PDP to Pick Presidential, Other Candidate through Direct Primaries

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Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

Ahead of its national convention, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said it was planning to amend its constitution to provide for the emergence of all it’s candidates for elective offices through direct primary election.

On its silence over national issues, the party said it had decided to temporarily stay off from criticism so the ruling party could devote energies to putting its house in order.

Speaking during a meeting with the former National chairman of the opposition party in Ghana, the New Patriotic Party, Peter Mac Manu, the PDP Spokesman, Chief Olisa Metuh said that as part of the reforms taking place in the party, the leadership had proposed a constitutional amendment to allow its candidates for the 2019 general elections to be selected by the people at the grassroots level.

“We intend to elect our presidential candidate starting from ward level. We are going to apply Option A4 in electing our presidential candidates, means it is not going to be restricted to presidential election but others like governorship, senatorial, House of Representatives and all, everybody would be elected from the ward level,” he said.

The proposed amendment which Metuh said had already been sent to state chapters of the party nationwide would have members line up to vote for the candidates of their choice in a manner similar to the pattern popularly known as ‘Option A’.

Metuh said, “People would have to queue up behind the candidates of their choice. This proposed amendment has been sent to the state chapters for their inputs in line with our desire to have people’s opinion.

“PDP is changing and in the convention we would present it for people to vote. We are going to change our system to be that our presidential candidate would be voted for by all party members in the country. It would be done at the ward level, we would no longer elect presidential candidate at the national convention.

“It would now be for every party member to vote for whoever would be our presidential candidate. Whoever would vie for our presidential ticket would have to tour the entire country before he can be elected. This is part of the reform we are coming up with. Basically, this would be the last convention where we would have people to be elected at the national convention. We are taking the party back to the Nigerian people,” he said.

He said that the amendment was part of the reforms that was contained in the Ike Ekweremadu’s committee recommendation.

Metuh also lamented that as the opposition party, PDP was presently faced with various challenges ranging from persecution and defection by members into the ruling party, adding that the leadership was working hard to reposition things and to ensure that the next convention brought about a new lease of life to the party.

“Some people defect because they are hungry, that they are not well treated, while others defect because they want to be part of the cake from the ruling government or the party in power. Whereas, others also defect because they are afraid of prosecution in the belief that once they belong to the ruling party, they are safe from all manner of embarrassments,” he added.

On his part, the Ghanaian opposition party chieftain said that the PDP had a lesson to learn from his party’s experience, especially in the area of restructuring and rebranding.

“When we lost election, there was need to review and make amends and these amends led to some critical reforms in the party structure and organisation.

We realised for example, that the modus operandi of how our presidential candidate was elected had a hand in why we lost the general election. There are as many as 17 presidential candidates.

“When the then president, John Kufor was given the party ticket at that time, about 17 presidential candidates were running for votes from a mere 3,500 delegates. So, it was money, money, money until the day of congress. And we realised that the opposition party, which is now in government, used that against us and cast us as being corrupt, that we were throwing money at the people.

“So, the first thing I did as the national chairman of the party was to expand the delegates system to cover the nooks and cranny of the party structure. So, the party structure was reorganised to start from the polling unit level where a five member executive were elected,” he said.