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Six things to know about Iyorchia Ayu, PDP’s consensus candidate for National Chairman

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On Thursday, former Senate President, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, from Gboko in Benue State, emerged as the consensus candidate for the position of national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

This comes ahead of the party’s national elective convention slated for October 31.

Ayu’s emergence as the consensus candidate of the PDP followed a series of meetings by the party’s stakeholders in the northern region.

The former Senate President was chosen after two other contenders for the position; a former Governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema and Senator Abdul Ningi were persuaded to step down.

PDP stakeholders in the North-Central zone, especially the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, had canvassed for Ayu, saying he is the right person for the job at the time.

Following his emergence as the consensus candidate of the party, many have continued to ask questions about his history and capacity to pilot the affairs of the party, given the crises that had continued to shake the party.

Here are few things to know about the incoming PDP national chairman.

1. Former Senate President
Ayu is a former Senator who was elected President of the Senate during the Nigerian Third Republic between 1992 and 1993. After entering politics, he was influential among the majority of the Tiv people in his home state of Benue.

He was elected Senator in the Third Republic on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and became Senate President. However, in November 1993, the Senate impeached Ayu, who was a strong opponent of the Interim National Government established after the elected president Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola was prevented from assuming office.

2. Ministerial appointments
Ayu’s ministerial journey kicked off when he became the Minister for Education in General Sani Abacha’s military government between 1993 and 1998, and chaired a workshop on Technical Education in Nigeria, seeking ways to learn from Germany, the United States, Britain and Japan in March 1994.

Following his support in the 1998-1999 campaign to elect President Olusegun Obasanjo on the platform of the PDP, the former Senate President was appointed the Minister of Industry in June 1999, which he served till 2001.

Also, he served as the Minister of Internal Affairs from July 2003 to June 2005. In September 2003, Ayu announced that Nigeria was negotiating security pacts with its northern neighbours Niger and Chad to clamp down on smuggling, human trafficking and cross border banditry.

In June 2004, he inaugurated the Prisons Monitoring Committee to secure the rights of prisoners to acceptable conditions and in August 2004, he disclosed that his ministry had started the distribution of national identity cards, saying the new card was to serve for identification purposes and validation of other documents, such as passports and driver’s licences.

Also, he said the cards would be a tool for controlling migration flows, generating data for government planning, and detecting crimes.

During a cabinet reshuffle in June 2005, Ayu was reassigned to become Minister of Environment, which he served from June 2005 to December 2005, when he was dismissed by Obasanjo after a fell out with the then-president.

READ ALSO: PDP North-Central adopts ex-Senate President, Ayu, as party’s National Chairman

3. Left PDP for AC in 2007
Following his fallout with former President, Obasanjo, in 2007, Ayu dumped the PDP and cross carpeted to the Action Congress (AC). He headed the campaign to elect Vice President Atiku Abubakar as president on the platform of AC in April 2007.

However, Atiku, who was strongly opposed by Obasanjo, lost to late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of the PDP.

4. Perceived as Senator George Akume’s political godfather
Ayu was perceived as a political godfather to the former Governor of Benue State, George Akume. Ayu was instrumental to Akume’s emergence as the governor of Benue, which he served from 1999 to 2007.

5. Career as a lecturer
The former Senator started his career as a lecturer in the University of Jos where he taught sociology, and other courses on the art and science of Marxism. He was once the Chairman of the Jos University chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

6. Crime charges
In February 2007, Ayu was arrested and arraigned by a federal court on charges of terrorism but was later released on bail.

Also, Ayu was among those that were listed as beneficiaries of fraud, in an amended charge by the Federal Government in April 2018, over the diversion of $2.1 billion arms funds.

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