• PDP’ll sack Buhari by 2019 say Ekweremadu, Iwuanyanwu • South-west officers elected, despite court order • Ogidi emerges South-south zonal chairman, Sango Plateau chairman
Wole Ayodele in Jalingo, Christopher Isiguzo and Patrick Egwu in Enugu, James Sowole in Akure, Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt, Seriki Adinoyi in Jos and Olakiitan Victor in Ado Ekiti
The North-east zone of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has endorsed the acting chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as its candidate for the position of National Chairman of the party at its forthcoming national convention slated for Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
Senator Sheriff’s endorsement was announced at the zonal congress of the party held yesterday at the Jolly Nyame Stadium in Jalingo which had in attendance the two governors of the party in the zone, Darius Ishaku of Taraba and Dankwabo of Gombe states.
In the same vein, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Cameroon, Amb. Emmanuel Njiwah was elected as the party’s vice chairman for the zone along with other officials of the party.
Addressing the delegates after his endorsement, Sheriff noted that, having the tag of the party put in his hands by the zone, he cannot afford to fail them.
Sheriff, who was roundly hailed by all the delegates and stakeholders present on the occasion promised not to disappoint them just as he assured that he would do more for the party than he is doing now if given the mandate to lead the party.
He also used the occasion to tender an unreserved apology to leaders of the party over insulting statements credited to some of his aides and political associates. The chairman, who was visibly elated by the support he got the zone said he did not ask anybody to insult people on his behalf just as he stated that the party needs to be more united than before.
Speaking further, he said “I don’t want to preside over a divided house but a united one. We need unity more than ever before. We need every man and woman to confront APC if we must regain power in 2019. I don’t want a division again in the party because it was division among the leaders and some followers that cost us victory in 2015”.
He thanked governors Ishaku and Dankwambo for their support just as he praised him for being a wonderful host saying the event was one of the best organised congresses he has attended.
Also, the South-east Zonal Congress of the PDP was held yesterday in Enugu even as notable party leaders including Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd) expressed optimism that the party will reclaim the presidency from the All Progressives Congress (APC) by 2019.
This came as delegates from the five states of the zone elected officers to pilot the affairs of the party in the zone for the next four years with the younger brother of Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi state, Chief Austin Umahi and Hon. Casmir Ugwu emerging as National Vice chairman, South-east zone and Zonal Secretary respectively.
The exercise as however almost marred midway when attempts to prevail on a former Zonal Publicity Secretary of the party and a security aide to Governor Umahi, Ali Odega from going ahead with his aspiration for the party National Vice chairmanship resulted in near fisticuffs with security men at Michael Okpara Square, venue of the congress.
The situation was later brought under control by Ekweremadu who insisted that all those who bought form should be allowed to take part in the congress. Odefa later staged a walk-out from the square, even as he polled a paltry three votes as against Umahi who polled 255 votes.
Earlier while addressing the delegates, Ekweremadu said the PDP would give Nigerians credible and vibrant opposition to the ruling party, noting that “we’ll not engage in credible, vibrant opposition; it will not be an irresponsible opposition. We will oppose democratically and provide alternatives.”
On his part, Iwuanyanwu said Nigerians have been given the opportunity to try another party, noting that with just one year into the administration of the APC, the people are already asking PDP to return.
Other speakers including outgoing National Vice chairman, Akobundu, former chairman of NDDC, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, former governor of Ebonyi state, Senator Sam Egwu, Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Cecilia Ezeilo, and Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Chuchu Onyema expressed hope that the party would certainly put its acts together preparatory to taking over the nation’s presidency.
Meanwhile, despite a court order, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-west geo-political zone yesterday held its zonal congress in Akure, the Ondo state capital, where zonal officers were elected.
The zonal congress was held against the Federal High Court, Abuja, which ordered that the congress should not hold. The leadership of the party in the zone had denied receiving any court order.
At the congress, where officers were elected on consensus except for the position of treasurer that was contested for by two people from Ekiti State, the former Commissioner for Information in Ondo state, Hon. Eddy Olorogun Olafeso was elected the zonal chairman of the party.
Also elected at the congress, attended by the Governor of Ondo state, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and his Ekiti state counterpart, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, were the Zonal Secretary, Rev. Bunmi Jenyo (Osun), Organising Secretary, Hon. Wasiu Bankene (Ogun), Youths Leader, Hon. Femi Adetola (Oyo) and Women Leader, Mrs. Ajigbeda (Ogun).
