Dr. Iyorchia Ayu is a Prominent Nigerian political figure, respected elder statement, distinguished ABU Alumnus, and former Nigerian Senator who served as the 5th President of the Senate of Nigeria (1992–1993).
He later served at various times as the Federal Minister for Education and Youth Development; Industries; Internal Affairs; and Environment. and is currently the national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)
Iyorchia Ayu was born on 15 November 1952 in Gboko Local Government of Benue State, Nigeria. He attended Mount Saint Gabriel Secondary School, Makurdi.
He studied Sociology at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; and did post-graduate studies at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.
Before moving into partisan politics, he lectured Sociology at the University of Jos. Teaching courses on the art and science of Marxism.
As a University teacher, he was an active member of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU); and was for several years the Chairman of the union at UniJos.
He wrote regularly on politics and society, and contemporary culture. In 1991, Dr. Ayu spent time as a member of the Editorial Board of Daily Times and left the following year to contest for the Senate on the platform of the then Social Democratic Party, SDP.
He was elected to the senate to represent Benue North-West Senatorial District; a seat hitherto held by the late Senator J.S.Tarka.
At the Senate, Senator Ayu was overwhelmingly elected by his colleagues as the 4th President of the Senate of Nigeria, where he demonstrated that there is honour and principle in politics by defending the June 12 mandate of MKO Abiola.
In November 1993, the Senate impeached Ayu, who was also a strong opponent of the Interim National Government established after the elected president Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola had been prevented from taking office.
He was a member of the G9 which expanded to G18, and later G34 which finally mid-wife the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
However, he later became the Minister for Education in General Sani Abacha’s military government. In March 1994 he chaired a workshop on Technical Education in Nigeria, seeking ways to learn from Germany, the United States, Britain, and Japan.
Ayu assisted in the 1998-1999 campaign to elect President Olusegun Obasanjo on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP platform). Obasanjo appointed him Industry Ministry from 1999 to 2000.
Ayu was appointed Minister of Internal Affairs in July 2003. In September 2003 Ayu announced that Nigeria was negotiating security pacts with its northern neighbors 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. In August 2004, the ministry of internal affairs under his watch began the distribution of the Nigerian national identity cards.
The new card was to serve for identification purposes and validation of other documents, such as passports and driver’s licenses. It would also 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. At a meeting in Rotterdam in September 2005, Ayu called for an effective, sufficient, and predictable financial mechanism to provide the technical skills and infrastructure needed for African countries to handle chemicals safely.
In October that year, Ayu called for fair access to UNDP/GEF funds, and increased allocations to developing countries. In December 2005 he spoke at a conference on Integrated Coastal Area Management (ICAM).
He praised the holistic, multi-sectoral approach of ICAM as a way to manage the regional ecosystem. In December 2005, Obasanjo dismissed Ayu, giving no reason.
After falling out with Obasanjo, Ayu left the PDP and joined the Action Congress (AC). He was head of the campaign to elect Vice President Atiku Abubakar as president on the AC platform in April 2007.
In February 2007, Ayu was arrested and later arraigned by a Federal court on charges of terrorism. He was later released on bail.
During his brief sabbatical from active political involvement, Senator Ayu was an active member of the Northern Leaders Political Forum which seeks to maintain power rotation in Nigerian politics for unity, stability, and sustainable development.
Iyorchia Ayu was elected National Chairman of the PDP alongside other national officers at the party’s national convention, held on October 30 and 31 2022 at Eagles Square in Abuja.
Iyorchia Ayu was on December 10 sworn in as national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
In his acceptance speech, the new PDP national chairman promised to reposition the party towards emerging victorious in the 2023 general elections.
Iyorchia Ayu is married to two women and has nine children, five from his first wife and four from his second wife.