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Ayu may cost PDP another election loss in 2023, Bode George warns

Former Deputy National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Bode George, has said that the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, needs the votes of millions of Southerners, warning that keeping Dr Iyorcha Ayu as the party’s National Chairman at this time was a high price to pay and a gamble that most likely would cost the PDP another election loss in 2023 General Elections.

George gave the warning, on Thursday, at a press conference, which he addressed at his Ikoyi office, maintaining that Ayu must resign from office as he earlier promised before the emergence of Atiku as PDP presidential candidate at the party’s convention held in Abuja, some months ago.

This was just as the politician noted that PDP was promising every tribe would have a say in government but said this would be difficult to prove to Nigerians with the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku and the PDP National Chairman, Ayu, coming from the same North.

“My advice to HE, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is that he needs the votes of the millions of Southerners and that leaving Dr Ayu to remain the National Chairman of the party at this time is a high price to pay and a gamble that most likely will cost the PDP another election loss at the next polls.

“We must, therefore, objectively defend the interest of our party. What can be greater than peace? It is when our party is united, peaceful, focused and organised that we can take the country back from the All Progressives Congress (APC),” he said.

“Dr Ayu promised openly, before the presidential primary in May, to resign, if the presidential candidate emerges from the North. So, why has he refused to honour his words? 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 fulfil a simple promise? Our National Chairman made a pledge and in such a short time he has broken the pledge,” he added.

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George, while giving the warning at the briefing attended by former Lagos State deputy governor, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor- Akerele, among other party chieftains, said he was compelled to address what he described as a “‘clear and present danger’ that might thwart this window of opportunity afforded the PDP.”

According to him, PDP, with the issue over the chairmanship seat, among others, is at the precipice of a dangerous looming crisis, if not urgently addressed, even as he declared that party unity and inclusiveness of all members were ingredients to a viable strategy for election victory.

George, who described himself as a committed PDP leader, however, accused some party leaders of being directly or indirectly, responsible for the present crisis in the fold “because of their flawed personal interests, which are targeted at disrupting the unity of our great party.”

“Our party, PDP, is at the precipice of a dangerous looming 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.”

“Pitiably, some of our leaders are, directly or indirectly, responsible for the present crisis in the party because of their flawed personal interests, which are targeted at disrupting the unity of our great party,” he said.

“I want our party members to know that as one of the party fathers and as a former Deputy National Chairman of our party, it is not in my character to belittle the interest of our party but when issues arise that may dent the progress of our party one has to speak out and speak loud enough to arrest the attention of our people.

“Aside from the fact that I retired as a Navy General with postings all over this country, I am nationalistic by blood, orientation and global view. As a tireless defender of democracy; I have always fought for equity and justice for all with respect to the constitution of this nation and our party. I have never left our party, no matter the situation that besets me.

“In addition, I have no iota of tribalism in my blood, but will continue to fight tirelessly to ensure inclusiveness for all Nigerians in the political process of this country and especially in this party where some of us have suffered great injustice for the fight of equity and justice for all.

“While I reiterate my solidarity to the tenets of our party constitution, I will not remain passive when the collective unity of this party is fragmented. How we collectively address the issues at stake will be a major determinant of the fate of this party at the next general elections,” he added.

Chief George, who is also Atona Oodua of the Source, further warned party leaders not to pander towards ethnic affiliation as, according to him, PDP is the only true national party, declaring that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is just a mere congregation of strange bedfellows.

Besides, he called on members to be ready to seize this available opportunity to move the country forward, saying they should not allow any sentiment, whether ethnic or religious to divide them.

“Unfortunately, with what we are presently witnessing, our party may lose the next presidential election if we continue to disregard or fail to address the feeling and grievances of ‘alienation’ being presently experienced by the entire Southern population of this great country. If this issue is dismissed, we cannot expect votes from them.

“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, with equity, fairness and justice being the pedestal for any political decision taken in this party; and ensuring broad-mindedness to accommodate the concerns of all zones in this country PDP becomes vulnerable to disaster in the 2023 elections. Unless we are united, with equity, fairness and justice, our party may be fragmented before 2023,” he further warned.

