- Â Party to ratify waivers for new entrants
Iyobosa Uwugiaren and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and James Sowole in Akure
The National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will meet today in Abuja to tie up arrangements for the December 9 national convention of the party.
As part of efforts to ensure a hitch-free convention, the NEC meeting is expected to among other issues consider proposals for waiver for new entrants into the party as well as the final list of delegates for the convention.
Another issue to be considered during the meeting is the proposal for amendment of the partyâ€™s constitution which would be presented to the convention for ratification.
Indications are that one of the governors from the South-south may again head the convention planning committee while he would be assisted by another of his colleagues from the North east states.
The governors being tipped to head the PDP convention planning committee are that of Akwa Ibom and Delta States, although the National Caretaker Committee has also given consideration to demand to pick the chairman from the North in order to ensure fairness since the most contested position of the national chairman has been zoned to the South.
Meanwhile, ahead of the national convention, some of the aspirants contesting for national positions have warned that the party could relapse into crisis if the exercise is not transparent and credible.
They advised the National Caretaker Committee of the party to ensure that best practices are put in places to usher in a new national leadership that will stir the party to victory in 2019.
The aspirants who spoke while submitting their nomination forms at the national secretariat of the PDP, underscored the need for the Makarfi-led NCC to listen to genuine complaints and advice from stakeholders.
One of the aspirants for the post of National Secretary Nenadi Usman, asked the party to provide level playing field for all candidates during the convention.
She described the election that would take place at the convention as an in-house contest, adding that so long as there is level playing ground, people will accept to work together and build the party in readiness for 2019 poll.
The former finance minister recalled that the PDP lost the 2015 general election because of in-house problems, noting that they must strive to settle any dispute ahead of the 2019 election.
Answering questions about her capabilities, Usman who said she has the requisite qualification and pedigree for the office, noted that being a woman would not be stumbling block to her ambition of emerging the partyâ€™s national secretary.
Another aspirant for the national chairmanship position of the party, who was a former minister, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, was rather very worried about the likely consequences of bungling the convention.
He warned that if the South-west does not produce the next national chairman of the party, it will not augur well for the party.
Adedoja, however, distanced himself from any plans to hold a parallel convention, stating: â€œl am not aware of parallel convention. Any other arrangement outside what we are doing now, I am not a part of it.â€
Former governorship aspirant in Lagos State and aspirant for deputy national women leader, Chief Remi Adiukwu, said one way the party could achieve level playing field for all aspirants is to ensure that delegates cast their vote in secret ballot.â€
She however praised the Makarfi team on their conduct ahead of the convention, noting: â€œThey have tried their best. So far, they have not shown any interest in any aspirant.â€
Also, one of the partyâ€™s aspirants for the position of the national chairman, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, yesterday said there was a possibility for the South-west to produce a consensus candidate among those jostling for the position.
Adeniran, who is a former Minister of Education, stated this in Akure, Ondo State capital, while addressing the state delegates to the national convention of the party slated for December 9.
The aspirant said all the aspirants from the South-west are discussing.
Adeniran, Prof. Adedoja, Chief Bode George and Otunba Gbenga Daniel are contesting for the chairmanship of the party from the South-west.
â€œWe are talking among ourselves and I believe one way or the other, we will get it right, I also believe that God will step in,â€ he said.
Adeniran also denied the report that he was being sponsored to contest the election by the senator representing Ogun East senatorial district, Buriji Kashamu. He described the report as a rumour being spread by his political detractors.
â€œWhen they started, they said it was former President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, they later said it was Atiku Abubakar, they also said it was Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. It was all lies. They are doing this to pull me down.
â€œLinking me with Kashamu is an insult, they want to use it to provoke me, I stand for equity and fairness. God knows the people that are telling those lies and I know God will deal with them,â€ Adeniran declared
Reacting on the occasion, the Ondo State chairman of the PDP, Mr. Clement Faboyede, said there was a need for the party to elect better candidate as the national chairman of the party, who will lead the PDP to victory in the 2019 presidential election.
Still on ensuring that there is harmony in the party, one of its founding fathers last night in Abuja warned that the forthcoming national convention might leave the party factionalised again if those who are behind the so-called â€˜â€™unity listâ€™â€™ – selected officials, have their way.
Reminding the partyâ€™s leaders that PDP, which became factionalised after it lost the 2015 presidential election managed to pull through the storm after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee, the party chieftain who spoke with journalists in confidence disclosed that many members of the party were uncomfortable with the â€˜â€™offensive unity list.â€
He warned against the planned imposition of candidates during the convention, saying the idea of having a unity list was an indication that the PDP was still â€˜â€™promoting impunity, lack of internal democracyâ€™â€™ and had not learn from its past mistakes.
He said the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee, Makarfi, had once apologised to members of the party for the impunity that once held sway in the party and pledged that imposition of candidates at conventions and congresses would no longer be allowed in the party.
The PDP leader added: â€œWe expect that the convention will be keenly contested and its outcome not pre-determined. It is better for all the contestants to face the delegates and let the delegates choose their leaders in a free, fair and transparent convention. We should allow the contestants to be elected on their individual merit rather than being handpicked by some godfathers.â€
He added: â€œAll the contestants bought forms and indicated their interests to vie for the different offices. They should be allowed to contest the election in a free, fair and transparent manner to avoid any crisis.â€™â€™
THISDAY gathered that those opposed to the unity list have threatened to leave the party to pursue their political aspirations elsewhere.
â€œWe are making a passionate appeal to all the organs of the party namely, the Board of Trustees (BoT), National Executive Committee (NEC), National Working Committee (NWC) and the PDP Governors Forum to critically look at the unity list because of its potential to destroy our party. The onus is on the party to do the right thing by allowing a level playing field during the convention,â€ he said.
He applauded the various party leaders who spoke against an earlier plot to micro-zone positions and appealed to them to take the same steps against the unity list to save the party from collapse.