IJAW elder statesman and former federal commissioner Chief Edwin Clark has asked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman Senator Iyorchia Ayu to resign his position immediately following the emergence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate.
Although not constitutional, the party chairman and its presidential candidate tend to be from different halves of the country. When Senator Ayu from Benue State was elected PDP chairman, it was assumed that the party’s presidential candidate would come from the south but over the weekend, Alhaji Abubakar from Adamawa State emerged as the flagbearer.
Chief Clarke said that with the outcome of Saturday’s primary election, it had become imperative for Senator Ayu to resign as he can no longer head the national working committee of the PDP. He also took a swipe at the action of Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State who stepped down for Atiku Abubakar at the venue of the convention, stressing that what he did was not only dishonourable but was also a serious electoral abnormality and a tragic betrayal of national patriotism for hidebound interests.
“I decided to issue this press release because of the worrying occurrences in our polity vis-a-vis the dappled party primaries being conducted, across the country, the reported outrageous financial inducements of delegates and the cynical dollarisation of the electoral process. These happenings give strong warnings of, more likely, deleterious outcomes of the 2023 general elections, mainly the presidential, and their aftermaths.
“Most disturbing is what happened at the special national convention of the PDP, in Abuja, on Saturday, May 28. I followed the live broadcasts of the proceedings, keenly, until about 12.30am on Sunday, May 29.
“I was alarmed by the outrageous and Machiavellian manner in which Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto State, was so apparently arranged to announce his withdrawal from the contest at the last minute and how his speech changed the mood of the event. That was done in order to foist another northerner as the party’s flag bearer, having regard to the fact that Governor Aminu Tambuwal was the only aspirant from the whole of the northwest, which had about 192 delegates at the convention.
“Another Northern aspirant, Mr Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, a businessman from Borno State, had, earlier, also suddenly, withdrawn from the contest, citing its obscene monetization as his reason but we now know better. It is now widespread understanding that there were pressures mounted on Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, and former senate president, Senator Bukola Saraki, to also withdraw, while Tambuwal deliberately delayed his action till the last minute.
“One can now appreciate the reasons given by Mr Peter Obi for his withdrawal from the PDP, both as a member, and as an aspirant. I would think that what he did was, without doubt, in respect, or obedience, to the position of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum.
“Unfortunately, some aspirants from the South believed that, with the resources and facilities at their disposal, their elders no longer matter and disregarded, with impunity, the patriotic advice on the need to be steadfast on the position of the zoning of the presidency to the south. They never minded that what we have been advocating was in their interest and they proved themselves to be selfish and arrogant, and thought they could win on their own steam.
“Even much worse, in the extreme, was the action of the national chairman of the PDP, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, in his open visit to Governor Tambuwal to congratulate and hail him, in his words, as the hero of the convention. This clearly reveals his partiality and predilection in the processes leading to the baffling conclusion of the PDP presidential primary,” Chief Clarke said.
He added that Senator Ayu has failed to realise that what they were fighting for affects all minorities in Nigeria. According to Chief Clarke, the southern Nigeria relationship with the Middle Belt is well established, dating back to the First Republic, during the period of Dr Joseph Tarka from today’s Benue State, a founding member of the then, United Middle Belt Congress and the strong alliance with Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group.
Chief Clarke said: “The relationship subsisted during the Second Republic, when the minorities of the south and the minorities of the north combined to fight for a common course. The inclusion, and full participation of all minorities in the politics and governance of the country, of which I was the leader.
“Senator Iyorchia Ayu’s appalling, thoughtless and unpatriotic public conduct bears grave negative consequences. He should, therefore, no longer consider himself fit and proper to retain his position as the national chairman of the PDP and should resign now.”