Others are the zonal Publicity Secretary, Hon. Abiola Makinde (Ondo) Financial Secretary Chief Aifoji, Auditor, Hon. Biliaminu Ogundele (Oyo), Treasurer, Mr. Adeola Ogunrinde (Ekiti), and the Legal Adviser, Mr. Sunday Ojo-Williams (Osun).
The officers were elected according to the zoning arrangement adopted by the leaders of the zone. In case of the position of treasurer that was contested by two people from Ekiti, Ogunrinde who was the candidate of Governor Fayose, had 62 votes, while Kolawole had 12 votes.
Speaking at the event, Mimiko, who is the Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, called for unity among all members of the party. He said the future of the country is in the hands of the PDP, noting that the PDP would determine the future of the PDP.
In the same vein, Fayose stressed the need for unity among members of the party in the South-west, just as he called on all members to work towards the victory of the party in the 2019 presidential election.
He denied insinuation that he was working against the interest the elderly people in the party, saying that “I love our elderly people, but the elders should play the roles of advisers and allow the young generation to take over. This is in line with my stand against Buhari who is too old to rule Nigeria.”
Fayose stressed that any other zonal congress aside the one held in Akure was illegal, adding that members of the party who fail to recognise the Akure congress are enemies of the party. He appealed to the judiciary to be wary of those who only wish to win elections through the court and not through election.
The new officers were sworn in by the congress Chairman, Dr. Celestine Omeha., who urged the new leaders to work for the progress of the party in their different capacities.
Meanwhile, the South-south zone of the PDP yesterday unanimously elected Elder Emmanuel Ogidi from Delta State as the new national vice chairman of the party.
Ogidi, a former chairman of the party in Delta, was elected yesterday at the zonal congress of the party held at Obi Wali International Convention Centre, Port Harcourt.
Other officers include former Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Boyelayefa Debekeme, who was elected zonal secretary; Mr. Akanjor Ibok from Cross River as organising secretary; Bishop Etim Andy from Akwa Ibom as publicity secretary; George Brown from Bayelsa as legal adviser and Mrs. Justina Emereji from Rivers as treasurer.
Addressing journalists shortly after the election, Ogidi said he would work hard to unite the party ahead of the 2019 elections.
In a goodwill message on behalf of governors of the South-south states, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, described the South-south geopolitical zone as the home of the PDP.
Wike stated that PDP governors on the zone would ensure that the party retains its leading position in the zone on subsequent elections, adding that the governors have resolved to give members of the party in Edo State the required support to win the governorship election in September.
Also, in a goodwill message on behalf of members of the National Assembly from the zone, the Senate minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio urged members of PDP in the zone to use the zonal congress and the forthcoming national convention to correct the mistakes of the past.
Furthermore, former deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu and former Governor of Plateau State, Senator Jonah David Jang, have hailed the emergence of former Sport Minister, Hon. Damishi Sango as the new Chairman of the PDP in Plateau state.
Mantu, who granted press interview in Jos, said the congress has again given the PDP the opportunity to purge itself and reposition self in Plateau. “I do hope that the processes that brought us this far were free and fair. If the processes were free and fair, then we are on our way to victory in the state, but if the reverse is the case then it will further sink us deeper.”
He said, “As I talk to you today, PDP still enjoys the highest number of support in Nigeria, even in Plateau. APC only won because some PDP members voted for APC for some reasons in the last election. We are now saying we understand the reasons; and that they should come back home.”
He said the process of the congress election was tedious but meticulous, adding that “this is an in-house contest; the PDP has an internal mechanism of resolving its differences.”
Jang said “The emergence of new PDP leadership in Plateau State under the Chairmanship of Hon. Damishi Sango signals the beginning of a new vista in the political history of the state.
In a press statement signed by his aide, Mr. Clinton Garuba, Jang noted that the mistakes of the past are being corrected and the party strengthened ahead of the 2019 elections.
“The onus is now on the new leadership to unite all divergent views, ensure cohesion and bring together all those who have left and were at the verge of leaving for the sole aim of regaining the lost glory of the party arising from the events of the recent past.”