BY CHIBUZO UKAIBE, Abuja –
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday denied giving any concession to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar upon his return to the party.
Chairman of the party’s national caretaker committee, Sen Ahmed Makarfi, stated this during the inauguration of national convention committee of the party.
The convention committee is headed by Delta State governor, Sen Ifeanyi Okowa, with his Taraba State counterpart, Darius Ishaku, as his deputy.
The committee has banned all presidential aspirants in the party from displaying their posters, mobilizing their supporters or campaigning at the convention.
The committee, while stating that an appropriate convention would be held to choose a presidential candidate in future, added that it intends to decongest the convention ground as much as possible on Saturday.
Aside Atiku who is strongly linked to the presidential ticket, Makarfi has also been touted as being interested in flying the party’s flag in 2019.
Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo and former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Baffarwa, are also said to be interested in the race.
Also, former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido; former Kano State governor, Ibrahim Shekarau and the incumbent governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose have formally declared their intention to contest the party’s presidential ticket in 2019.
Noting that PDP did not give Atiku any concession, Makarfi said, “As you must have read, one of the founding fathers of this party, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, declared for the PDP yesterday. He is highly welcome.
“We are expecting more people like him. They might not have been former vice presidents but they are weighty individuals in their own rights. PDP will continue to receive both serving and former this and former that.
“But I also want to correct some media reports out of his return. His Excellency, Waziri Adamawa, did not seek for any special concession. He joined in his own will. And the party did not extend any special concession to anybody other than what is due to him. It is only then that we will accord such people such recognition and status that they deserve.
“He (Atiku) never asked for anything and we never offered anything. Whatever aspirations he or anybody coming to PDP may have, they will be free to pursue them. Other PDP men and women are free to pursue whatever political aspirations they may have”.
He however assured that the party will give a level-playing field for party members to exercise their right to give their mandate to whoever they wish to give to.
The PDP chairman expressed satisfaction with Tuesday’s judgment of the Court of Appeal sitting in Ekiti nullifying the judgment of a High Court, which would have affected the smooth conduct of the December 9 national convention.
He said a particular serving Senator from the South West is behind most of the problems confronting the party.
Makarfi urged all contestants contesting for various offices at the convention to continue to go about their campaign with decorum.
Also speaking, the chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin, declared that the board is ready to partner with the National Working Committee, governors forum and all other stakeholders in the party to ensure the success of the national convention.
He urged the party members to “run away” from acts that may negatively affect the convention.
On the speculation that some BoT members are sponsoring a particular chairmanship candidate, Senator Jibrin declared that the “BoT has no hidden agenda.”
In his response, the chairman of the convention planning committee, Governor Okowa, assured that the “electoral process will be free, fair and credible”.
Speaking earlier, the Taraba State governor, Darius Ishaku, who declared that PDP would return to power in 2019, noted that Nigerians are yearning for it to return to power.
Addressing journalists after a brief meeting of the committee, Okowa, who reiterated that the venue of the convention is the eagle square in Abuja, said the venue has been secured.
He said, “We have had a lot of discussions concerning the need for accreditation, securing the venue and also the electoral process. I want to urge aspirants to the various positions to please keep their campaigners away from the convention venue and we believe all campaigns would have stopped by Friday.
“I will not expect any aspirant, especially presidential aspirants to bring their campaign posters, campaigners, men or women to the venue because it will not be allowed. And we want to appeal to all of them campaigning to desist from doing that.
“For those who want to campaign for future election, possibly the presidential aspirants, this convention is not the place to display campaign posters or to display their intentions. I believe there will be an appropriate convention for that. I want to urge them to cooperate with us as a committee”.
Meanwhile, a group, Arewa PDP Pathfinders, yesterday backed the demand of Northern Elders and Leaders Forum (NELF) for the Southwest to produce the next national chairman of the party.
The coordinator of the group, Hon Abdullahi Ali Kano, who was flanked by Hon Abbas Samuel Elejo (Director mobilization) and Hon Saleh Alhassan Tsiga (secretary), said the proposal for the chairmanship to go to the Southwest is in line with a tradition in the party for positions to be given to ensure inclusivity and equity.
Noting that the region has not occupied the position in the party’s history, Kano stressed that the Northern elders didn’t micro-zone the position, as it was the decision of the party members from the South to make.
Adeniran Demands Removal Of Suswam, Onor, From Electoral Committee
The intrigues playing out in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of Saturday’s national convention scaled up yesterday as an aspirant for the national chairman of the party and former minister of Education, Prof Tunde Adeniran, petitioned the national convention committee over the appointment of former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, as chairman of the electoral committee.
The petition signed by director general of Adeniran’s campaign Organisation, Shehu Gabam, called for the removal of Suswam and his secretary, Sunday Onor, on grounds that they are star campaigners of one of the aspirants, Prince Uche Secondus, a former deputy national chairman of the party.
Adeniran further charged the Ahmed Makarfi-led PDP to publicly release the list of delegates at least seven days before the convention as it had promised.
He further frowned at the exclusion of their nominees in the committees.
The petition was address to the Delta State governor, Sen Ifeanyi Okowa, who is the chairman of the convention committee.
Copies of the petition were also sent to Senator Makarfi and chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Walid Jibrin.