Speaking further, George said truth must be told that the present power arrangement was not comparable to what existed during the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo regime, pointing out that for the sake of inclusiveness, oneness and togetherness, it does not make any political sense for the presidential candidate and the national chairman of the party to come from the same zone.

According to the PDP chieftain, it amounted to an affront, impunity, and an insult to the electorate and party members from the South, even as cited that party members from the Southern part of the country were now asking the following questions patently whether PDP had thrown its integrity to the dogs and how would they as “Southern PDP leaders convince their electorate to vote for our candidate when there is no substantial National position in the Southwest?”

George, while noting that the largest vote in the 2023 General Elections would come from Lagos, which he said was more than seven million, wondered if PDP wanted to do away with those huge votes and whether taking such a step would make any political sense.

This was just as he said that at his age, he could not be canvassing for any party position but must be bold enough, to tell the truth to power as one of the fathers of PDP.

“At my age, I cannot be canvassing for any party position but as one of the fathers of PDP, we must be bold enough, to tell the truth to power.

“The tribal mistrust in the land is unprecedented. Nigerians are waiting for us to vote APC out of Aso Rock but now, probably due to selfish interests or ethnic attraction, some of our friends are becoming less and less patriotic in their decisions.

“Our presidential candidate in the person of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has emerged, so what is wrong if Dr Iyorchia Ayu steps aside honourably? Is our party an ethnic business enterprise or a private organisation?” George queried

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that there is a crisis ahead. The need to revisit this decision as quickly as possible is urgent.

“The general public perception, today, is like we are encouraging a Northern Peoples Democratic Party (NPDP) and a Southern Peoples Democratic Party (SPDP) instead of the undivided and united National PDP.

“I want to say that the vote of confidence supposedly passed on Dr Ayu and the NWC at the last party National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting cannot hold sway because most of our Southern members of NEC were absent from the meeting.

“What Dr Ayu has succeeded in doing by refusing to step down is simply telling PDP members from the South that they are of no importance and that he is not ready to build a united and progressive party,” he stated.

Speaking further, George said Nigerians would be happy and eager to elect PDP into power next year “when they see that our national offices are distributed equitably, but pointed out that should this issue not be addressed urgently, “it means some members of our party are working for the opposition or against the interest of our party.”

Sounding further last warning, the politician said if PDP collapses today, Nigeria may also collapse as describing the party as the engine room of Nigeria.

“If PDP collapses today, Nigeria may also collapse because this party is the engine room of our country. Obviously, the voice of the people is the voice of God and we should not be pedestrian in our approach to this issue. Let us think of the corporate future of this country and our party.

“The PDP is a good vehicle to drive this country to a safe, secure, democratic, prosperous and viable destination. But how will the vehicle get to the desired destination when some people are busy removing its tyres, battery and engines?

“We should avoid a situation in which some members will move out of the party or mobilise Nigerians to vote for another candidate.

“Every human being created by God must be given his or her due regard. In politics, we must love our neighbours like ourselves by ensuring that everybody is equitably recognised and rewarded.
Tribal and religious sentiments will never help us. These were the ingredients that caused the civil war.

What Southwesterners in our party are asking for is very simple: we don’t want the position of Director-General of the Presidential Campaign, rather, we want the office of the National Chairman, this we have made very clear,” he further stated.

“In a situation like this, people must not be fixated but approachable and dependable. We must give the Southwest a sense of belonging, and a sense of inclusiveness by producing the National Chairman before the commencement of the national campaign.

“It is not justifiably equitable to have a brother from the North leading the campaign for a Northern presidential candidate. Where then are justice, equity, fair play and inclusiveness?

“This is an appeal am requesting our party leaders to consider so that we will be at ease to convince the people from the Southwest to support our party. This tribal mistrust was not created by our party but by the ruling party, the APC. We must learn to flow with the political tide and not against it.

“If Dr Ayu resigns today, heavens will not fall. In fact, millions of PDP members will rejoice and prepare, as War Generals, to ensure the victory of our party in 2023.

“Our party must do the needful now. Anything else will be suicidal.

“Let me leave you with this trustworthy saying: ‘Life looks better when we have something to look forward to,” he concluded.

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