Highs, lows of PDP under Ayu

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was at its lowest when Senator Iyorchia Ayu-led incumbent National Working Committee (NWC) assumed office a year ago. ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU takes a look at how the party has fared in the last 12 months under Ayu’s leadership.

PDP was battling with an internal crisis under the former National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus-led NWC.

Members were leaving the party in droves and its structure was divided into the pro and anti-Secondus group; that was those who wanted the NWC to go before the end of its tenure and those who want them to serve out their tenure.

However, after lots of drama, and multiple contradictory court orders, Secondus was ousted in August 2021 and the then Deputy National Vice Chairman of PDP, Elder Yomi Akinwonmi, was sworn in as the acting national vice chairman of the party.

It was amidst the crisis, mixed feelings, hopes, and huge expectations that the former President of the Senate, Iyorchia Ayu, and the 21-man NWC was elected on October 31, 2021 but assumed office on December 10, 2021.

In his acceptance speech as PDP national chairman Ayu promised to unite and reposition the party towards emerging victorious in the 2023 general elections.

He said he would return the party to the people, stating, “Our task at this auspicious moment is to return the party to the people. But to do that, the party needs to be reinvigorated, reinvented, and repositioned.

“We are not unmindful of our missed steps and actions in the past, but we have learned our lessons, both in government and in opposition. Today, we stand tall, and with a firm resolve to rebuild our great party and rescue our nation.”

Promises fulfilled?

Upon assumption of office Ayu had made many promises most of which have remained unfulfilled to date.

In a subtle reference to probing the previous administration Ayu said: “By the time we come to the office, accountability will remain our watchword and I want to assure all of you that we will run the PDP administration as transparently as possible.

“The outgoing NWC has set up different committees to look into different areas. We shall take up all the reports, review them, look at the facts and then attend to each issue according to the facts available to us.

“I want to assure you that we shall try to clean our house, no matter who is going to be affected. We shall try to clean our house following due process and that due process also includes exhausting all internal conflict-resolving mechanisms before we bring in any external intervention when we cannot resolve the issues,” he added.

Ayu had also visited the abandoned N16 billion 11-storey PDP secretariat project and promised to complete it.

At the site of the abandoned edifice, the PDP national chairman said, “Every option will be considered. It is too premature for me to say categorically that this is exactly what we will do, but we will consider every possible option to make sure that this building is completed and is used to generate revenue for the party and provide sufficient offices for the party.”

Also, when there was a series of allegations against him, especially when the Rivers state Governor, Nyesom Wike, accused him of receiving N1 billion bribe from an aspirant in Lagos and collecting N100 million twice to carry out a project in Peoples Democratic Institute (PDI) he said, “The party never took any loan from anybody. Any money advanced to the party was declared before the NWC and handed over to the National Treasurer. All our accounts are up to date and we promised to publish the accounts at the end of the year.”

This is yet to be done, just Ayu hasn’t been able to create alternative source for funding the party like he promised, review the previous records, and there has be no work at the abandoned secretariat site 12 months after.

Despite continued accusation of financial misconduct the administration has not released a single sheet in the name of statement of account.

In the same vein, Ayu responsible to G5 agitation and division in PDP is perceived as leaving more to be desired.

A party source, who didn’t not want his name in print, told our correspondents that Ayu’s one year in office can be summarised as: “12 months of crisis on all fronts.”

The high-ranking member of the PDP, who is also a member of the Board of Trustee (BoT) further said, “Ayu was elected to reconcile party members, unite the party and coordinate party affairs to win elections but in the last 1 year, Ayu has divided the party more than he met it.

“The NWC he is leading is divided, into Governors of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike; Oyo state, Seyi Makinde; Benue state, Samuel Ortom; Abia state, Okezie Ikpeazu; Enugu state, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; (the G5); Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed and uncountable critical stakeholders of the party are no longer with the party or its Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar. They are partially out of the party.

“This is because of the way the Ayu-led NWC managed the Pre-PDP National Convention (presidential primaries) and post-PDP National Convention. He not only caused the crisis, but he also failed to bring the situation under check and control.

“The action and inaction of Ayu’s led NWC have sharply divided our state chapters too. PDP chapters in Kano, Lagos, Imo, Ogun, Ebonyi, Edo, Delta, Ekiti, and Taraba states are in deep crises without any reconciliatory efforts from the national headquarter.

“So, for me and many party members Ayu’s one year at the helms of affairs is 12 months of crisis on all fronts. If allowed to continue this may affect the chances of PDP in next year’s election.”

The highs of Ayu-led NWC

While the PDP national chairman may not have fulfilled his campaign promises, there are still positives witnessed under the Ayu-led NWC.

Most significant is the fact that against all odds, the party defeated the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun state.

Though a few analysts attributed the party’s victory in the Osun governorship election, which held in June, to the popularity of Governor Ademola Adeleke, others believe the Ayu-led NWC deserved some accolades for supervising a primary that produced a popular candidate.

Also, in less than one year, Ayu had carried out a series of renovations giving facelift to the PDP National Headquarters, Wadata Plaza, in Zone 5, Wuse, Abuja.

After years of abandonment, the Ayu-led NWC also relocated the Peoples Democratic Institute (PDI) to a befitting apartment in the Asokoro area of Abuja.

The institute was established by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in 2000, to serve as the party’s intellectual base, where policy directions are fashioned out for good governance and national development.

For political analyst, Aminu Mohammed, who is very familiar with issues around the party, the Ayu-led NWC has not done enough in the last one year to deserve praise.

Mohammed in a phone interview with Blueprint Weekend said, “One year under Ayu’s leadership, like every other political parties the PDP has been confronted with many challenges. However, the question is: how have they managed their internal rancour?

“Notable among the impact of the crisis is the Wike’s camp that has tactically pulled out of the PDP Presidential campaign. Obviously, the party is divided into the pro-Wike and pro-Atiku/Ayu’s camp.

“Overall, it is the national chairman that has failed to manage the issues well though PDP under this current NWC won some bye-elections in some parts of the country and won the Osun state governorship election, the Ayu-led NWC has not done enough to deserve praise. His praise and condemnation will come if PDP loses or win the 2023 election.”

PDP to rescue, rebuild Nigeria – Ologunagba

Speaking on the Ayu-led administration, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said the party was on the right course to rescue and rebuild Nigeria from APC’s misrule.

Ologunagba said, “Our party is united under the leadership of Senator Iyorchia Ayu. And you can see Nigerians are also rallying around our Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar to rescue and rebuild the country.”

Responding to questions on states where there were crises, he said: “Reconciliation is ongoing.”