Three major contenders have emerged for the national chairmanship position of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of its national convention slated for October 30 and 31 in Abuja.
They are Iyorchia Ayu, a former Senate President from Benue State in the North-Central region; Ibrahim Shema, former Katsina State governor from the North-West, and Suleiman Nazif, the Deputy National Chairman (North), who is from the North-East.
The zoning committee of the party, headed by the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, had few days ago zoned the position of the national chairman to the North.
Ugwuanyi had announced that the National Working Committee (NWC) positions currently being held by party members across the country would be swapped between the North and South.
By that arrangement, all positions currently occupied by Southerners move to the North while those been occupied by Northerners move to the South.
Prince Uche Secondus, the former national chairman of the party who was removed by a Rivers High Court on August 23 is from the South while Elder Yemi Akinwonmi who took over from him in acting capacity is also from the South.
Earlier on Tuesday, Ayu emerged as the consensus candidate of the North-Central after a marathon meeting of the leaders of the zone at the Benue State Governor’s Lodge, Abuja.
Addressing journalists after the meeting, Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, said the leaders from the six states in the North-Central chose Ayu from a number of five aspirants that indicated interest in the race.
Those that stepped down were Senator David Mark, Ex-Governor Ibrahim Idris, Prof. Jerry Gana and Attah Idoko.
According to Ortom, the leaders of the zone picked Ayu because they believe he has the commitment and capacity to stabilise the PDP and lead the party to victory in the 2023 general elections.
He said, “We met here for several hours. Amongst the five persons that were contesting, the leadership of our party from the North-Central unanimously agreed to sponsor former Senate President, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, to be the national chairman of our party from the North-Central.
“There was no voting, we all agreed that he is the right person for this job at this time. Tomorrow (Wednesday), the Northern stakeholders of our PDP are going to meet. So he will be presented to the Northern caucus of the party. I think that by the grace of God they will also accept him”.
Ortom, however, clarified that the choice of Ayu as consensus candidate of the North-Central does not stop the North-East and North-West from presenting their candidates.
He said the purpose of the meeting was to find a consensus candidate among the five aspirants who would be presented to a larger meeting of the entire Northern Caucus.
Following Ayu’s endorsement, six out of the North-West states endorsed Shema as consensus candidate from North-West. The last state backed Ahmed Makarfi.
Source, however, said Ayu enjoys the support of majority of the governors in the party.“With Ayu, Shema and Nazif now endorsed as the candidates of the three Northern zones, the entire North will decide on one of the three as their sole candidate to the convention”, he said.