• Denies existence of ‘unity list’, hands over to Secondus
• Jonathan moves to pacify aggrieved PDP aspirants
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The former chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmed Makarfi, has spoken on the possible reason for the loss of the chairmanship aspirants from the South-west at the party’s national convention.
Five candidates from the region had withdrawn from the chairmanship race and adopted Prof. Tunde Adeniran as their consensus candidate.
Adeniran later emerged second in the exercise with 231 votes, far behind the 2,000 votes garnered by Uche Secondus, the new chairman.
Speaking on Channels TV Monday, Makarfi said the South-west never had a true consensus candidate for the chairmanship position.
He also said a “damaging campaign” engineered by an unnamed individual rubbed off negatively on the region.
“For the South-west, it was at the convention venue that they resolved on a consensus candidate. And even then, another candidate came to the state box and met the leaders and said, look they never resolved and that he was still in the race. So, it was total confusion,” he said.
“Somebody signs on behalf of other candidates and says ‘we now have a consensus candidate and please support him’, and another goes round saying, ‘no, we don’t have a consensus candidate’.”
He, however, did not divulge who that individual was.
“The whole issue of the South-west was its inability to put itself in order in good time. And then allowing some characters that could not stand up in terms of credibility to occupy the political and media landscape,” Makarfi said.
“And we cautioned them that that negative campaign by one individual was damaging them as a people and members of the PDP, and they needed to call that person to order. Still, they never called him to order. And as far as I know, 90 per cent of PDP members that person comes to will run away.”
Makarfi also denied the allegation that the convention was marred by a “unity list”.
The said list featured names of individuals and their respective positions who were favoured by an influential bloc of the party.
All positions on the list later corresponded with the list of successful candidates announced.
But Makarfi insisted that “nobody foisted anything like a unity list on the delegates”.
He said: “Nobody had a list going to the polling unit. Every delegate had his ballot paper and at each polling unit, names of those standing for the election were there. And delegates looked at that and made their choice.
“In politics, you also have consensus building. Even before the convention, you had geopolitical zones and states endorsing candidates.
“So, if a zone was endorsing a particular candidate, they must have consulted with their delegates, so they must have arrived at that venue with a decision as to who to vote for.
“Before the convention, people were going round and campaigning and some states changed their mind. So the issue of any particular list may be an issue of a state or zone which had come to a decision that this was where we were going.”
Secondus Takes Over
Also on Monday, the new national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, formally took over the reins of office from Makarfi.
Speaking shortly after receiving the hand over notes from Makarfi, Secondus said the youths were going to be the new vanguard to make sure that the party takes over all the polling booths in the country in the next election.
While commenting on the achievements of the Makarfi-led caretaker committee, the new chairman said Makarfi and his team were chosen by God to deliver PDP from the brink during its most trying moments.
He described Makarfi as a hero of the modern PDP whom God used to redeem the party.
He also described the secretary of the caretaker committee, Senator Ben Obi, as a very humble man who performed his job creditably.
Secondus also praised the spokesman of the caretaker committee, Dayo Adeyeye, for being proactive and always being truthful in his messages, rather than dishing out propaganda, as was the case with the All Progressives Congress (APC).
On the ill feelings expressed by some of the aspirants with respect to the convention, Secondus said: “The election has come and gone and there is no victor, no vanquished.”
Secondus assured those present that the new executive will embark on full reconciliation as a first responsibility.
“We promise you to rebuild our party, to reposition our party and that will start today. We intend to hit the ground running,” he said.
He said the gate of the PDP had been thrown open, adding that there will no longer be any barrier for those who want to join the party, including all those who left the party in the past due to grievances.
The new chairman of the opposition party said that reconciliation efforts had started, adding that it was going to remain focused on its set targets and will not be distracted by the ruling APC.
On the strategy PDP will adopt to take on the APC in the run-up to 2019 elections, Secondus said every effort will be directed at making the public aware that the ruling party is operating a broken government which has nothing to offer Nigerians.
He said Nigerian youths will be given a special place in the party and will be mobilised to carry the message to the grassroots, “the same applies to women”, whom he said will be empowered to play a key role in the affairs of the party.
He said going forward the state chapters of the PDP will be empowered to carry on their duties and to respond adequately to national issues.
“We will make sure that there is no more imposition and that the era of impunity is over. There will be no more impunity. The old order has gone and the new order of discipline is in place and we are going to try as much as possible to ensure zero tolerance for corruption,” he said.
He added that the powers of the central leadership of the party were going to be decentralised to enable the local chapters of the party to handle certain issues independently, including discipline and reconciliation efforts.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Makarfi expressed satisfaction with the assemblage of party stalwarts who came to witness the take-off of the new national executive of the party.
On the perception that one section of the country (the South-west) had been edged out during the convention, Makarfi said that was not the case.
“No part of the country should feel that they have been left out of the party just because it did not get certain positions.
“There are several things to gain when the party returns to government and everyone will definitely get a fair share of it,” he said.
To add colour to the event, the publicity department of the PDP had said the new chairman will be received at the entrance of the national secretariat along with other newly elected officers and party leaders.
Makarfi and his colleagues in the outgone caretaker committee were given a standing ovation when they formally pulled out from office Monday.
Meanwhile, in a bid to pacify and rally support for the newly elected National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, former President Goodluck Jonathan Monday visited one of the candidates for the post of national publicity secretary of the party, Prof. Abubakar Olanrewaju Sulaiman.
While praising the candidate for his doggedness and passion for the party, he pleaded with him to accept the outcome of the election as the wish of God.
“Prof, you did well and members of our party know you are the best among the competitors. Put the events of last night behind you and move on,” Jonathan said.
Jonathan also appealed to Sulaiman to let go of whatever might have transpired and support the new exco of the party.
“We appeal that you all give the new exco some benefit of the doubt and see how things work out. If we fail to support them, then we are not helping the party,” the former president stressed.
In his response, Sulaiman thanked the former president whom he fondly referred to as his boss, describing him as a “consummate leader, worthy of emulation” and assured him that he will take to his wise advice.
“My boss, President Goodluck Jonathan, I sincerely thank you for the visit and your compassionate posture. Sir, indeed you are a consummate leader worthy of emulation.
“You have indeed inspired me more and I promise I would take your advice,” Sulaiman said.
He further added that nobody or group of persons could intimidate them out of the party.
“The party is ours and nobody or group of people can intimidate us out of the party,” Sulaiman affirmed.
In the former president’s entourage were his former minister, Mr. Tanimu Turaki, and the Obanema of Opume Kingdom in Bayelsa State, King A.J. Turner King, among others.