Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Southwest has insisted that its National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, must step down to pave way for southern Nigeria to be included in the top hierarchy of the party.
The request was tabled before the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who were at the Theophilus Ogunlesi Hall, University College Hospital (UCH), in Ibadan, Oyo State, yesterday, for an interactive session with party stakeholders from the Southwest.
Governor Seyi Makinde, who tabled the request on behalf of the stakeholders said the combination of Atiku and Okowa in the presidency offered the nation men with capacities to take it from the present state of hopelessness to prosperity.
The major opposition party has been immersed in crisis following the emergence of Atiku as presidential candidate and selection of Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa as running mate. The crisis has also not been helped by the refusal of Ayu, who hails from the north as Atiku, to vacate the chairmanship post for a southerner to create a balance in the party leadership.
Makinde, however, said it was important to resolve the leadership crisis so that the PDP could approach the 2023 presidential poll as a united front.
The Oyo State governor, said the internal wrangling stired by some concerned faithful in the party was geared toward putting things straight so that the party could approach next year’s general elections with a united front.
“We must practice what be preach. If we want to unify Nigeria, we must unify PDP first. If we want a government of national unity, the faces in PDP must reflect national unity. If you want to restructure Nigeria, we must have the willingness to do what is right; to bring inclusivity into PDP. Do we have the capacity, do we have the candidate with the capacity? The answer is a resounding Yes.
“So, the message from the Southwest region is that there are few things that you can do for us post-election. Once the election is won, there are things we wish you can do for us. But before the election, the Southwest PDP, wants a situation where your message to Nigerians can resonate…
“So, your excellency sir, the Southwest PDP is asking that the National Working Committee of PDP should be restructured, such that what you have in the face of Nigeria right now that our presidential candidate is from Northeast, the PDP National Chairman is from the Northcentral…But we must resolve the issue of what we have in the face of Nigeria, by asking the National Chairman, to step down so that the PDP in the Southern part of the country will feel included in the top hierarchy of PDP.”
In his address, Atiku said the message from the Southwest PDP was achievable, adding that every step that should be taken in the party for the National Chairman, to step down, should be in accordance with the party’s constitution, conventions, rules, regulations and practice.
“We cannot do anything outside our constitution, except it is amended. We cannot do anything unless the laws are amended. Ayu must go through our constitution, rules, regulations, and our practice; otherwise, we cannot give the kind of leadership Nigerians want.”
Okowa, in his address, said Nigeria is sick and needs a medication to be healed. He said Atiku was the proper medication capable of curing the country from poverty, division that is threatening its corporate existence, insecurity and other socio-economic challenges.
Ayu, represented by the Deputy National Chairman (North) of the party, Umar Damagum, urged the Southwest PDP to ensure electoral victory of PDP during the 2023 general elections. He said the party has dynamic rewards system and would ensure that dividends of democracy is delivered to all parts of the country.
Chairman, PDP Governors Forum, Aminu Tambuwal, described Nigeria as a plural society, where Muslim-Muslim and Christian-Christian tickets cannot work, saying those flying the cards have failed.
He expressed the PDP would reclaim the whole of Southwest starting from Lagos and Ogun states.
Present at the meeting were former governors Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Olusegun Mimiko and Ayodele Fayose of Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states respectively; Osun State governor-elect, Ademola Adeleke; former deputy governor of Ekiti State, Abiodun Olujinmi, among others.