PDP chairmanship: How South-West lost out; GEJ, others react - TREAT P WORLD

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PDP chairmanship: How South-West lost out; GEJ, others react

PDP chairmanship: How South-West lost out; GEJ, others react

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By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Omeiza Ajayi & Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA—The South-West lost the opportunity of producing the national
chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, after Mr. Jimi Agbaje, who
was the shoo-in candidate of the governors, was accused of abandoning the
party at the time of the crisis instigated by the face-off with Senator Ali
Modu Sheriff.

The expectation of the South-West zone was also compounded by the
decision of the immediate past national chairman of the party, Senator
Ahmed Makarfi, to open up the chairmanship contest to the whole south.
That decision, high party chieftains said at the weekend, was framed to also
open up the presidential ticket zoned to the North to all areas of the North.
Markarfi, who exited office on Saturday, had until the return of Atiku
Abubakar, been considered the leading presidential aspirant in the party.
Meanwhile, multiple sources told Vanguard that some former PDP chieftains
and some foundation members of the APC had been making overtures to
rejoin or join the opposition party on account of developments at the
weekend.

A senior party official privy to the developments that led to the emergence of
Prince Uche Secondus as national chairman, said party elders had before the
aborted Port-Harcourt convention of May 2016 agreed to micro-zone the
position of national chairman to the South West.

Mr. Agbaje, who was the candidate of the party in the 2015 governorship
election, was projected by the governors, following the resolve of the
governors through Governor Nyesom Wike and the National Assembly caucus
through Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy President of the Senate.
However, after the crisis broke out between the mainstream of the party and
the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff faction, Agbaje, one of the very prominent party
figures, was alleged to have become detached from the party.

“All the time we were in court, we did not see Agbaje. After the court
judgment, when he now came and wanted to proceed from where we
stopped, we told him to go away,” the normally reliable source disclosed at
the weekend.

“Some suspect that Makarfi, because of his own presidential aspiration,
decided to open up the office of national chairman to all the zones in the
south so that he would himself not be restricted when the issue of the
presidential ticket zoned to the North would be considered,” the source said.
The claim was upon suggestions in the past that the PDP could zone the
presidential ticket to the North-East, considering that it is the only zone in
the North not to have produced a Nigerian leader since the sixties.
Another factor that played to the disadvantage of the South-West was
inability of the region to forge a consensus on the choice of a national
chairman. Ahead of the convention, the Northern elders who had sympathies
for the South-West had repeatedly passed the message to South-West
candidates to prune down their candidates, but they were unable to do so
until late on Saturday by which time Secondus had already cut deals with the
Northern delegates.

Meanwhile, a number of the governors were also worried by the electoral
value of many of the delegates. It was the opinion of the governors and
major stakeholders that none of the candidates could deliver his state in an
election.

Governor Ayo Fayose was said to have been particularly irritated by the
aspiration of Professor Tunde Adeniran from his state and was reported to
have openly disclaimed him in a meeting of the National Executive
Committee, NEC of the party.

APC taunts PDP

Meanwhile, the ruling APC, yesterday, taunted the PDP for enthroning a new
executive through a bazaar, saying the PDP is yet to change its colours.
“The abnormalities that trailed the PDP National Convention have further
exposed the PDP as a party not ready and willing to change. Indeed, the PDP
has once again displayed itself to the generality of Nigerians that it is a party
with corruption deeply rooted in its DNA.

“Again, it is tragic that the PDP which used to pride itself as “the biggest
political Party in Africa” has now been reduced to a regional party. By
frustrating South-West chairmanship candidates, it is unfortunate that the
PDP has decided to punish the South-West for not voting for the party in
2015.

“We urge members of the PDP that can pass the integrity test to join the APC
so that we can together bring about the much-needed change the country
deserves,” the APC said in a statement issued by its National Publicity
Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi.

The APC was immediately rebuffed in a statement issued by the party’s new
National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, who described the ruling
party as being jittery over the emergence of the new executive.

The statement read: “It is indeed laughable that the APC which has roundly
failed in not only managing the affairs of the country but also its own internal
issues would recourse to panic mode just because the PDP has succeeded in
uniting its fronts by conducting a very credible elective National Convention.
“We were very much aware of the plots by the APC to scuttle the convention
and failing, it has resorted to a failed attempt to discredit an elective
convention that has been adjudged as creditable, novel and laudable by
political stakeholders and lovers of democracy across the nation.

