Although former chairman, National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmed Makarfi, insists that the South-west geo-political zone did not lose out in the party in spite of its inability to produce its national chairman, ADEBIYI ADEDAPO writes that the feeling of marginalization by the party is present in the zone.
Following the acrimonious ending of the December 9, 2017 national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), its leaders saw the urgent need to commence efforts at assuaging the feeling of marginalization by members of the South-west zone of the party.
Five aspirants from the region had withdrawn from the race and adopted Prof. Tunde Adeniran as their consensus candidate. Adeniran later emerged second in the exercise with 231 votes behind Uche Secondus who polled 2,000 votes.
But former chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the party, Ahmed Makarfi, identified failure to reach a compromise and agree on consensus candidate for the zone’s woes. He also said a “damaging campaign” engineered by an unnamed individual rubbed off negatively on the region.
“No part of this country should feel they have lost anything. If you don’t get one thing, you will get another thing. What we want is the government, because that is where every part of this country will be adequately accommodated.”
“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, that he was still in the race. So, it was a total confusion,” he said.
According to Markarfi, the whole issue of the South-west was its inability to put itself in order in good time. And then allowing some characters that cannot stand up in terms of credibility to occupy the political and media landscape.
Meanwhile, After two days of closed door meetings with aggrieved chairmanship aspirants and party leaders in the South-west, the Chairman of the PDP Committee on Reconciliation, and Governor of Bayelsa State, Honourable Seriake Dickson, has declared that the committee achieved its mission in the region.
The governor said that the top leaders of the party visited by the committee made clear statements about their commitment to the unity of the party in the South-west.
Special Adviser to Dickson on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, quoted the governor as having made the comment while speaking with journalists shortly after a meeting with a former Governorship Candidate of the party in Lagos, Chief Jimi Agbaje, in Lagos on Friday.
Governor Dickson and other members of the committee had earlier held a closed door meeting with former Deputy National Chairman, South, Chief Olabode George, and other top members of the party in the South-west in Lagos on Thursday night.
PDP scribes present at the meeting included former Minister of Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, former Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada, former Minister of Transport, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, former National Vice Chairman, South West, Ishola Filani, Elder Wole Oyelese, Uthman Shodipe and others.
Dickson, at the meeting explained that the PDP leaders in the South-west displayed understanding on the need to have a strong united political platform to wrest the country from the current situation of hopelessness.
He also said that the committee was pleased with the individual and collective responses and the willingness of the South-west PDP leaders to build a strong and cohesive party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“We think that our reconciliation efforts in the South-west have gone on very well, our party leaders have left nobody in doubt as to their commitment, genuine and abiding commitment, and loyalty to the party in the service of our great party.
“They understand that we have no option, and that all people of goodwill need to be in a formidable platform: a non-religious, non sectarian, all inclusive big umbrella that would unite our party more, unite our nation more and deliver Nigeria from the situation of hopelessness that we now find themselves,” he said.
Agbaje, in his remarks, described the meeting as productive in the concerted bid to strengthen the party.
He also reaffirmed his hope in the party and commended the efforts being made to address the observed hitches in the last convention.
“I think it has been a very good meeting moving forward. For some of us, it is about moving the party forward. There were hitches here and there, but I think
We are trying to smoothen those rough edges to kind of smoothen them. And I can see that we are coming out much happier than when we went in.
“We have every faith that the PDP is going to remain strong. We have every hope and we are working strongly to ensure that we take over power come 2019. To do that we are going to do everything possible, bring everybody on board, we are going to sell ourselves to the people and by God’s Grace we will be there,” he said
Earlier, Chief Olabode George had urged the PDP to put its house in order in accordance with the justice, fairness and equity which he said were the three pillars on which the party was rested.
He stressed that the real battle before the party was in 2019, adding that members should refrain from demonizing or decimating any other group within the party.
He said that he did not have anything against the emergence of Secondus as he (George) played a role in his emergence.
He added that even Secondus has consistently reflected that in all his actions.
“Yes, the convention has come and gone. No qualms about Secondus. I have played a role in his coming and he has perpetually reflected that in all he does. The visit today is so timely. I have refused to make comments, because as a partyman, I can not be part of those that will destroy the house that I built, that is not in our culture.
“I want to assure you that, yes, we have debated, we have analyzed, and we have come with the best suggested solutions to prepare us for the future.
