•Says Ayu’s resignation necessary to restore peace, re-position party
•Party will be a hard sell if we don’t act fast
By John Alechenu, Abuja
A member of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Bode George, has said, the demand for the resignation of the party’s National Chairman, Sen. Iyorchia Ayu, was based purely on moral grounds and the need for balancing, equity, fairness, and inclusivity.
George, who is also a former Deputy National Chairman (South) of the party said this in an interview on the Morning Show, on Arise Television, monitored in Abuja, on Friday.
He noted that as things stood, it would be difficult for him and other party leaders in the South West to convince people in the zone to vote for the party based on the fact that two out of the six key positions are in the north.
George said the task before South Westerners in the PDP was made herculean with the mere fact that while they had nothing in terms of party positions to show, they will be fighting a battle to win the hearts and minds of the people against the All Progressives Congress which has a son of the soil, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, as Presidential candidate.
According to him, the founding fathers of the PDP decided to subdivide the nation into six geo-political zones to promote inclusivity.
He said, “There are also six top positions in this country. The positions are the Presidency, the Vice Presidency, the Senate Presidency, the Speakership the Secretary to the Government of the federation and the National Chairman of the party so that every zone will go home with one of these top positions. In other words, you have removed friction, the anger in people that are we mare onlookers in the management of our country?
“ And that after 8 years, all these positions in the north will go south and those in the south will go to the north.
“If you look at it, number one is the presidency and number six is the chairman of the party. So, number one and number six cannot come from the same zone for balancing.’’
He further said, “We are not asking that Ayu should be zoned out or forced to resign. In the sense of oneness, in the sense of inclusivity, he should throw in the towel and let us balance the top positions. Because we are going to campaign in my zone and we want our party to win.
“If it was not going to affect the party, I won’t bother but how do I go on the rostrum in the South West and tell the people that we are ready and you must vote for our own candidate?
“ We must realize that the main opposition party- the APC has its own candidate from the South West, how do I face them? They have the President ticket, what do we have?”
The former Ondo State military governor wondered how Northern members of the PDP would feel if the roles were reversed and the party’s National Chairman Presidential candidates were southerners.
He recalled that Ayu himself said he would step aside should a fellow northerner win the party’s presidential ticket to allow for balance.
In response to the declaration by the PDP Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, that asking Ayu to go at this point would be a breach of the party’s constitution, George dismissed it as a double standard.
He said, “Section 7(3) of our party Constitution states ‘We must adhere to zoning and rotation of elective offices and party offices…’ If we had stuck to rigidity to that there was no chance for Atiku to have emerged as a Presidential candidate after a northerner emerged chairman.
“So, when it suits you, you refer to the constitution, when it doesn’t suit you, you back away from the constitution.”
The PDP chieftain explained that the contest for the presidential ticket was thrown open based on appeals by most of the party members who argued that contestants had spent over six months spending money and travelling to sell themselves to party members because the party didn’t zone the ticket as was the case previously.
George noted that the announcement of the membership of the presidential campaign council was a pointer to the fact that the NWC was largely going into hibernation except for members who were co-opted into the council.
He equally said, “What do I tell the people? Will I say wait until after the election? No! It is the responsibility of our National Chairman to present our Presidential candidate at every campaign. So, what happens when they come to the south, the North will present to the north?
The elder statesman said it was laughable for people to suggest that he was speaking this way because he was sympathetic to the cause of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
He said, “There was no Wike when at the time I stood up at our meeting to review the report on zoning which allowed every zone to contest for the (Presidential) ticket.”
George said he has stayed in the party long enough to know the intent of its founding fathers.