Former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, has vehemently warned that the party may lose again the 2023 elections if its National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, refuses to bow out of office now honourably.
The retired Naval top brass blew hot Thursday in Lagos at a press conference where he foresaw defeat awaiting the party if the voice of reason was not heeded.
According to him, heavens would not fall if Ayu resigns from office, just as he asserted that the vote of confidence passed on the party leader at its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting recently was irrelevant because of the simple fact that majority of executive members from the Southern part of the country were not in attendance.
He therefore admonished the party’s Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, not take PDP members from the South for granted, or else, it would be suicidal to do so.
He further accused some of the leaders for being responsible for the crisis in the party because of what he termed was their flawed personal interests.
His words: “with two weeks to the commencement of campaign season that we believe will usher in a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government into Aso Rock in 2023, unfortunately, I am compelled to address a ‘clear and present danger’ that might thwart this window of opportunity afforded the PDP.
“Our party, the 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.
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“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,” he narrated.
He spoke further thus: “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.
“Therefore, I repeat that I have no iota of tribalism in my blood and will always fight for 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.
“As leaders of the party, we must not pander towards ethnic affiliation because PDP is the only true national party. The APC is just a mere congregation of strange bed fellows.
“Members of our great party must be ready to seize this opportunity to move this country forward. This cannot be achieved when leaders of our party insist on peddling ugly rumours and throwing mud at each other.
“We should not allow any sentiment – ethnic or religious to divide us. 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,” he declared.
He therefore advised that, “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.”
Going down the memory lane, he reminded that, “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.
“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.
“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,” he lectured his audience.
Explaining his displeasure over the turn of events, Bode George remembered 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, according to him, are futuristic stating that, “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.”
Anything contrary, George described as making no political sense. His words:
“As a result of the need to have inclusiveness, oneness and togetherness, it does not make any political sense for the Presidential Candidate and the National Chairman to come from the same zone. Now, we have a situation in which some elders are saying “it does not matter”. Can we go into the election with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, from the same zone, leading our National Campaign?
“This will be an affront, an impunity, and an insult to the electorate and party members from the South. So, they are now asking the following questions patently:
“Have we thrown our integrity to the dogs? How will Southern PDP leaders convince their electorate to vote for our candidate when there is no substantial National position in the Southwest?
“How can we go into the election season with this type of division and expect to win the February 25 presidential election? Unless we are united, unless we have fairness, equity and justice in our system, the party and the country are heading nowhere.
“I am not a soothsayer, but I have traversed the length and breadth of our country and have learnt so much politically. What I have predicted above will come to pass unless reason prevails and we apply the brake immediately.
“It was the same myopic and unpatriotic reasoning that led to the collapse of the First and Second Republics. My intervention is about the future of this country because what is good for the goose is good for the gander.”
He then raised a poser: “Peradventure, let us reverse the scenario and think of these consequences. What do you think will happen if our Presidential Candidate and the National Chairman come from the South?
“How do you think our Northern brothers will feel and handle the situation? Southerners are feeling alienated. What is happening now is that many Southerners are feeling alienated, two weeks to the commencement of the presidential campaign!”
Concluding, Bode George declared categorically that the positions of Presidential Candidate and National Chairman cannot come from the same zone. Period.
The largest vote in this election, according to him would come from Lagos, which is more than seven million, asking rhetorically, “do we want to do away with seven million votes? Will that make any political sense? With respect to our Presidential Candidate, in the interests of the corporate goal of our party and the future generations of Nigerians, it is my considered request that our present Chairman must bow out with dignity and candor. This will be the hallmark of nobility and decency.
“But 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.
“Lastly, let me restate that the position of National Chairman must revert to the South now and not after the general elections. If we don’t do that, then you are telling some Nigerians that you don’t need them to win in 2023 and that will be very unfortunate. This will be a direct insult on Nigerians because no Party can win massively from one side of the country.
“Tribal and religious sentiments will never help us. These were the ingredients that caused the civil war. So, our party must do the needful now. Anything else will be suicidal,” he rounded off.