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Ayu: How Not to run A Political Party – By Ray Morphy

Political party leadership involves multiple skills and talents. It has been said that an effective leader is someone who knows “when to lead, when to follow, and when to get out of the way” (the phrase is attributed to the American revolutionary Thomas Paine).

In his view, effective leaders do much more than give orders. They create a shared vision for the future and viable strategic plans for the present. They negotiate ways to achieve what is needed while also listening to what is wanted. They incorporate individuals and groups into processes of making decisions by developing support for their plans.

These are certain qualities that are needed in the leadership of political parties and these qualities are what the people seek in those they choose for leadership roles in democratic systems of government.

The national chairman of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Iyorchia Ayu, seems not to be abreast of these fine qualities expected of the leader of a political party seeing how the party is literally disintegrating under his watch!

Just ahead of the general elections in which many expected the PDP to give the All Progressives Congress (APC) a bloody nose due to its inability to fulfill much of the promises it made to Nigerians, the party appears rudderless.

 The simmering problem in PDP started when the party jettisoned its zoning arrangement which was sacrosanct as it was enshrined in its constitution. That zoning arrangement necessitated the zoning of its presidential ticket to the South, since the ruling president is from the north as well as the party chairman.

 The PDP crisis came to a head after the contentious PDP presidential primaries which was won by former vice president Atiku Abubakar. That PDP convention, also known as a money rain as it was allegedly characterized by a furious dollar rain was also noted for the national chairman’s glaring partisanship.

 Recall that the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal stepped down outside the stipulated time, this was perceived by many as unfair and outside the rules of engagement for the convention, yet Ayu saw nothing wrong with it.

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Tambuwal, however asked his supporters to vote for Atiku as he withdrew from the race this campaigning even when voting had largely started. However, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State saw it differently, he felt that he was robbed. He said he almost scuttled the presidential primary after Tambuwal was allowed to return to the podium to announce his withdrawal from the race. “I have never seen how people can violate procedures and guidelines so brazenly. “I just said, ‘Look, this our party must not be destroyed.’

While many had earlier questioned Ayu’s role in the stepping down of Tambuwal, it was his reaction and statement when he paid ‘thank you’ visit to the governor of Sokoto State after the convention that it became obvious that the National Convention of the PDP was packaged for Atiku to win.

Those who paid a thank you visit to Tambuwal, according to a short video seen on social media were Atiku and the national chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu. Ayu was accompanied by the former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido; former minister of police affairs, Adamu Maina and a former governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha.

Another short video clip, which was also shared online, showed Ayu patting Tambuwal’s back and saying “Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are the hero of the convention.” Unhappy with the way Ayu handled the convention, the national leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Edwin Clark, shortly after the convention called on Iyorcha Ayu, to resign because of the way he handled Atiku Abubakar’s emergence as the party’s standard bearer.

He said the emergence of a northern candidate proved that Ayu was incapable of being chairman of a national party such as the PDP. He warned that the development is an indication that 2023 elections may have “deleterious” consequences for the PDP.

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In a statement Clark stated: “Most disturbing is what happened at the Special National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja on Saturday, May 28. I followed the live broadcast of the proceedings keenly until about 12.30 a.m. on Sunday, the 29th.

 “I was alarmed by the outrageous and Machiavelli manner in which Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto State, was so apparently ‘arranged’ to announce his withdrawal from the contest, at the last minute; his speech changed the mood of the event.

That was done to foist another northerner as the party’s candidate; having regard to the fact that Tambuwal was the only aspirant from the whole of the North West, which had about 192 delegates at the convention.

“What Tambuwal did was not only dishonourable but also a serious electoral abnormality and a tragic betrayal of national patriotism for hidebound interests.”

 He flayed Ayu for visiting Tambuwal to congratulate him and hailing him as “the hero of the convention.”

 “This clearly reveals his partiality and predilection in the processes leading to the baffling conclusion of the PDP presidential primary. His undignified and parochial conduct, to please his principals, is not only a big disgrace to the office he occupies but, also, a sad display of lewd subservience to the political subjugation of one ethnic group, in a diverse country like Nigeria,” he added.

The partisanship of the PDP national chairman and the failure of the party’s presidential candidate to carry Nyesom Wike along has divided the party between the Atiku camp and Nyesom Wike camp, a situation which may likely have dire consequences for the PDP if left unresolved.

To resolve the impasse the Wike’s camp has given an “irreducible minimum condition” for reconciliation in the faceoff between them and the leadership of the main opposition party. The pro-Wike camp said the PDP national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, must go, insisting also that they should be allowed to choose his successor.

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 Many find it absurd that most of the top hierarchy of the party are from one region with scant regard for federal character.

 A former vice national chairman of the party South West and a member of the party’s board of trustees, Chief Bode George, noted recently that Ayu promised to step down if a northerner emerges the presidential candidate of the party, since he is also from the North.

 However, since the emergence of Atiku from the North as the presidential candidate several months ago, Ayu has shown no indication to step down. Not even the demand by the Nyesom Wike camp could make him to budge, rather, he is talking tough. His response to the demand that he should step down says a lot.

He said that he will not resign his position because he sees no reason for him to do so, describing those calling for his resignation as children. Ayu stated this in an interview with BBC Hausa Service. The PDP leader said those calling for his resignation are children in the party who do not know how the party was formed.

It is obvious that the PDP under Ayu are on the path of self destruction because the national chairman has shown that maintaining his position is far more important to him than the survival of the party that he runs.

That is certainly not how to run a political party, especially one that seeks to defeat an incumbent party like the APC.

A political party being a democratic set up, its leaders must bow to the needs and demands of members because without the members, no party can win elections. It is on that basis that Ayu must refine his style, he must understand that he is in no position to play dictator, certainly not in an election year when political goodwill is the only currency of victory.

Culled from LEADERSHIP



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