By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The National Convention of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), seen as a major acid test for the party’s quest to take over power at the federal level in 2019, opens this morning in Abuja amid optimism.
As at yesterday evening, Abuja was already agog with many of the party’s delegates occupying every available space in hotels.
Although the convention is a non-elective one, it is seen as very critical, since it would not only authorise the extension of the tenure of the National Caretaker Committee, but mark the return of unity to the party.
Speaking yesterday shortly after inspecting the Eagle Square, venue of the convention, the Chairman of the planning committee and Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa said the arrangements had been finalised on all fronts for today’s convention.
The party also said that there was no legal encumbrances to today’s non-elective convention.
It was learnt that some people tried to obtain court order to stop the convention but failed because the court declined to grant them the order.
While speaking on the outcome of the screening exercise conducted on the seven governorship aspirants seeking for the PDP ticket for the Anambra governorship election, the chairman of the panel, Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri said that five of them had scaled the hurdle.
He said that screening committee conducted the assignment with all sense of responsibility and fairness, adding that anyone who is not satisfied may still approach the appeal committee.
The five PDP governorship aspirants that passed the screening hurdle were Ifeanyi Ubah, Senator Stella Odua, Alex Obiogbolu, John Okechukwu Emeka and Lynda Ikpeazu.
Whereas one of the aspirants, Ofordike Akolisa was disqualified for holding dual citizenship, another aspirant, Oseloka Obaze was placed on probation pending the decision of the party’s National Caretaker Committee on his application for waiver, having just moved over from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Earlier yesterday, the Chairman, sub-committee on Publicity of the special convention planning committee, Prince Dayo Adeyeye addressed a pre-convention press conference dismissing a failed move to obtain court injunction stopping the convention.
“The convention is going to hold legally and constitutionally.”
A source in the party however, disclosed that the attempt to stop the convention came from some South West PDP members.
Adeyeye who gave update on preparations for the event, disclosed that the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) would monitor today’s convention.
According to him, over 3,000 delegates will attend the convention, including former members of Ali Modu Sheriff faction.
Adeyeye used the opportunity to compare notes on the performance PDP and that of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), saying that the APC had squandered a lot of goodwill given to it by Nigerians in 2015.
He chronicled the failings of the APC to include inability to protect lives and property of Nigerians, poor economic policies, politisation of fight against corruption and impoverishment of the people.
Adeyeye described charges against the former Minister of Petroleum Resource, Mrs. Deziani Alison-Madueke as wild allegation, and challenged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to go to court if it has any case against her.
“This is not the way to prosecute anti-graft war, go to court if you have any charge against her. It is only the court that can pronounce her guilty.
“If you said you recovered N150 billion, why is Nigeria in recession? What are you doing with recovered loot? APC, propaganda will not save you,” Adeyeye said
Meanwhile, as part of the build- up to today’s convention, the PDP held a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.
The meeting on Friday night considered critical party issues including trying to tidy up grey areas in the resolutions to be presented to delegates.
Addressing journalists after the NEC meeting Adeyeye said that NEC took a number of decisions on may memos that were submitted by the NCC.
For instance there were memos on the status of party executives in Borno, Kwara, Adamawa, Kebbi, Osun and Lagos states
According to him the NEC also received memos on the decision taken by the NCC on the dissolution of the parallel executives in Anambra state.
Also considered by the NEC is the proposal for a three months extension of tenure of the NCC which it referred to the convention for final ratification.
On the nature of disciplinary action to be meted out to airing party members, Adeyeye said that NEC decided that the leadership will go through the internal party processes in dealing with the actions of those who took party to court over the convention.