Former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Bode George has asked the party’s National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu to step down from his position to resolve the impasse occasioned by calls for his resignation.
He said such move would save the party from a ‘clear and present danger’ that might thwart the window of opportunity afforded it to return to power next year.
Addressing journalists and party faithful in Lagos, George said his call was predicated on the fact that it makes no political sense for the presidential candidate and the National Chairman to come from the same zone, if equity, fairness and justice, which had always been the pedestal for political decisions in the party, are considered.
He declared that maintaining the status quo “will be an affront, an impunity, and an insult to the electorate and party members from the South.”
Also speaking at the event, former Lagos State deputy governor, Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele called on Ayu to resign as National Chairman, saying that remaining in office would be an insult to party members in the South.
Former presidential aspirant and governor of River State, Nyesom Wike and his camp have sustained the call for Ayu’s resignation, following Atiku Abubakar’s emergence as the party’s presidential candidate, citing Ayu’s pledge to do so ahead of the convention.
George said: “With two weeks to the commencement of campaign season that we believe will usher in a PDP government into Aso Rock in 2023, unfortunately, our party is at the precipice of a dangerous crisis, if pending critical issues are not urgently addressed.
“Party unity and inclusiveness of all members are ingredients to a viable strategy for our election victory.
“Now, we have a situation in which some elders are saying, it does not matter. Can we go into the election with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, from the same zone, leading our national campaign?
“I want our members to know that as one of the party fathers and as a former Deputy National Chairman, it is not in my character to belittle the interest of our party, but when issues arise that may dent progress of our party, one has to speak out.”
While observing that some party leaders were directly or indirectly responsible for the present crisis because of their personal interests, the former Ondo State military administrator said he would not remain passive when the collective unity of the party is fragmented.
He stressed the need for inclusiveness for all Nigerians in the political process and especially in PDP. George said: “As leaders of the party, we must not pander towards ethnic affiliation because PDP is the only true national party. The APC is just a mere congregation of strange bedfellows.
“Members of PDP must be ready to seize this opportunity to move the country forward. This cannot be achieved when party leaders insist on peddling ugly rumours and throwing mud at each other.”
He warned that such divisions might cause the party to lose the presidential election, if it fails to address the feeling and grievances of ‘alienation’ being presently experienced by the entire Southern population of the country.
According to him, if the issue is dismissed, the party shouldn’t expect votes from the south.
“We should be seen to pursue noble causes and not ethnic agenda. Ethnic groups in this country are at the precipice of collapse. It has never been this bad historically and Nigerians are waiting for us to change the situation of things for the better.
“Until this party returns to the founding fathers’ principles of unity, and ensuring broad-mindedness to accommodate the concerns of all zones, PDP will be in 2023 elections,” he said.
George recalled that Dr. Ayu said pointedly that if the presidential candidate emerges from the North, he would resign for a new national chairman to emerge from another zone before the presidential campaign starts.
He expressed worry as to why he has refused to honour his words, asking, “Why is he reneging? What is driving his reluctance not to resign?
“We are promising Nigerians that when we get to government, every tribe will have a say in government but now, how do we want Nigerians to trust us when we cannot fulfill a simple promise?
“Our national chairman made a pledge and in such a short time he has broken the pledge.”
As the presidential campaign kicks off late September, George wondered how Southern PDP leaders would convince their electorate to vote for Atiku when there is no substantial national position in the Southwest.
“How can we go into the election season with this type of division and expect to win the February 25 presidential election? Unless we are united, unless we have fairness, equity and justice in our system, the party and the country are heading nowhere.
“Peradventure, let us reverse the scenario and think of these consequences. What do you think will happen if Atiku and Ayu come from the South? How do you think our Northern brothers will feel and handle the situation? Our party must do the needful now. Anything else will be suicidal,” he declared.