Nigeria: I Was Elected to Help PDP Win, Not to Steal – Ayu

National chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, on Friday, said he was elected to restore the party to power, and not to loot or mismanage party funds.

This is Ayu’s first public reaction to allegations of bribe-taking and looting of party funds against him and some members of the National Working Committee (NWC).

According to a statement by his special adviser on Media and Communications, Simon Imobo-Tswam, the PDP national chairman stated this when he hosted the Forum of Elected Ex-Officio Members of the party who paid him a solidarity visit at the Wadata Plaza national headquarters of the party in Abuja.

He also disclosed that Ayu has instructed the Finance Department of the PDP to maintain an update of the party’s incomes and expenditures account for presentation to the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) at the first-year anniversary of the present NWC in December this year.

Recall that Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, had alleged thatnAyu collected one billion naira from a PDP presidential aspirant in Lagos, daring the national chairman to deny the allegation.

Also five members of the NWC had recently returned N151million housing allowances given to them to the party on the ground that the payment of the money into their accounts came barely days after a report disclosed they were being bribed to keep quiet over the way party funds were being managed.

One of the NWC members who returned his money, deputy national chairman (South), Taofeek Arapaja, had told LEADERSHIP that there were more financial discrepancies in the party under Ayu’s watch.

But speaking on Friday, Ayu said although he has many faults as a human being, stealing was not one of them, adding that the present NWC was being guided by the principles of transparency and accountability.

His words: “The PDP was not founded to be in opposition. We founded the party to access power and develop the country. And my historic task is to return the party to power. I won’t be chairman forever. For now my preoccupation is to return the party to power. I did not come to steal. My public service record is there.

“I have been a leader of the National Assembly. I have been a minister many times. As a person, I have many faults, but stealing is not one of them. I am conscious of my place in history, and the NWC that I lead is guided by the twin-principles of transparency and accountability.

“You may be reading many things and expecting my reaction. If we don’t always talk, it is because we want to maintain and build cohesion in the party. We don’t want continuous altercations in the PDP Family. Our eyes are on the big picture i.e. winning the 2023 general elections.”

He went on: “Therefore, let us not lose focus. Let us keep our eyes glued on the big picture. Everything else is secondary. We took office because there was crisis in the party. And we don’t want to keep moving from crises to crises. It’s not good for the party. We can’t be in perpetual crises, especially where the crisis is artificial.

He added: “The NWC met and discussed the issue of Housing Allowance. It was unanimously agreed that no bribe or any form of illegality took place. A statement has since been issued to that effect. The matter has now been laid to rest.”

Earlier in his remarks, the chairman of the Forum, Hon. Yunana Iliya, said the members were at the party secretariat to express solidarity with the National Chairman, and pledged their unalloyed loyalty to the Ayu-led NWC.

“We stand by the recent Vote of Confidence passed on you by the highest decision-making body of the party, the National Executive Committee (NEC), and we urge all party faithful to close ranks in PDP’s rescue work,” Iliya stated.

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