By Chibuzo Ukaibe, Abuja
The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the race for national chairmanship of the party is taking a turn for the worse as threats of parallel national conventions have been muted in some quarters of the party.
Party sources told LEADERSHIP yesterday that some party stakeholders seem to be displeased with what they consider moves to impose a candidate as national chairman at the December 9 national convention.
The sources noted that the aggrieved party members are miffed over moves by some governors to force a candidate on the party, much like they did with the recently sacked national chairman of the party, Sen Ali Modu Sheriff.
Our correspondent further learnt that some serving governors who are also not comfortable with the last outing that almost crumbled the party are ready to give tacit support for the protest against the convention.
One of the party sources who did not want to be named in print said, “You must have been seeing the uproar that is building over unbridled moves to impose a candidate on the party, regardless of the protests by many stakeholders. Aspirants for chairmanship of the party have filed petitions.
“Many angry party members are waiting to see what the party leadership will do over this matter. We can’t allow persons who plunged the party into crisis barely two years ago repeat the same thing this time around”.
Another source who confided in LEADERSHIP said, “Already, some party leaders are muting the option of holding a parallel convention just like the one which forced the removal of Sheriff”.
Some members of the party had in May last year conducted a parallel national convention in Abuja in protest against moves by some governors to impose Sheriff on the party at another convention in Port Harcourt.
Meanwhile, the national leadership of the PDP yesterday said it is not aware that chairman of the National Caretaker Committee (NCC), Sen Ahmed Makarfi, has a presidential ambition in 2019.
The national caretaker committee of the party also denied taking nominations from any aspirant to serve as members in committees for ward congress as alleged by some other aspirants.
National publicity secretary of the PDP , Prince Dayo Adeyeye, while briefing the press yesterday denied that the national caretaker committee took nominations from any aspirant to serve as members in committees for ward congress.
He also opened up on why it lost the recent Anambra State governorship election, declaring that their own members who voted for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) sabotaged them.
Two chairmanship aspirants, former minister of education Prof Tunde Adeniran and former deputy national chairman of PDP, Chief Bode George, had accused the Makarfi-led PDP of bias against former acting national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.
Similarly, the Senator representing Ogun East senatorial district, Buruji Kashamu, also accused Makarfi of being bias in the conduct of the forthcoming congress because of his 2019 presidential ambition.
Reacting to the alleged presidential ambition of Makarfi, Adeyeye said, “As for the issue of whether Senator Makarfi has presidential ambition or not, we are not aware of that. The national caretaker committee is not aware of that and we have not opened the floodgate for people to begin to aspire for position of the president. INEC has not even released timetable.
“I don’t know if they have released any timetable for the presidential election. We in the PDP are concerned now about putting in place a new leadership for the party, which we hope, will come up or emerge latest by December 9 or 10. That is our preoccupation at the national caretaker committee”.
He further denied that the membership of committees supervising the congresses in respective states were nominations from aspirants.
Noting that the committee was constituted from states and other organs of the party, he said, “We wish to remind all that it’s the state chapters that actually conduct congresses. The committees only compile the results and attend to appeals after which they file their reports to the party headquarters.
“When all reports are filed by the committees, we shall summon the states chairmen to come with their copies and reconfirm the results at a date to be fixed and all bonafide interest groups will be welcomed to witness it. This is to reassure everybody that validly elected delegates list is not tampered with.
“Commenting specifically on the issues raised by Chief Bode George through his Director-General and Prof. Tunde Adeniran, we wish to state that Chief Bode George assertions were wild and not specific”.
Adeyeye continued: “However, Prof. Adeniran’s letter specifically mentioned 5 names out of about 216 names. While assuring him that we shall pay special attention to the places they were posted to, we did not and could not interview the members to know their linings before calling on them to serve. It is most likely that some of the remaining 211 members are aligned to some other persons seeking elective offices, including himself and Chief Bode George.
“It pains us that on the one hand Chief Bode George, who is fully aware of the pains we are still going through in Lagos in order to fairly and equitably carry everybody on board to the extent that we are been accused by others as siding with him, is the same person accusing us of impunity.
“On the preparations for the convention, we have asked chairmanship aspirants to make input so that they have their eyes and ears in each committee. It was only Chief Bode George that did not attend the meeting we had with the aspirants”.
The PDP spokesman added that the party’s leadership cannot enforce the peace accord entered into by the national chairmanship aspirants.
He however expressed frustration over the party’s inability to further sanction Sen Kashamu over the recent spate of remarks he has made against the leadership of the party.
Dispelling insinuations that Kashamu is bigger than the party, Adeyeye wondered how the lawmaker secured a court injunction stopping the party from disciplining him.
He said, “Kashamu is not bigger than the party. The party will take a decision at the appropriate time on sen Kashamu. It may take long but justice will be done”.
On why they lost Anambra State, the PDP spokesman lamented: “We do agree that the Anambra issue is a self-inflicted injury which has been with the state since after the 2003 general elections.
“Irrespective of the perfections or imperfections of our party primaries and the outcome, PDP Anambrarians had developed conflicting mindsets. We did our best to bring all under one caretaker committee hoping that things will work out well.
“Here, we need to remind PDP members and Nigerians that it was Sen. Kashamu and those he was bankrolling that conducted parallel congresses in Edo and Ondo States. They did not stop there but took us up to Supreme Court and in the end openly endorsed and campaigned for our opponents. Their actions made us to lose the elections.
I Am Not Makarfi’s Candidate – Secondus
A PDP chairmanship aspirant, Prince Uche Secondus, yesterday said he is not the candidate of the chairman of the party’s national caretaker committee, Sen Ahmed Makarfi.
This comes as former Minister of Women Affairs and a contender for deputy national chairman, Hajia Inna Ciroma, warned that the party cannot afford to get it wrong at the forthcoming national convention.
She added that the North rejected PDP in 2015 because it abandoned zoning principle, noting however that the party has learnt its lesson ahead of 2019.
Secondus who spoke at the party national secretariat in Abuja, after submitting his nomination form, also stressed that at no time was the national chairmanship position micro-zoned to South West geo-political zone by stakeholders from the zone.
He noted that the position was zoned to the 17 states in the South, same way presidential ticket of the PDP for 2019 polls was zoned to the 19 states in the North, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He further clarified that he didn’t bother to contest for national chairman at the botched national convention last year in Port Harcourt because party leaders from the South micro-zoned it to the Southwest.
Reacting to claims that he enjoys Makarfi’s support, Secondus, who was a former deputy national chairman of the party, said “Makarfi is not paving way for my emergence. There is no truth to that statement. I have been going round quietly and canvassing for votes. I have not held any meeting with Makarfi and he has not endorsed me. There was no time that the office (national chairmanship) was micro zoned.
“The office of national chairman is zoned to 17 Southern states of the federation and president zoned to 19 Northern states. Let’s not dwell on misinterpretation; aspirants know this unless they want to be mischievous,” he added.
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