•Blasts APC as ‘complete indisciplined alliance’
•Says the whole North in disarray
By Nnamdi Ojiego
Dr Iyorchia Ayu recently emerged as the consensus candidate of the North for the position of National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, ahead of the party’s convention next week.
In this interview, the former Senate President says Nigerians will support a rejuvenated PDP to unite Nigeria, restore hope and expand the economy.
He describes the All Progressives Congress, APC, the ruling party at the federal level, as a complete indisciplined alliance that has failed Nigerians. Excerpts:
Does your adoption as the consensus PDP candidate of the North mean that we should be looking forward to a mere coronation on the 30th and 31st of October when the party holds its National Convention?
Well, it’s not a coronation because we don’t run chieftaincy title in the party; therefore, we don’t coronate in the party. We are still going to follow the democratic process. I’m only a consensus of the North, so the rest of the country has to accept me and the law provides that we go to the convention and do the voting.
Everybody who goes to the convention has to vote yes or no and it is my prayer that they vote yes. It is only then that I can become the elected Chairman of the party. We are a very democratic party and we respect the rule of law, so we have to follow due process.
If PDP should pick its presidential candidate from the North, will you give up your position to ensure the geopolitical balancing in the party?
Luckily, party positions are not tied to the position of executive and legislative positions. However, I’m a very democratic person and I will do everything to promote the interest and image of my party. If the PDP says I should step down after a presidential candidate emerges and happens to be from the North, I will be very glad to do so because what we want is to take over the government and run the government in the interest of Nigerians. So, I’ll sacrifice anything to ensure that my party wins.
What is your reconciliation agenda for PDP considering how divided the party has been in recent times?
The party is not as divided as some people perceive it. There were a few difficulties in the party but we the party elders and leaders were able to intervene and resolve the little differences that existed among members of the party. As for reconciliation, the process has been on. We had a committee on reconciliation led by a former Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki.
They have submitted their report and the party as a whole is looking at the report. I think if elected the Chairman of the party because I’m not yet the chairman, we still have a Chairman, Uche Secondus and I’m still a nominee of the North, I will build on all the reconciliation efforts and processes that have already taken place in the party. I believe working together with other party members will be very easy to reconcile the party.
Are you going to extend an olive branch to the suspended PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus?
Let me correct you a little bit. Uche Secondus is not suspended. He’s still the Chairman of the party. He’s still in office and he is going to be in office until a Chairman is elected. Therefore, when a new Chairman is elected, we believe he will be a very vital member of the party.
He’s been with the party right from the beginning. At the state level, he rose to become the state Chairman of the party in his state.
He worked at the national headquarters of the party as a key player and, ultimately, he rose to become the Chairman of the party and he contributed enormously to building the party, helping us to win several seats and several states. So like every other Chairman, he’s going to be an extremely important member of the party and I will be very happy and glad to work with him.
The unity of PDP in the North which eventually threw up your candidacy is being commended. What can the nation learn from such an action?
What the nation can learn from the northern part of the country is very simple. Nigeria is not as divided as the APC government has made us believe. Whether in the North or in the South, the current APC government has completely divided this country. Families are divided, communities are divided, and states are divided into different fractions. People are being killed left, right and centre. Nigerians have lost hope.
What has happened in the North is to demonstrate to all Nigerians that Nigerians as a people can be united if you are fair, if you are just, if you try to be equitable and if you try to concentrate on the things that worry Nigerians.
I believe that we have realized that we have to concentrate on those issues. So the unity that has been demonstrated today in the North irrespective of religion, ethnicity, state or whatever cultural organization that you belong to, is to demonstrate that PDP has the capacity to unite the country as we have done in the past. Because we did it before, we are only going back to the origins.
We want to give hope to Nigerians, to show them that a PDP government will unite everybody. I’m appealing to every Nigerian, particularly young people who have lost hope that PDP will restore hope to the hopeless.
We will reunite this country and bring about serious development and expand the economy and incorporate everybody into what we are doing. Nobody will feel alienated and want to leave the country. I’m a proud Nigerian and want the next generation to be proud to be Nigerians.
You will be the third PDP National Chairman from Benue State and the sixth from the north-central region since the inception of the party. Why are Benue and the north-central having such a high turnover of PDP Chairman?
It’s very simple. One, the north-central area, particularly Benue where I come from, has a large concentration of quality manpower. Secondly, we believe strongly in democracy.
The zone is heavily democratic, we believe in democracy, we believe in the right thing and have contributed enormously to the unity of the country and not only in democratic times, even at a very difficult time in the history of this country, it’s somebody from the north-central, Yakubu Gowon, who was put forward by the members of the armed forces and everybody said it was free, fair and just and it helped to unite this country.
In the second republic, our father, J.S Tarka, played a key role.
The north-central has always played important role in the development or in holding this country together. Even in the formation of the party, the north-central played a very key role led by our father, Chief Solomon Lar, who led us very successfully and, later, we had other PDP chairmen.
Other zones too have had PDP Chairman not that it is exclusive to the north-central but it so happened that we play a key role in the democratic process and we will continue to do that.
We hope that the north-central will also, along the line, be appreciated for what we do for this country. We are like glue for the whole of Nigeria.
What is your take on the yearning of the people from the South to produce the candidate of PDP?
It’s only the PDP that has produced a President in the South. This is not the first time the South has yearned to be President. When we formed the party in 1998, the North met and unanimously decided that the presidency should go to the South and I was a key player in that decision. We not only gave the presidency to the South but I was selected to be the director-general of Obasanjo’s first campaign in 1998/1999 and we did it successfully.
Even when his own zone didn’t vote for him, the North voted for him heavily. So, we gave the North presidency in 2007 and, ultimately, when President Yar’Adua died, again, it was the North who came up with the Doctrine of Necessity, rallied people around and make sure that former President Jonathan finished the two years of Umaru Yar’Adua and ultimately elected him for another four years.
I believe that the unnecessary or artificial division between North and South if you allow democratic forces to take their course, very soon, Nigerians will not mind where a President comes from. But it is proper that people should agitate, rally and produces suitable candidates, canvass for votes.