- Imposition of candidates at convention will be counterproductive, says Mark
By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and James Sowole in Akure
Amid protests, and in what appeared as an inconclusive process, the South-west Zone of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday zoned the national chairmanship position of the party to Ogun and Lagos States sub-zone of the region.
The leaders of the zone, who converged on Government House, Akure, Ondo State, for the purpose of zoning national offices earlier expected to be filled by the zone, also decided that the Ekiti and Ondo States should produce the. National Treasurer for the party.
Similarly, the Oyo and Osun States were told to produce a candidate for the position of the National Publicity Secretary.
Though, the meeting was expected to specifically zoned the positions to specific states, the differences that were displayed at the meeting made the zone to set up a six-man committee to decide finally those states that would present candidates for various positions.
The South-west Chairman of the party, Dr Eddy Olafeso, who addressed journalists after the stormy session, said the party leadership would continue to dialogue with aggrieved people.
An aggrieved delegate said if the meeting had been conclusive, there would not be any season to still zone a particular position to two states.
Though the meeting came out with a position, some aspirants for the position of the national chairman, protested at the meeting.
The aspirants are the former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, and former Minister of Sports, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja.
Though Adedoja, from Oyo State, waited till the end of the meeting, he told journalists that the zoning was not binding on him as he would contest for the position irrespective of where it was zoned.
Similarly, Adeniran, from Ekiti State, who spoke though his media aide, Taiwo Akeju, described the meeting as a jamboree that could not achieve any meaningful outcome.
The duo of Adedoja and Adeniran said the leaders of the party should allow all the aspirants to contest for the chairmanship position at the forthcoming convention of the party in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
They alleged that there was a lot of impunity in the party, noting that it was the reason the party was not moving forward.
“Zoning will not work in the issue of the national chairmanship of the PDP, the leaders should allow all those who obtained the forms to contest at the convention. They should allow democracy to work, we want the best candidate to emerge, we don’t want any imposition in this matter. So today’s (Monday) meeting is just a jamboree thing.
“Enough of this impunity in our party, it is because we allow impunity that is why we are where we are today in the PDP, so we enjoined the party leaders to let democracy work. We should not allow impunity to destroy our party completely,” the said.
Prior to the commencement of the meeting, a mild drama ensued as some leaders, including Senator Buruji Kasamu, refused to enter the venue of the meeting.
THISDAY, however gathered that the disagreement ensued when Kasamu insisted that all the delegates he brought for the meeting should be allowed into the venue of the meeting.
It was gathered that two delegates were supposed to be allowed into the meeting.
The grouse of Kasamu and some leaders, including former Secretary to Ekiti State Government (SSG), Ambassador Dare Bejide, was the decision of the conveners of the meeting to prevent the Makanjuola Ogundipe-led factional zonal executive from gaining access to the venue of the meeting.
Others who were prevented from the Banquet Hall of the Governor’s lodge were Chief C.K Awoyelu, former Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Chief Abiodun Aluko; a member of House of Representatives, Hon. Segun Adekoya, factional Chairman of Osun PDP, Chief Adagunodo, and other members of Ogundipe led factional executive.
Consequently, they left the venue of the meeting which was attended by Governor Mimiko of Ondo State, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, Senator Iyiola Omisore, Dr Eddy Olafeso and members of the zonal executive, and convened at a hotel in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
Addressing journalists at the hotel in Akure, Ogundipe said the National Caretaker Committee (NCC) led by Alhaji Ahmed Markafi should not hearken to whatever decision reached at the meeting convened by Mimiko.
Ogundipe described the action of the conveners of the meeting as executive rascality as he and members of his executive were the legally recognised executive of the party at the zone.
According to him, the zonal leadership led by Mimiko should be brought to book as they have violated the constitution of the party by excluding critical stakeholders of the party from the meeting.
Chieftains of the party in attendance were: Mimiko, Fayose, Chief Bode George, Senator Teslim Folarin, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, Omisore, Adedoja, among others.
Meanwhile, ahead of the party’s national convention scheduled to take place in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, next week, former Senate President, David Mark, has cautioned fellow party leaders and members against acts of impunity and attempts to impose candidates on the party.
Mark, according to a statement by his Media Assistant, Mr. Paul Mumeh, gave the warning at a meeting he held with leaders of Benue State chapter of the PDP in his Otukpo country home at the weekend.
According to the statement, Mark advised the leaders of PDP and members to allow the popular will of the people prevail at the scheduled congresses and convention of the party, recalling that the defeat of PDP at the 2015 general election was a self-inflicted injury caused by imposition of candidates and impunity on the part of some leaders.
While urging members of the party to remain steadfast and keep faith with the PDP “as a party of choice,” the former senate president expressed displeasure over the attitudes of some members who choose to defect to other parties as a result of the current challenges facing the party.
He frowned at such acts of inconsistency, saying they neither enhance the sustenance of democratic culture nor promote the integrity and credibility of such politicians.
“If we must uphold the sanctity of democratic culture, we must follow the path of honour like the Democrats and Republicans of the United States of America or the Labour Party or the Conservatives in the United Kingdom who hold on tenaciously to their political ideologies no matter the odds,” Mark said.
The senator vowed that no matter the degree of challenges that might confront PDP, he would never leave the party which had given him several opportunities to contest and win elections since 1999 as he encouraged fellow party members to work hard with a view to repositioning the PDP as a credible opposition.
The statement added that the Chairman of Benue State chapter of the party, Mr. John Ngbede, while briefing Mark earlier, said the party was now united in the state and simultaneously working together as one family but noted that the chapter was challenged by cash crunch, which he said was hindering activities of the party and therefore implored Mark to intervene.