PDP Convention: Pressure mounts against consensus

VANGUARD Newspaper

ENUGU— Strong resistance to the adoption of a consensus list of candidates for the forthcoming national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, emerged yesterday with key stakeholders fighting to get reckoning in the incoming national executive.

President Goodluck Jonathan apparently not wanting to be partial yesterday directed the outgoing National Working Committee, NWC to publish the list of all candidates vying for the different positions on offer in the NWC. The order came in the midst of allegations that a candidate favoured for the position of National Secretary missed the deadline for the submission of his form.

Meanwhile, the party yesterday named a 60 man National Convention Planning Committee, NCPC headed by erstwhile Foreign Affairs Minister and National Secretary of the party, Chief Ojo Maduekwe.

The order came amid moves by stakeholders in the Southeast to derail the planned national convention through court orders on the premise that their rights to contest were denied by the party.

The threats nonetheless, newly elected PDP chairmen from the Southeast yesterday gave their approval to the consensus list of candidates adopted by senior party stakeholders in Enugu on Sunday.

Besides the contentions by individuals for the advertised positions, it also emerged that states within the geopolitical zones were also contending over the positions zoned to them. Vice-President Namadi Sambo after successfully beating off a move by the Southeast to take over the influential position of the National Organising Secretary was yesterday believed to be now battling off challenges from Kebbi State to take the position from Sambo’s home State of Kaduna.

It was gathered that the order from President Jonathan to publish the list of candidates became imperative following petitioners claims that there were plans to remove their names from among those whose forms were accepted at the end of the deadline for submission of forms on March 10.

Members of the NWC it was learnt were worried by the revelation that Oyinlola who is being touted as the favourite for National Secretary did not submit his form before the March 10 deadline.

According to a source, there was pressure on the NWC to push in Oyinlola’s name, but it was rejected on the ground that the party stopped the collection of forms last week and he never showed interest for the position.

Those whose names were published by the leadership of the party for the position of National Secretary, were Adeniran Tunde, Ekiti; Oke Olusola Alex, Ondo; Sarumi Oladapo Babatunde, Lagos; Babatope Ebenezer Oluwole, Osun; Fabiyi Anthony Oladimeji, Ogun; Akin-Deko Akintayo, Ondo; Adedoja Taoheed, Oyo; Salis Owolabi, Lagos; Olu-Ojo Bola, Ekiti; Pedro Olufemi Olusegun, Lagos and Daramola Joseph Babatunde, Lagos.

According to a source in the national secretariat of the party, “the various aggrieved candidates have petitioned both the President and the NWC and it has been resolved that the best way out is for election to be conducted for any contentious position. This is the reason why the party published the list of all candidates that beat the deadlines in the submission of their nomination forms.

“The action of the party is to assuage any fear of imposition of candidates and to assure members that there is internal democracy within the party.”

At press time yesterday, it was still difficult to include Oyinlola’s name as a candidate for the position of national secretary because the deadline for the submission of the names of candidates had elapsed.

There was also controversy over the choice of a National Organizing Secretary following contentions between Kebbi and Kaduna States over the slot zoned to the Northwest. There were serious moves by Kebbi State to have the position zoned to it, but the Vice President, it was learnt, is insisting that the post be left for Kaduna State. Kebbi State already has the position of National Treasurer which is almost in the kitty of the former Minister of Sports and member of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Bala Ka‘oje.

Meanwhile, chairmen of the party in the five south east states, yesterday, applauded the party’s zonal caucus for resolving amicably the issue of candidates to be presented by the zone for the National Working Committee positions at the National Convention billed for Saturday this week.

The chairmen in a statement issued by the chairman of Enugu State chapter, Chief Vita Abba described the development as unprecedented in the history of the party in the zone.

Leaders of the party from the South East zone had at a closed door meeting in Enugu on Sunday adopted candidates for the various National Working Committee (NWC) positions allocated to the zone. Some of the positions and the candidates unanimously adopted to occupy them include, the National Publicity Secretary, (Chief Olisa Metuh), Deputy National Secretary, (Barrister Solomon Onwe), National Woman Leader, (Ambassador Kema Chikwe) and National Vice chairman for the zone, (Col Austin Akobundu).

A statement from the party issued by the Director of Organisation/Mobilisation Chief Adewale Fatona yesterday listed Maduekwe to head the convention planning committee that also includes former Senate President, Ken Nnamani; former Chairman, PDP presidential Campaign Council, Sen. Dalhatu Seriki Tafida; former National Chairman of PDP, Sen. Ahmadu Ali; ex- Deputy National Chairman, Chief Bode George; former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Chubudom Nwuche; Col. Theophilus Bamigboye (Rtd); former Inspector -General of Police, Chief Mike Okiro.

The Committee which is saddled with the responsibility of conducting the convention also has the deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha; Governors Ibrahim Shema of Katsina; Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom state; Senators Abubakar Bukola Saraki; Ibrahim Abdullahi Gobir; Hope Uzodima; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, Senator Bala Mohammed; Minister of Niger Delta, Elder Godsday Orubebe; Special Adviser to the President, Political, Aliyu A. Gulak among others as members.

Meanwhile, eight aggrieved aspirants seeking various positions in the party from the Southeast yesterday threatened to initiate a court action to stop the party from going ahead with the convention on this weekend on the premise that they were wrong excluded from the contest.

The eight from Imo State Chief Okey Uzoho, Mrs. Comfort C. Ozichukwu, Mr. Regis Uwakwe; Captain David Mbamala [rtd]; Barrister Chukwuemeka Kanu; Mrs. Ugochi Nnanna Okoro; Dr. Gloria Chukwukere and Chief Chris Njoku told newsmen in Abuja yesterday that they were unlawfully excluded from vying for various national positions.

The aggrieved party men bemoaned that though they bought their nomination forms and submitted same before the closing date for the return of nomination forms, to their dismay, the party refused to accept their forms citing late submission


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