Ayu, PDP and triumph of diplomacy
Dr. Iyorchia Ayu is the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A man of many parts, Ayu is a sociologist, journalist, teacher, trade unionist, politician, political strategist, lawmaker, public servant and party administrator.
He is, thus, at home with the infrastructure of politics. Although public space analysts have labelled him variously as a “Phoenix,” “master strategist” or “chess master,” Ayu simply describes himself as a “thinker.” And it is with the proverbial thinking cap that he today deftly superintends the affairs of Nigeria’s only organic political party.
A politician of a different hue, Ayu talks in laconic terms and lets his strategic outcomes speak for him. As such, he is not one to stand in the market square in search of headlines. However, despite this, Nigeria’s Third Republic Senate President continues to dominate the news media.
But aside from the buzz of media mentions generated around and about him, Ayu occasionally generates his own news waves. And whereas others may use his name to make headlines, he carefully chooses his public square outings to make statements. And one such was his recent outing in Kano. It was his first reaction to the ripples that have attended the party’s presidential convention in May.
Kano is important in terms of its demographics, politics, economics and homiletics. It is the second most populous state in Nigeria after Lagos. It is the centre of industry, agriculture and Islamic banking in Northern Nigeria. Names like Aminu Dantata and Aliko Dangote are unarguably Kano’s best-known industrial ambassadors. In the area of homiletics, the state has produced Islamic scholars in the likes of Jaáfar Mahmud Adam, Shaykh Isa Waziri and Dr. Ahamed Bamba.
And in terms of politics, Kano has continued to set the pace. Until the advent of APC in 2015, Kano was the Home of Progressive Politics in Northern Nigeria, dating back to the days of Mallam Aminu Kano. It has produced great politicians and statesmen notably the fiery Gen. Murtala Muhammed (one-time military ruler) as well as Messrs. Abubakar Rimi, Maitama Yusuf Sule and Ibrahim Shekarau, all game-changers in their own rights.
It is a proud heritage that continues to stand Kano out. So, Kano is a strategic state in many respects. This was where Ayu chose to speak. And his choice of both language (Hausa) and medium (BBC Hausa Service) was strategic. In other words, to drive home his message, Ayu spoke in the language of the region.
Latest voter registration statistics give the highest percentages to the North: North-Central, 14 million; North-East, 13million and North-West 23million. The language of communication in the North is majorly Hausa. By speaking in Hausa, Ayu spoke to a mega-market of over 50 million registered voters. So, he was strategic in the timing, the location, the delivery and the substance of his message.
Ayu doesn’t speak because he wants to talk, but because he has something to say. And that day, he shed light on a number of grey areas. And among the things was: “When we started PDP, these children were not around. They are children who do not know why we formed the party.”
And understandably, the outing was attended by ripples. The bone of contention was the word ”children.” Although that may not have come out well, the controversy surrounding it derives, substantially, from misunderstanding and/or distortion of context. If there were no reservoir of anger or vestiges of bitterness, there would be no such adverse reaction or distortion of context.
But even beyond the issue of translation or context, as the national chairman of the PDP, Ayu is the father of everybody in PDP, symbolically or figuratively. This makes all PDP members, partisans or juggernauts, Ayu’s children. Besides, in 1998 when the G.34 midwife Nigeria’s Fourth Republic in general; and PDP’s birth, in particular, the mean age was around 55; with courageous patriots like Ayu, being about the youngest at 48, and late Chief Bola Ige, being the oldest at 68! Confronting the ruthless military dictatorship in 1998 was not a child’s play. Therefore, by their patriotic membership alone, the G.34 proved it was an adult assembly, a congregation of the bold.
So, by patriotism, pragmatism and especially chronology, the G.34 members were not children, but mature adults. It is not for nothing, therefore, that history calls them “PDP’s Founding Fathers!” And the mere appellation of “Founding Fathers” suggests, even if subliminally, that there are “Children.”
We, thus, plead: What history has bestowed, let not politics take away or begrudge. What we need now is a closing of ranks, a cementing of ties and a togetherness of purpose.
And this is what the BoT Meeting of the party as well as its 97th NEC Meeting affirmed last Thursday. It was essentially the triumph of diplomacy and a stinging rebuke to the outside forces that are vainly stoking the fires of disunity in the PDP ahead of 2023.
The echoes from Kano were hot, but they present the party with a grand opportunity to tap the emanating heat so as to energize the party towards building internal cohesion. That is exactly what last week’s meeting of the party’s NEC did when it seized the moment. As the national chairman reiterated to a newspaper at the weekend, “There is no victor and no vanquished. This is the message from the NWC. We didn’t even have crises in the first place, but ripples in the family. Thankfully, we have put that behind us and are moving on as a united family.
“Diplomacy has won. PDP has won. But even diplomacy is not a one-off thing. It’s a process. So, we are intensifying efforts at the highest levels of the party in order to complete the reconciliation and healing process ahead of next year’s elections.”
He added: “2023 is on the horizon, and we must never lose sight of the big picture. Nigeria needs PDP to reclaim the promise of her manifest destiny. And, together, we are stronger for the historic task ahead of us as party faithful and patriots.”
• Imobo-Tswam is the Special Adviser to the PDP National Chairman.