On Thursday, former President of the Senate in the aborted third republic, Iyorchia Ayu emerged as the consensus chairmanship candidate of the main opposition party ahead of the Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the north.
His emergent was a result of horse trading and concensus building amont the three geo-political zone in the northern part of the country where the position was zoned to by the party.
It was a rigorous contest between Abdul Ningi, a former senator from the North-East, former Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State from North West and Ayu from north central.
A meeting to select a consensus candidate from the three earlier scheduled for Wednesday, was postponed.
A highly placed party insider, who was privy to what transpired during the series of meetings which started on Monday and ended on Thursday, gave an insight into what transpired.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution said, “Yesterday (Wednesday)’s meeting to select consensus candidate could not hold because when the governors saw the mood and number of people mobilised in and out of the venue, they realised their scheme would fail except they appealed to some stakeholders and come clean instead of the manipulations. They then postponed it till 11am (Thursday).
“Another meeting later held last night where Bauchi Governor, Bala Mohammed, and others pleaded with other stakeholders in the zone to accept Ayu because the governors had agreed among themselves that he was the man for the job.
“Mohammed spoke on behalf of his other colleagues. He then ushered in Ayu who also appealed for their support and gave assurances that he will ensure a level playing field for all.”
Another source said,“The scheme by the governors began to unravel at the North-East meeting when Senator Suleiman Nazif who initially stood as the sole aspirant from the zone found out that the Bauchi Governor had encouraged Senator Abdul Ningi to join the race in order to stop him.
“The plan was for them to pick Ningi over Nazif and get Ningi to withdraw for Ayu. When Nazif threatened to contest at the convention no matter what happened and Shema also vowed to go the whole hog, the governors realised that their scheme could fail and they decided to reach out to stakeholders to beg. The governors eventually had their way.”
In his acceptance speech, Ayu promised to return the party to winning ways. He promised to work with other party leaders to rebuild the party in order for it to take power come 2023.
“I believe all Nigerians missed the PDP government. Our 16 years moved the country forward. We intend to work together with all the leaders not only in the north but across the country to reposition this country to the next generation of Nigerians.
“It will be an all-inclusive administration of the party. We will work collectively; we will introduce policies that will be acceptable to Nigerians,” Ayu said.
It is hope that the party presidential candidate will emerge from the southern part of the country with the emergent of chairman from the north in accordance with the zoning formular of the party.