“Of course, to err is human, I am happy you are here, we will do the analyses, we will discuss among ourselves; I can assure you that at the end of the day, with people like you and the men in your committee, we will be able to analyze it, so that those who are going to be at the helm of affairs will now know the mined area, as we head out to the real battle.
“The real battle is out there one year from now. We must strictly put our house in order with justice, fairness and equity as the three solid pillars of our party.”
Former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, while responding to Dickson’s entreaty, said it was too late for leaders of the PDP of his status to contemplate leaving the party.
He assured him that the PDP in the South-west would do everything to ensure the success of the party in 2019.
Although Daniel insisted that grievous mistakes and wrong assumptions which should have been avoided were made, he assured that he was experienced enough to know the nature of struggle for power, which he said, was not a ‘tea party.’
“I want you to be rest assured that we will do everything that is humanly possible to make sure that our party, the PDP, succeeds. There are no doubt that there are issues. Of course, the issues are usually expected when you have this kind of struggle. I also know that grievous mistakes have been made, and assumptions that ordinarily shouldn’t have happened. But we also are sufficiently experienced to appreciate that the struggle for power is not a tea party. And quite a number of people in the process play anyhow whether fair or foul,” he stated.
Former Governor of Oyo State, Rasheed Ladoja, on his part assured the committee that the PDP in the South-west would work in harmony in the overall interest of the party.
Ladoja also said the South-west PDP had accepted the outcome of the convention, as he said the convention provided the opportunity for the zone to learn its lesson.
He however, said that the PDP has a great chance to recapture power in all the states and even at the national level.
Instinctively, Prof. Adeniran urged the Governor Dickson-led committee to reach out to all aspirants and as many members of the party in the bid to reconcile the party.
Adeniran stressed that it was important to also reach out to as many members of the PDP who did not contest for any position but fought gallantly to ensure the preservation of the party.
“We should try to interact with various players; I will suggest that we should not leave any stone unturned to reach out as much as possible. There are those of us who carried the flag, but there are some others who are key players in this party, who may not even contest for positions but they are no less concerned about this party,” he said.
Ironically, another chairmanship aspirant, Professor Taoheed Adedoja, has filed a suit before a Federal High Court in Abuja seeking for the sack of Secondus and the nullification of the convention.
While addressing journalists in Abuja recently, Prof Adedoja, a former Sports and Special Duties Minister stated that the declaration of a zero score credited to him embarrassed and maligned him “and brought great ridicule” to his political career built over over the years.
He stated that he was not contesting the result of the convention but that there was an error in his name on the ballot paper.
In a suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1225/2017 filed on his behalf by Messers Rickey Tarfa & CO, the aspirant “appeal the court to declare the election of national chairman of PDP held at Eagle Square in Abuja on December 09, 2017, null and void”.
He also prayed the INEC to restrain from “recognising Uche Secondus as National Chairman of PDP on the ground that the election where Uche Secondus was declared national chairman of PDP, where I was unlawfully excluded from the list of the contestants for the position of national chairman of PDP which is a flagrant violation of the Electoral Act, the constitution of PDP, the guidelines for the conduct of PDP National Convention and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Defendants in the suit are chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee and Secretary, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and Dr. Ibrahim Umar respectively, Secondus, the PDP and the INEC.
According to him, his name is Prof. Taoheed Adedoja but not “Prof. Taoheed Oladoja” as was written on the ballot papers used for the convention.
He said he drew the attention of Governor Okowa to the error in his name who promised to make the necessary correction but nothing was done.
“I have suffered psychological trauma as a result of the public ridicule the election result has caused me, my family members, friends and associates
“My lawyers are demanding for appropriate compensation for damages, ridicule, embarrassment and disrepute brought to my name as a result of my wilful exclusion from participating in the election resulting to zero (0) score credited to my name which is now in public domain.
Meanwhile, Secondus has restated his commitment to full reconciliation and inclusion of all aggrieved members in the bid to reposition the party.
A statement issued by his media aide, Bisi Ezekiel, said Secondus stated this while receiving the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.
The PDP chairman said he is committed to the implementation of his three Rs namely – rebuild, reposition and regaining of power.
“Power belongs to God. It is the Almighty God who put us here and we have to be fair and just,” he stated.
While, political analystd believe that the political imbroglio can be addressed if all parties concerned are engaged in a round table talk. Many are of the opinion that the slot of vice-president should be zoned to the South-west to ensure a sense of belonging as well as garner support for the party.