• We all agreed to hold the convention in Port Harcourt- Saraki •I’m comfortable with Port Harcourt- Atiku •3,619 delegates expected
By Adedayo Akinwale and Palvin Namero in Abuja
After weeks of uncertainty over the convention venue, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at its 82nd meeting unanimously agreed to hold its 2018 national convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.
This is as the party condemned President Muhammadu Buhari for congratulating the All Progressives Congress (APC’s) candidate, Adegboyega Oyetola in the discredited Osun State governorship election, , saying it had shown that the Presidency was behind the electoral manipulations, outright rigging and bloodletting that marred the process.
The emergency NEC meeting held at the party secretariat yesterday in Abuja may not be unconnected with the recent outburst of the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike and the continued controversy over the convention venue.
Wike had on Wednesday dared the party when he said there would be consequences if the party moved the national convention away from Port Harcourt.
He had said that “nobody should dare Rivers State any longer. Enough is enough. PDP should know that we are not a punching bag. We are not a people you can use and push. We are not harlots — whenever you want, you come, when you finish, you push us aside.
“Let me warn the party. If you dare, Rivers State will teach the party a lesson. Those days have passed when they took Rivers State for granted. Nobody can use and dump Rivers State.”
It was gathered that the leadership of the party who felt uncomfortable with Wike’s outburst pushed for his sanction.
However, the governor who was equally present at the meeting was said to have apologised to the party.
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Wali Jibrin had revealed on Monday that the venue of the convention remained a contentious issue.
Briefing the journalists after the meeting, however, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said that the NEC had unanimously agreed that the national convention of the party would hold in Port Harcourt , Rivers State.
The meeting which lasted for four hours also saw the NEC approving the budget for the 2018 national convention, saying that 3,619 delegates were expected. The party was however silent on the cost implication of the convention.
Ologbondiyan stated: “The NEC further resolved that we will be committing all our presidential aspirants to a bond on the outcome of the election. What this translates into is that all our aspirants will sign agreement with our party in other to ensure that the outcome if the national convention which the party has promised to be transparent, free, fair and acceptable to Nigerians must be accepted by all our aspirants.”
He said that the aspirants had been assured of a transparent process of the national convention, stressing that the aspirants also collectively assured the party that their fears over the Port Harcourt convention had been allayed by the party.
Ologbondiyan stressed, “Aspirants also resolved that they have confidence in the leadership of the party and the leadership of the convention committee. The convention will take place between 6th and 7th and 3,619 delegates are expected including statutory delegates.”
In its resolution however, the NEC condemned the process of the Osun State governorship election as most fraudulent and completely unacceptable.
It also lamented the collusion of the All Progressives Congress (APC), security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to subvert the electoral process.
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, while fielding questions from journalists after the emergency meeting, said that the NEC as well as all the presidential aspirants had all agreed to hold the convention in Port Harcourt.
According to him, “Some of the issues that we are having before which were reported in papers were discussed that. Everybody decided that we should stay with the party. Where temper were flared, people apologize and everybody felt yes there was a commitment to assure everybody that there will be free and fair primaries. So today is being a very good day.”
Meanwhile, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar said that it was not true that he was against the choice of Port Harcourt as the convention venue.
He stated: “It is not true because Port Harcourt is my second home. I don’t need accommodation in Port Harcourt. I don’t need security so it is not true. I am comfortable.”
Also, the Governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Fayose said that the meeting was successful, adding that all grey issues were resolved.
He stressed that most popular among these grey issues was the venue of the convention which he said was successfully resolved.
He said, “We have taken a position that the convention will hold at Port-Harcourt Rivers state. Beyond this, there were assurances of free, fair election and that the aspirants will accept the outcome of the result.”
Those present at the emergency meeting include: Governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Peter Fayose; Delta state governor Infeanyi Okowa; Senate President Bukola Saraki; Speaker Yakubu Dogara; Rivers state governor Nyesom Wike; former vice President Atiku Abubakar; Governor of Sokoto State Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; the Governor of Akwa Ibom, Udom Emmanuel; BOT Chairman Wali Jibrin amongst others
Earlier, Ologbondiyan in a statement on the Osun election said that every well-meaning Nigerian and the world expected President Buhari, as the father of the nation, whose duty it was, to protect all, to condemn this wicked, mean and malevolent act orchestrated by the APC in this election, but he could not find a place in his heart to do so.
According to him, “Nothing can be more reprehensive that while the entire world is condemning the process and the blood of the innocent that were maimed by APC thugs is yet to dry on the streets of Osun state, the Presidency and the APC are busy celebrating a stolen mandate.”
Ologbondiyan said it was outrageous the President condoned the electoral manipulations, impunity and violence in the election and merely asked that those aggrieved by the unlawful acts of his party should go to court?
He said that President Buhari was aware that this election was won genuinely by the candidate of the PDP, Senator Ademola Adeleke, yet he approved the stealing of the mandate and had no soothing words for the victims of his party’s violent atrocities in Osun State.
The PDP said the Buhari Presidency and the APC had in Osun election, again, demonstrated insensitivity and desperation for power, for which they have little or no value for the lives of Nigerians.
The PDP therefore cautioned the Presidency and the APC to note that there is a limit Nigerians can tolerate, especially as we march towards the 2019 general election.
“They should know their actions have become abhorrent to Nigerians and our citizens are now, more than ever before, ready to resist their brigandage, come 2019.”