Intrigues as PDP governors take firm charge of party

• Politicking over, it’s time to rescue Nigeria, say Ayu, Arapaja
• Akinwonmi-led NWC may resign for Ayu’s early inauguration
• 25-year-old national youth leader-elect visits Saraki receives advice
• After the fierce contest, Oyinlola concedes, congratulates Arapaja

“We will move ahead to develop this country. We did it before. We are going to do it again. I want to thank the governors,” Mr Iyorcha Ayu, newly elected national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said in his thank-you speech to draw the curtain on a highly anticipated but less keenly contested convention in Abuja yesterday.

Ayu, who was the consensus candidate, got 3,426 affirmative votes out of the total 3,511 accredited voters. He told Nigerians PDP was back to take over and “develop” the country, adding that “PDP will come back to unite our people, put them together, north and south, east and west as it did when it was in power for 16 years.”

The chairman-elect said: “Many people imagined that this convention will lead to the break up of PDP. Those people who are dreaming like that, their dreams were misplaced.

“When we started this party 23 years ago, we never in any way imagined that the journey will get us to this stage. A stage where we ruled for 16 years and then went into rough times; but for anybody who bothers to see, PDP is back. PDP is back to rescue Nigeria from the terrible mess we have been in, in the last six years.”

Efforts to achieve consensus for all 21 elective offices suffered a setback as agreement could not be reached for three offices – deputy national chairman (North), deputy national chairman (South) and national youth leader, won by 25-year-old Mohammed Suleiman.

Suleiman, who hails from Kaduna State, polled 3,072 votes to defeat his challenger, Usman Elkudan, who scored 219 votes.

In the build-up to the convention, Suleiman said he is barely two years older than the PDP, which was established in 1998, adding that his emergence would help the party to restore its image to the vision of the PDP founding fathers.

The youth leader-elect, who was at the former Senate President, Bukola Saraki’s home in Abuja on Sunday, thanked the former lawmaker and others who supported his ambition to assume the position.

Saraki charged Suleiman to make a difference in his new office. He assured the young party leader of his support and advice when needed.

Taofeek Arapaja, a former deputy governor of Oyo State, polled 2,004 votes to emerge the national deputy chairman (South), defeating Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former governor of Osun State, with 705 votes; and for the position of national deputy chairman (North), Umar Damagum, ex governorship candidate of Yobe State, polled 2,222 votes to beat Inna Ciroma, former Minister of Women Affairs from Borno State, who garnered 365 votes.

On Friday night, prominent leaders of the party met with its 13 governors in a last-minute effort to prevent Oyinlola and Arapaja from going into open political contests but none of the two could step down for the other and at last, the battle had to be brought to the open.

However, those who developed a soft spot for Oyinlola believed that since he was not able to make it as chairman because of the political development that produced the South to North swap, it was only better to have allowed the former Osun governor to have the position of deputy national chairman (South).

Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, who consistently fought for Arapaja, was accused of seeking to have his way all through without regard for compromise.

“The PDP governors, led by the Chairman of their forum and governor of Sokoto, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, did not hide their desires to be in total control. So, they deployed their energy and resources in support of any candidate preferred by one of their own,” a source said.

Arapaja, in a statement, yesterday, said that politicking was over in the party and it was time to rescue Nigeria. He urged members to set aside all differences and work wholeheartedly for the party.

Reacting to his defeat, Oyinlola said he has congratulated the newly elected executives of the party. In a statement, he disclosed that he had sent a private message to Arapaja congratulating him on his victory and wishing him a successful tenure, which he (Arapaja) acknowledged.

HOWEVER, the inauguration of the Ayu-led 21-member National Working Committee (NWC) has become the subject matter of another round of political deliberations and horse-trading between some party leaders and the serving Yemi Akinwonmi-led NWC.

Constitutionally, the new officers will not be inaugurated until the present NWC conclude its tenure on December 9, 2021; but the Ayu-led NWC may be inaugurated earlier than December 9, only if the serving NWC members resign.

It was learnt that the last option of the resignation of serving NWC members is gradually attracting the attention of PDP leaders.

Following the crisis that rocked the Uche Secondus-led NWC, the PDP had announced a special convention to elect a set of new national officers. This decision, however, did not go well with Secondus – the suspended National Chairman – who believes the conduct of the convention will abruptly end his tenure that is due to expire in December.

It emerged on Sunday that some leaders of the PDP have begun peaceful moves that could lead to voluntary resignation of all members of the Akinwonmi-led NWC to pave way for a quick inauguration of newly elected national officers. The Guardian learnt that some leaders believe waiting till December 9 might not be in the best interest of the party.

Earlier on Friday, the Chairman of the PDP National Convention Organising Committee, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa, disclosed that the tenure of the present NWC would continue till December 9. He said though the party wanted an early convention, it was not planning to truncate the tenure of the incumbent NWC members.

All prominent northern leaders of the party who have presidential ambition in 2023 took over the convention venue and completely turned it into a campaign rally.


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