A former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olabode George, has insisted that a southern candidate must replace Iyorchia Ayu as the national chairman of the party before the beginning of the 2023 election campaigns scheduled for September 28, 2022.
He said Ayu, who is from the northern part of the country, could not continue to hold the position since the presidential candidate of the party is from the North.
George, who spoke at a press conference in Lagos on Thursday, said Ayu’s refusal to fulfil his promise meant that members of the party in the south were of no importance.
He said, “ Let me reiterate again that the will of the people must be respected and the six top offices in the country must be distributed equitably and fairly because PDP is not a private company. The office of the National Chairman must come to the South before we commence the presidential campaign if victory is to be secured in the next general election.
“In May this year, we elected our presidential candidate in the person of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, setting aside the principle of rotation as enshrined in the constitution of our party in the interest of peace and unity of our party. Today, we are in a situation in which our National Chairman is from the same zone as our presidential candidate.
“Some people are insisting that there is nothing wrong with this present arrangement. Some have argued that this happened during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, where the candidate and the national chairman were from the same zone.
Meanwhile, the founding Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Chief Olu Falae, and a former Liaison Officer to ex-President Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, on Thursday declared that there would be no rigging in the 2023 general elections.
They, therefore, called on politicians to move to the grassroots and campaign.
The elder statesmen stated these at the commissioning of the national secretariat of the SDP in Abuja.
Falae, 84, who spoke after cutting the tape of the new office, said when they decided to revive the SDP some people thought it was going to be impossible but they did it without litigation.
He said, “We have a good presidential candidate in the person of Adewole Adebayo who did not only show the knowledge of the law but history, anthropology, architecture and other fields.”
“The party may not have a governor today, may not be in Aso rock, but the SDP is getting there. Nigeria today is in crisis. You can’t move without being kidnapped. I have been kidnapped for four days in my own farm.
“I traveled to Lagos on foot as a young man without being kidnapped. But at 77, I was kidnapped. Controlling government is not controlling party. Ask the parties, what is their philosophy, they don’t know it. They don’t have a plan, that’s why things are getting worse.
“The SDP is the only party that can restructure and revive Nigeria. More people will leave the country if things are not put right. More doctors are leaving.
“Politics is about numbers. Bring people to the party and surprise the so-called party because no one will rig the election.
“We have a good chance to deliver Nigeria and help Nigeria from disaster. You have the change to deliver Nigeria.”
Also speaking, Yakassai, represented by the SDP gubernatorial candidate in Adamawa State, Dr Umar Ardo,
said the SDP should move to the grassroots and campaign adding that with the new electoral act 2022, no one will be able to rig the election.
He said the Electoral Act made it impossible for anyone to rig the election.
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“The 2022 Electoral Act is an opportunity for the SDP to make a mark as room for rigging and vote allocation have been tackled.
“What is put in the ballot box is what will be out and announced to the public. Don’t worry about not having governors. Go and talk to the grassroots because they are tired of APC and PDP, they are after alternatives” Yakasai said.
The presidential candidate of the SDP, Prince Adewole Adebayo said what SDP is bringing to Nigerians is just the white horse which signifies victory and prosperity.
He said, “Because poverty is ungodly and unnatural. If we don’t fight poverty, it will produce children which is insecurity.
We are back, 30 years later, to open this office for truth, justice and farewell to poverty.
“The SDP has the young person as the national chairman and I am telling Nigerians that the opportunity you have been looking for is here.
“We will go to all the 774 LGAs and wards and deliver victory to Nigerians where Nigerians will have sound medical care, security and education.”
The national chairman of SDP, Alhaji Shehu Musa Gabam, while delivering his goodwill message advised the party to go and conquer since it was established during his administration.
“I am happy because one of the parties established is still alive. Keep hope alive, you can navigate through and bring change.
“I don’t see any party defeating the SDP. The array of our governorship candidates who have contested elections before is overwhelming. If you mention any of them, people know them and they will win in SDP. SDP will stand by you.
“We don’t concede defeat. There is no defeat in our dictionary. We started from a very difficult environment. All of us, let’s forget our sentimental issues if we really want to save Nigeria.”
A former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, said weak institutions spread insecurity which is steering the people on the face.
“Our situation, as one can see, required great efforts. That’s why we have a lot of people today who are not members of the SDP but want to put things right”, he said.
“Let the truth be told, there are remarkable differences in the scenario then and now. Then we had the leader of the party who was then a sitting president from the South and the candidate was from the North.
He added, “In addition, the National Chairman, Dr Ahmadu Ali, was then on his way out. Today we have no sitting President from our party in Aso Villa so, that argument falls flat. We need to stop playing games and being zombified.
“Let me summarise the genesis of the current crisis. As envisaged by the founding fathers of our party, there are six top positions in our country: President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and national chairman of the party.
“Presently we are not in the government, therefore we only control three of these six positions namely: Presidential, Vice Presidential Candidates and National Chairman.
“I remember that Dr Iyorchia 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.
“The other three positions are futuristic. It is only when we win the elections that we will fill these positions namely: the Senate President, the Speaker and the Secretary to the Federal Government.”