A former Senate President, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, emerged as the consensus chairmanship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the October 30 convention after governors of the party prevailed on other aspirants.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party had zoned the position of national chairman to the North. Ayu’s candidature would be ratified at the convention of the party.
The caucuses of the party in the three geopolitical zones in the North had on Wednesday produced three zonal consensus candidates – Ayu (North Central), Ibrahim Shema (North West) and Suleiman Nazif (North East).
But at an enlarged meeting of the Northern caucus held at the Bauchi Lodge in Abuja, yesterday, Ayu was picked as the consensus candidate of the region.
Top party sources told newsmen that Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State had on Wednesday night after a meeting to pick a consensus candidate was postponed, lobbied stakeholders and other aspirants to support Ayu’s candidature.
“After the Wednesday meeting was postponed following agitations by all camps, the Bauchi governor and others convened another meeting where he pleaded that all governors have decided on Ayu and as such all should support him,” the source said.
He said Ayu was also brought in to appeal and seek the support of all. “It was the appeals by the governors that cleared the coast for the emergence of the former Senate president,” the source said.
Announcing the emergence of Ayu, Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa State said the stakeholders were united on the consensus candidate to win the 2023 general elections.
“There is no vanquished, there is no victor in this meeting. We all came out united,” he said.
In his remarks, Ayu assured stakeholders that he would run a purposeful party.
He called on the party leaders to join him to reposition the PDP with a view to ensuring that it bounces back stronger and takes over the Presidential Villa in 2023.
He said that under his leadership, no one could use the money to buy his conscience and no single man would own PDP.
Another source in the party said Ayu emerged based on a gentleman agreement that his selection won’t preclude anybody from the zone from contesting the presidency.
The source said it was after the agreement was reached that Ayu’s endorsement for the chairmanship position was sealed.
Contenders for the presidential ticket of the party from the North include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governor Waziri Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, former Senate president Bukola Saraki, former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, and former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido.
However, a group, North Central PDP Rebirth Forum (NCPDPRF) has faulted the endorsement of Ayu, insisting that the presidency is what the North Central wants in 2023.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja yesterday, Convener of the group, Mohammed Idah, said there were clandestine moves by some PDP stalwarts to rob the geopolitical zone of the presidential ticket by ceding the slot of the party’s national chairmanship to it.
Born on November 1952 in Gboko, Benue State, North Central, Ayu crossed over into the political terrain after lecturing at the University of Jos.
In the Third Republic, he was elected as a senator on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP). At the upper chamber, he was elected the Senate President. However, he was impeached in November 1993.
During the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo, he served in various ministerial positions between 1999 and 2007. In 2007, he was head of the presidential campaign team of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.