- Again, former president shuns party
- S’West settles for Bode George as consensus candidate for chairmanship
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked all those predicting doom for the party to have a rethink and come to join the party to rebuild and reposition it into a more formidable, all conquering outfit ahead of the 2019 general election.
The Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin, who made the charge yesterday against the backdrop of last weekend’s outburst by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that the PDP was gasping for breath, said such an assertion existed only in the imagination of those making it.
In a veiled reference to Obasanjo’s dismissal of his former party, Jibrin said contrary to insinuations by some persons, PDP was not by any means gasping for breath, “but is alive and kicking”.
This is just as the South-west chapter of the party settled for a former Deputy National Chairman of PDP as the consensus candidate for the post of national chairman of the party.
Speaking on efforts to resolve the protracted problems of the party, Jibrin said: “Leaders who are talking in newspapers that this party is not alive, the party is alive. It is only in the imagination of those saying that this party is dead and that it will not come back.
“Such people should change their minds. If he comes back to this party, we are ready to receive him.”
While inaugurating an 18-member peace committee headed by Prof. Jerry Gana, the BoT chairman said the party has decided to pursue a political solution as a means of resolving the face-off with its former national chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
According to Jibrin, the Jerry Gana peace committee has seven days to complete its assignment and submit a report to the party.
“We are gathered to inaugurate the special committee of the BoT to reconcile our members. You are aware that the BoT have been meeting with some organs to review the situation in the party. We have therefore decided to set up a special committee with a view to resolving the problem.
“With the calibre of the people we have chosen to represent the BoT, I am very optimistic that the end of this conflict has come and that we shall all come out smiling very soon before our convention.
“We want to thank other groups that have tried and particularly the PDP caucus in the Senate, the party’s caucus in the House of Representatives, our able governors and so many other bodies that have tried their best to resolve this problem.
“We’ve had sleepless nights, trying our best so that the party’s integrity is maintained with reference to the dreams of the our founding fathers. We should not let the PDP to die,” he said.
Jirbin assured that the party would henceforth rely on its constitution, adding that the principle of party supremacy must be uppermost in the minds of party members.
He advised those fuelling the leadership crisis in the party to have a change of heart so that their names will be written in the history of the party.
“We must also agree that this party is supreme, this party is above every one of us. It is above individuals and therefore we must all join hands to ensure that we resolve this matter politically.
“It is on this issue of political consideration that we decide to form this committee. It is an 18-member committee made up of well recognised Nigerians of high integrity that will be able to resolve this problem.
“Even those who believe that there are problems should cool down, so that their names will be written in the history of not only the PDP but Nigeria. With PDP being the greatest and biggest in Africa, we should maintain that position.
“I should also thank the governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Seriake Dickson who is heading a very important committee and has been in Abuja for a very long time trying to resolve this our problem. I want to encourage him and his members to try their best so that we can join hands together with the BoT.
“The BoT is the conscience of this party and I think God will not forgive us if we sit down and do nothing. With all the court cases all over the place, about 15 of them, the way we can bring an end to them is to allow all the aggrieved persons to come together and agree to withdraw all the cases out of the courts and give support to this very important committee that will start work immediately.
“The committee is expected to submit its report to us within seven days to resolve this matter once and for all.
“We want to use this opportunity to clam down our members and to tell them that what is happening is normal in a democracy. After various consultations, efforts are being made to end the crisis. They should remain, resolute and determined, they should not listen to rumors, that this party is gone; it is not gone,” he said.
In his remarks, Jerry Gana assured that his committee was going to work for the return of peace to the PDP.
He urged Senator Sheriff to accept the olive branch being extended to his group and team up with the peace committee so that all the contentious issues will be resolved.
However, PDP’s attempt to woo Obasanjo back to its fold fell on dead ears, as the former president restated yesterday that he was not returning to his former party.
Obasanjo, who spoke to THISDAY through his media aide, Mr. Kehinde Akinyemi, said: “I’m referring you back to the statement issued over the weekend that ‘those who know me (Obasanjo), know that I have publicly announced quitting partisan politics’.”
He said Obasanjo was always firm with his decisions, irrespective of the appeal from the party.
Again recalling the statement at the weekend, Akinyemi quoted the former president as stating if Obasanjo quit the party when it was alive and seemingly united, he wonder why the former president would go back to a divided, factionalised party grasping for breath?
He said: “Mr. THISDAY, those behind the false news that he was sighted at a PDP meeting on Saturday wanted to get Obasanjo annoyed and embarrass him, adding: “Baba has told the world that he has quit partisan politics and that is final.”
Meanwhile, the South-West chapter of the PDP yesterday picked Olabode George, as the consensus candidate for the national chairmanship position.
George was adopted at a meeting held at the Government House, Akure, Ondo State.
Those in attendance were Governors Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo), Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti), Mimiko’s deputy, Lasisi Oluboyo, Fayose’s deputy, Dr. Kolapo Olusola, George, Senator Iyiola Omisore, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, Alhaji Yekini Adeojo, Mrs. Olusola Obada, Chief Shuaibu Oyedokun, Chief Dare Adeleke, Hon. Ladi Adebutu, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, Senator Teslim Folarin and others.
Before George’s adoption, the zonal caucus had zoned the chairmanship position to Lagos and Ogun States.
A six-man committee headed by Adeojo was set up to appeal to other aspirants to support George. The committee is expected to submit its report in 48 hours.
Already, Jimi Agbaje (Lagos), Gbenga Daniel (Ogun) and Adedoja (Oyo) had indicated interest in contesting for the chairmanship post at the party’s convention in Port Harcourt.
The meeting also agreed to zone the position of the deputy national publicity secretary to Oyo/Osun and national treasurer to Ondo/Ekiti.
Mimiko and Fayose spoke glowingly of George’s experience, charisma and loyalty to the party.
To the governors, PDP would be better served if George is elected as the national chairman, adding that it will be the first time a Yoruba man will be elected to lead the party since 1998.