Thursday, June 8, 2023


MAN IN THE NEWS: Unkept promise, convention gaffe — the beginning and end of Ayu as PDP chairman

MAN IN THE NEWS: Unkept promise, convention gaffe — the beginning and end of Ayu as PDP chairman
March 31
12:06 2023

A promise not kept, failure to leave the stage when the ovation was loudest, unguided political statements, war of political relevance — these, and other factors, are arguably the steps through which Iyorchia Ayu took his descent as the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria’s main opposition party. This probably will mark his final departure from the Nigerian political space.

Ayu was elected as national chairman of PDP on October 31, 2021. His emergence followed the removal of Uche Secondus, his predecessor, from office in August 2021, after a series of court orders were issued against him (Secondus).

Ayu voyaged the position through turbulent storms orchestrated by forces beyond his immediate control and some by his hubris.



Ayu and Tambuwal at the PDP convention

Trouble started for Ayu when he hailed Aminu Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto state, as the hero of the PDP presidential primary election of May 28, 2022.

Tambuwal, who had also been screened to contest the presidential ticket, announced his withdrawal from the race and asked his supporters to back former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.

Atiku would later clinch the party’s ticket after polling 371 votes.


“Thank you. You are the hero of the convention,” Ayu told Tambuwal as they shook hands.

This comment and gesture did not sit well with some members of the party, especially Nyesom Wike, Rivers governor, who also contested the election and was canvassing for power rotation to the south.

Wike came second at the convention with 237 votes.

Party members opposed to Ayu’s leadership believed he did not handle the internal strife properly and that by hailing Tambuwal as a “hero”, he contributed to the widespread disaffection.


Ayu reportedly rejected the recommendation of the national working committee (NWC) to lead a delegation to Rivers for fence-mending talks with Wike.


L-R: Makinde, Ikpeazu, Wike, and Ortom –G5 governors

Following the emergence of Atiku as the party’s flag bearer, some PDP members asked Ayu to resign his position as national chairman on grounds that both the party’s head and presidential candidate cannot be from the same region — both are northerners, from Benue and Adamawa respectively.

Wike and some governors in his group, who later formed the G5, insisted that Ayu’s resignation is a prerequisite for solving the crisis rocking the party.


The G5 governors are made up of Wike of Rivers state, Seyi Makinde of Oyo state, Samuel Ortom of Benue state, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state, and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.

In a counter to the demand for Ayu’s resignation, Atiku said Umar Damagum, deputy national chairman (north), would become the chairman according to the PDP constitution — meaning another person from the north would hold sway in the party.


The crisis festered.




In August 2022, Simon Imobo-Tswana, special adviser on media and communications to Ayu, said his principal had no plan to resign from his position.

Ayu had also described those calling for his resignation as “children”, insisting on holding on to his position which he said he was appointed to occupy for four years.


His stance was, however, contrary to the promise he made in October 2021, during the lead-up to the party’s convention.

In a chat with Arise TV at the time, Ayu pledged to step down if the party’s presidential candidate emerges from the north.

He added that he was willing to do everything to promote the interest and image of the party.

Ayu’s words: “If the PDP says I should step down after a presidential candidate emerges and happens to be in the north, I will be very glad to do so because what we want is to take over the government and run it in the interest of Nigerians. I’ll sacrifice anything to ensure that my party wins.”

Despite reminders from different corners of his promise, Ayu remained hell-bent on remaining party chairman.


Ayu raises the hands of Atiku Abubakar and Ifeanyi Okowa, presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the PDP in 2023

The crisis in the PDP worsened further after Atiku picked Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta state, as his running mate — overlooking Wike who was recommended by a panel comprising NWC members and governors.

Sidelined for the second time, Wike, together with the G5, powered his insistence on Ayu’s resignation, refusing to campaign for and support Atiku’s presidential bid.

Their refusal to champion the cause of the PDP is one of the factors that made the party to lose the presidential poll.


Iyorchia Ayu

Ayu may have tried to outrun his destiny but fate eventually caught up with him. In August 2022, Ayu said he was not bothered by the calls for his resignation, describing those behind the calls as “children”.

He argued that he was voted for a four-year tenure and had only spent 10 months at that time.

“I was voted as PDP chairman for a four-year tenure and I am yet to complete a year. Atiku’s victory doesn’t affect the chairman’s position. I won my election based on our party’s constitution,” he said.

“So, if you hear that they want to chase Ayu out as national chairman, don’t be worried. Nobody is going to sack me as national chairman of our party. I will leave the seat on a day that God permits.” 

Seven months after he made that statement, Ayu is gone.

On Sunday, the executive members of Igyorov ward, Gboko LGA of Benue state, passed a vote of no confidence on Ayu over alleged anti-party activities.

The party executives claimed that Ayu worked against the success of the PDP in his ward and did not vote in the March 18 governorship and the house of assembly election.

On March 27, a high court in Benue state granted an interim order restraining Ayu from parading himself as the national chairman of the PDP and a day later, the PDP NWC announced Damagum as the acting national chairman.

Adams Oshiomhole, ex-national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), did not survive his suspension by his ward executives in Edo state, neither did Secondus. Will Ayu’s case be any different?

Has God permitted it?


Nyesom Wike

Wike, the man who upset the game in PDP

Wike, who is one of the major financiers of the party, had boasted of removing Secondus as PDP chairman.

On Tuesday, he mocked Ayu’s removal: “I told him. You will go”.

In the final scheme of things, Wike and his group won against Ayu and “e dey sweet am”.


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