â€¢ Over 2,800 delegates expected
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
With scores of aspirants preparing to do battle on December 9 for the national executive posts of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at its national convention slated for Abuja, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP Thursday failed to reach a decision on who will head the planning committee to organise the convention.
The national publicity secretary of the party, Mr. Dayo Adeyeye, who addressed journalists at the end of the meeting, said NEC only approved the composition of the convention planning committee.
Adeyeye, however, failed to name the chairman of the committee, saying that the name of its members will be published soon.
THISDAY, however, gathered from a source at the meeting that the issue of the chairman of the convention was still undecided due to concerns over the neutrality of the person that had been proposed by the National Caretaker Committee (NCC).
According to the source, the caretaker committee had proposed the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, as chairman while the Governor of Gombe Ibrahim Dakwambo was tipped to assist him as vice-chairman.
In his briefing on the outcome of the meeting, Adeyeye said NEC admonished all the aspirants to be civil to each other and to avoid foul language in their criticism of each other.
He said about 2,800 delegates would be attending the convention, though the number might increase after the conclusion of congresses in Osun State.
He also said that NEC warned that they should not disparage the integrity of the leadership of the party which was working assiduously to provide a level-playing field for everyone.
â€œWe are going to organise the most credible party election in the history of Nigeria. And we are happy that what is going on right now has never happened in the history of this country â€“ to see people who are aspiring to party offices, campaigning as if they want to become president,” he said.
According to Adeyeye, this was indicative of the fact that Nigerians still believed in the PDP to provide the alternative platform in 2019.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu also cautioned the contestants vying for various positions at the forthcoming convention to learn from the fate of those with disruptive tendencies and refrain from destroying the party should they lose.
Ekweremadu cited an example of a politician whom he did not name, but said the politician had disrupted the outcome of a particular amendment in the Senate and was now languishing in exile.
Ekwerenmadu said if the PDP could hold a hitch-free convention, it would win the 2019 general election.
â€œIf we get it right, we will win the 2019 election,â€ he said.
He commended the contestants for the mature manner they had been going about their campaigns and urged them to continue with the use of decent language in the conduct of their campaigns.
While urging the contestants to accept the result of the convention, he tasked members of the caretaker committee to ensure that the convention was credible, free and fair.
Earlier, while welcoming the NEC members, the caretaker committee chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, said the leadership had taken no offence in all the issues that arose while the aspirants canvassed for votes across the country.
The former Kaduna State governor said the 77th NEC might be his valedictory meeting and pleaded with party members to show unity and solidarity as they prepare for the convention.
He noted that the publicity from the campaigns were good for the PDP, adding that the members should allow unity to prevail, as there would be a lot to gain even if it may not be immediate.
â€œUnited we stand, divided we fall; there is a lot to gain in unity. PDP is like Nigeria, it is a diverse party, whatever you donâ€™t get today, you can get it tomorrow,â€ Makarfi said.
He stated that the NCC had held meetings with the state chapter chairmen, adding that it would continue to consult with the various organs to foster better understanding among party stakeholders.
He urged the state chairmen of the PDP to meet the national organising secretary of the party to have a second look at the delegatesâ€™ list, adding that the list would be available for scrutiny by those with a bona fide interest.
According to Makarfi, the PDP state chairmen are those who conducted the elections for the delegates and not the panels as erroneously bandied by some members of the party.
On his part, the chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jubrin, debunked the report that the board had disqualified three chairmanship aspirants, adding that there was no truth in the information as he was away in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), when he heard of it.