Zaki Felix: Iyorchia Ayu and PDP have found the right plug by focusing on youth inclusion

  “PDP is back to rescue Nigeria…” roared the newly elected National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Dr Iyorchia Ayu shortly...

 

“PDP is back to rescue Nigeria…” roared the newly elected National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Dr Iyorchia Ayu shortly after he was announced as the succesor of Prince Uche Secondus.

While addressing thousands of delegates who had validated his consensus candidature at the Eagle Square, Abuja, venue of the party’s national convention on the 31st of October, 2021, Ayu, in his soft and baritone voice did not disappoint the delegates. He spoke to them and Nigerians pointing out the abysmal performance of the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government and said it is time to rescue Nigeria.

In his words full of hope, Ayu said “a stage, where we ruled for 16 years, we went into rough times, but for anybody, who bothered to see, PDP is back. PDP is back to rescue Nigeria from the terrible mess we have been in, in the last six years.” His words were assuring and they delighted the gathering of enthusiastic PDP faithful and supporters.

The convention ended successfully and in glamour; but it marked the beginning of the real journey for Ayu as the National Chairman of the PDP even as he is yet to take over from Secondus. His real test had begun the very moment he was announced. Ayu’s qualification and political credentials are never in doubt. His competence level is equally legendary. He is the man for the job and Nigerians are waiting to see the freshness he would bring to the party.

A few days after the convention, Ayu began to state where his leadership would channel more energy to achieve what he termed “the rescue mission.” The former President of the Senate has identified gaps in Nigeria’s political system and declared to close those gaps. He had seen the gaps as the right plugs to increase the fortunes of the party. He identified the right group to include in the rescue mission – the youths.

It was on October 31, 2021, the day he emerged as the national chairman of the major opposition party that he addressed Benue state delegates to the convention at the Benue Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja. During that well-attended interaction, Senator Iyorchia Ayu said his leadership will make sure youths inclusion and active participation is prioritized as he explained how important the roles young people play in ensuring electoral victory for individuals and political parties. Ayu was speaking from an informed position because he is aware that the combination of renowned party men with youths will bolster the winning chances of the party in every given election and urged all party stakeholders to woo more youths to the PDP.

He said: “Let us reach out to everyone. But we’ll particularly focus on youths and emphasize their inclusion in participation for us to attain our goal. These are a critical part of our drive to reposition the party for future victory.”

Ayu’s statement is a reflection of what the party stands for; all inclusively. The party for the old and young; the party for everyone.
But before Ayu could make the statement of the youth inclusion in the new dispensation, the party itself had demonstrated something similar by electing a 25-year-old man, Muhammed Kadade Suleiman as the National Youth leader of the party.

The election of the youngest National Youth leader of one of the biggest political parties in Nigeria is a demonstration that the party is ready to mentor young people to become great leaders. Political mentorship is one of the things that is lacking in the Nigerian political system. There is no mentorship and no political party has, arguably, been seen to be on that path except now that PDP has taken the lead, expecting others to follow.

The signing of the Not-Too-Yoing-To-Run bill into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in May, 2018 was a turning point for Nigerian youths and an opportunity for the All Progressives Congress to leverage and show some measure of sincerity; but it failed. The President had after signing the bill into law told Nigerian youths to postponed their presidential ambition till after 2019. He had opened a door for youth participation but subtly restricted his position from contestation and no young man from the party aspired for the presidency.
He said, “I am confident each one of you will transform Nigeria in your own way – whether through the media, agricultural enterprise, economics, engineering, or as lawmakers in your States or at Federal levels, or as State Governors – and even someday, as President. Why not? “But please, can I ask you to postpone your campaigns till after the 2019 elections”. It sounded like a kind of joke; but it was a mild message to the youth that the APC was not willing to give them the chance the desire to lead.

Aside from the historic signing of the law, the Buhari administration and the APC have not really carried the youths along both in administration and party affairs. For instance, there is no person below the age of 35 as a cabinet member of the Buhari government.

Ayu and the PDP must be commended for the new path they have found to increase the fortunes of the party and the election of the 25-year-old as National Youth Leader tells the party is serious about the drive for youth inclusion. They must however, ensure that young aspirants are supported to occupy elective positions so that they do not see themselves as tools for the victories of others. If that is done, it will align with what the Not-To-Young-To-Run movement had said that “greater youth participation in the electoral process is indicative of the development of the country’s democracy, and it is no longer just about serving as the basis for the electoral victory of others, but being able to participate in and win elections for themselves, and thereby having representation in structures of decision-making.”

Many Nigeria youths are happy that PDP has recognized their importance and are eager to grab the opportunity they have been waiting for to become leaders and contribute to the development of the country. If the PDP and Ayu are committed to youth inclusion in the party and see it through, then the party will not only return to winning ways in 2023, but shall become the party to beat major elections in Nigeria.

Zaki Felix writes from Turan, Logo LGA, Benue State
[email protected]
07061257101

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