“Is it not disgusting, reprehensible and embarrassing that the APC that has
repeatedly failed to hold meetings, congresses and convention in the last
three years and has flagrantly continued to violate its own constitution is
questioning our party’s rights to perform her legitimate and constitutional
obligation?
“Perhaps APC leaders have never read Article 25 (A)(i) of their party’s
Constitution which stipulates that ‘the National Convention of the party
(APC) shall be held once in two years at a date, venue and time to be
recommended by the National Working Committee (NWC) and approved by
the National Executive Committee (NEC) subject to the giving of the statutory
notices to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and at least
14 days notice given to members eligible to attend.’

“Which impunity could be higher than APC violating its constitution? It is
strange that APC could be moralizing on the principles of social justice
whereas its actions against Nigerians are a complete departure from the
norms.

“Nigerians have come to discover that APC is a fraud, an organization of
deceitful characters who have failed to keep a single of its countless
promises made to the citizens.

“It is no longer news that the nation is drifting under APC and the PDP has
come to the rescue. We must, therefore, remind the APC that the era of
deceit, trickery and scare-mongering, which have been the hallmarks of their
government, is gone and Nigerians are just waiting to kick them out come
2019.”

Jonathan, others hail new PDP NEC
Meanwhile, congratulatory messages continued to pour the way of the new
executive, with former President, Goodluck Jonathan, Deputy President of the
Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-
Kayode, among others, congratulating the new executives of the party.
A statement issued by Jonathan’s spokesperson, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, said the
ex-President also tasked members of the party to make sacrifices, noting that
the only way to achieve the party’s goals and aspirations was to unite as
members of one political family.

“I reiterate that the only way to prove that this is victory for the PDP and all
our members is for the new leaders to be magnanimous and aim to carry
everybody along, for we cannot achieve our mission and aspirations unless
we unite as a family.

“To the rest of us, let us make sacrifices, put our differences behind us and
accept this as a new dawn that will take our party to greater heights.”
Ekweremadu in a statement issued by his Special Adviser, Uche Anichukwu,
said the PDP had set an example, which other political parties will have to
emulate to deepen the nation’s democracy.

“Importantly, I believe that 2019 is a comeback year for the PDP because
distraught Nigerians look up to our great party. However, there is a lot of
work to be done, and party faithful expect members of the new NWC to hit
the ground running because they have no luxury of a honeymoon.
“We expect them to start the process of galvanising party faithful to
reposition the PDP and mobilise Nigerians towards building a Nigeria of our
dreams.”

Fani-Kayode in his own message of congratulation said: “We must now all
set aside our differences and prepare to face the monumental challenge that
lay ahead.

“We must be ready and prepared to fight for a greater cause and to stand
against a vicious, corrupt, deceitful, relentless and rapacious enemy that has
divided our country, that has destroyed our economy, and that has
persecuted, marginalised, humiliated, demonised, massacred and pauperised
our people. Together we shall “change the change” and “burn the brooms” in
2019.”

New chairman, Prince Secondus has said that his mandate is to return the
party to power in the Presidential Villa.

In his acceptance speech delivered early yesterday morning following his
declaration, Secondus also promised to strengthen the processes of internal
democracy in the party.

He said: “By my understanding, the mandate you have given us today is
clear and unambiguous. It is to return our party to power come 2019. As
herculean as this mandate seems, I know it’s achievable. My campaign
pillars for this election are ‘To Rebuild, Reposition and Regain’. Let me
assure you great members and leaders of our party that by the grace of God
and with all hands on deck, the brief tenancy of the All Progressives Congress
(APC) in Aso Rock Villa expires on May 28, 2019. By this, we serve them a
quit notice.

“Under my watch, internal democracy will be strictly adhered to with a
deliberate policy to return ‘real’ power to the people. No more imposition, no
more impunity. Every member of this party can from this moment, consider
him or herself, an equal shareholder in our common destiny. I call on all
Nigerians to embrace this new PDP and join in this quest for a new Nigeria.”
He called on the trio of Professors Tunde Adeniran, Taoheed Adedoja and
High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, who contested the position with him to rally
round the party, describing them as “eminently qualified to lead the party.”
PDP yet to overcome impunity — Adedoja

In his reaction, yesterday, one of the chairmanship candidates from the South
West, Professor Taoheed Adedoja, said the process that led to the conclusion
of the convention showed that the PDP was yet to do away with the culture
of impunity.

Speaking in Abuja, the former Minister of Sports & Special Duties said he was
not happy about the exercise as he thought the party would have learned its
lessons from its recent past.

“The conduct of the national convention was characterized with impunity
which must be reviewed in order to avert further crises in the party,” he said.

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