon Lar from Plateau State, Engr. Barnabas Gemade and Chief Audu Ogbe were all PDP chairmen from Benue State.
“Ahamdu Ali from Kogi state, Alhaji Kawu Baraje from kwara state also became chairman of our party without any benefit to the North Central. We totally reject the move to stop the North Central from aspiring for the Presidency in 2023 using any guise. Not even the position of the National Chairman of PDP,” the group stated.