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Following the emergence of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate ahead of the 2023 elections, the former Federal Information Commissioner and South-South leader, Chief Edwin Clark, has called on the National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, to urgently resign from his post.
In a statement he personally signed yesterday, Clark, who is also the head of the Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) and the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), said that with the outcome of the primary elections in Saturday at Moshood Abiola Stadium, it became imperative for Ayu to step down as he can no longer lead the PDP’s National Working Committee (NWC).
The former statesman, who criticized the action of Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State where he quit for Atiku Abubakar at the convention venue, stressed that what he did was not only dishonorable, but also a serious electoral anomaly and a tragic betrayal of national patriotism for hidden interests.
He argued that Tambuwal, having formally addressed the delegates, as other aspirants did within the time limit, would not have been allowed to speak a second time, when the delegates were already preparing to vote. .
He said allowing Tambuwal to speak again was a clear violation and abuse of the electoral process, and he should not have been allowed to perform.
Clark, however, praised the efforts of the Convention Committee chaired by former Senate President Senator David Mark and his aides, particularly Bayelsa State Governor Senator Douye Diri.
Clark’s statement reads: “I have decided to issue this press release because of the disturbing events in our policy vis-à-vis the ongoing Spotted Party primaries across the country; the outrageous financial incentives reported to delegates and the cynical dollarization of the electoral process. These events give serious warnings about, more likely, the deleterious results of the general elections of 2023, mainly the presidential one, and their consequences.
“Most disturbing is what happened at the Special National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Abuja on Saturday 28th May 2022. I followed the live broadcasts of the proceedings carefully until around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, the 29th. I was very impressed with the efforts of the Convention Committee, which was headed by former Senate President Senator David Mark and his aides, in particular the Governor of the State of Bayelsa, Senator Douye Diri.
“But, unfortunately, the election result leaves a lot to be desired; it was very unfair and rather unhealthy. This will certainly have serious and harmful consequences for the future unity of the country.
“I was alarmed by the outrageous and Machiavellian manner in which AlhajiAminu Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto State, was apparently ‘arranged’ to announce his withdrawal from the contest, at the last minute; his speech changed the mood of the event. This was done in order to impose another northerner as party standard bearer; considering that Governor Aminu Tambuwal was the only contender in the entire North West, which had around 192 delegates to the convention.
“What Tambuwal did was not only dishonorable but also a grave electoral anomaly and a tragic betrayal of national patriotism for hidden interests.
“Another aspirant from the North, Mr. Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, a businessman from Borno State, had earlier, also suddenly, withdrawn from the contest, citing his obscene monetization as the reason; but now we know better. It is now widely believed that Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed and former Senate Speaker Senator BukolaSaraki were pressured to step down as well, while Tambuwal deliberately delayed his action until the last minute. In doing so, improperly swept his North West votes in favor of AtikuAbubakar.
“We can now appreciate the reasons given by Mr. Peter Obi for his withdrawal from the PDP, both as a member and as an aspirant, a few days before the party’s primary. And I think what he did was, without a doubt, in respect, or obedience, to the position of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum.
“Unfortunately, some Southern aspirants believed that with the resources and facilities available to them, their elders no longer mattered, and ignored, with impunity, patriotic advice on the need to be firm on the position of the zoning the Presidency to the south. They never cared that what we were advocating was in their interests. They were selfish and arrogant, and thought they could win on their own. They failed; I can only hope that they have now learned their lessons.
“Even worse, in the extreme, was the action of the National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Iyorchia Ayu, during his public visit to Governor Tambuwal to congratulate and greet him, in his own words, as ‘The hero of the Convention’. This clearly reveals his bias and predilection in the processes leading to the disconcerting conclusion of the PDP presidential primary. His undignified and parochial conduct, to please his directors in the North, is not only a great disgrace to the position he holds, but also a sad display of obscene submission to the political subjugation of an ethnic group, in a country as diverse as Nigeria.
“We had previously suspected that he favored a candidate from the North, when on the day of his inauguration as national president last year he unnecessarily declared during his speech that he would resign if a Nordiste was running as a presidential candidate.
“Senator Ayu failed to realize that what we are fighting for affects all minorities in Nigeria. Southern Nigeria’s relationship with the Middle Belt is well established, dating back to the First Republic, at the time of Dr JS Tarka, present-day Benue State, a founding member of the former United Middle Belt Congress, and the strong alliance with Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group. The relationship continued through the Second Republic, when minorities in the South and minorities in the North joined together 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.
“The appalling, reckless and unpatriotic public conduct of Senator IyorchiaAyu has serious negative consequences. He should therefore no longer consider himself fit and suitable to retain his position as the National President of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and should resign now.
He had made this commitment when accepting his election and, therefore, would have to keep his promise to resign if a northerner left the party.