All is now set for the 2021 national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The event, which is billed for this month’s ending, will elect national officials of the party into the national working committee,NWC, the highest administrative organ of the party that runs the day to day affairs of the party from the Wadata House national Secretariat in Abuja.
Section 33(1) of the PDP constitution talks about the establishment and composition of the nation convention. It consists of the national chairman of the party, serving and former elected Presidents and Vice Presidents who are members of the party, members of the national and state assemblies and former principal officers of the national assembly and former presiding officers of the state assemblies, serving and former elected Governors and deputy governors of the party, all gubernatorial candidates of the party and their deputies, serving and former BOT members, zonal executives of the party, national assembly candidates , LGA party chairmen and national delegates from each of the 774 LGAs and the FCT.
There are also elected LGA council chairmen, former members of the national working committee and one physically challenged person per state and the FCT nominated by each state caucus.
The national convention is the highest controlling authority of the party with the supreme power of policy administration. It has the authority to elect and remove the national officers of the party, elect the Presidential candidate of the party , receive reports from the national executive committee among many other key functions.
The national convention determines its own procedure in accordance with democratic principles and meets every four years.
Before now, former members of the national assembly were automatic delegates to the national conventional who participated very actively in electing national officials of the party and also the Presidential candidate. Things moved on very smoothly until some elected governors of the party felt uncomfortable with the rising number of the national assembly block which they feared, could dominate the party and have its way in every decision. This miscalculated and unnecessary fear led to the removal of the former members of the apex legislative body from the national convention. The consequences of this action is the slowed pace of commitment by these eminent party leaders who withdrew from active participation in most instances and in other cases, defected to the ruling Apc which recognizes them as members of the highest decision making body.
With the party in opposition and the need to reinvigorate its wheel and machinery of operation, the urgent need to reinstate the former legislators as delegates to the national convention cannot be over emphasized.
How can one explain such flimsy decision to remove the former legislators just for fear of a growing influence within the party? Are they using the strength to fight the party or to work for the party? What of their influences in their various constituencies and states?
How can an LGA party chairman and a national delegate selected by the same governors be more influential than a former national legislator? How can former state assembly speakers and deputy speakers be delegates to national convention and their senior colleagues at the national assembly are not ? It was the same governors who insisted on this flawed arrangements so as to swell the number of their former speakers and their deputies to provide a strong block during decision making while frowning at the increasing number of their national counterparts. But as long as democracy continues, the number of legislators at both the federal and state and even the local government levels will increase.
That has created serious disenchantment among the former federal legislators most of whom are discouraged about the activities of the party.The increasing number of former national assembly members is drawn from the large space that is provided for their election in the constitution of the country and the party. Do you punish them and deliberately reduced their influence just because of the fact of their large numbers? Are the number of former governors elected under the party increasing or decreasing? What of the state assembly former speakers and their deputies?
As the convention draws near, former members of the national assembly are making their case clearer. They have concluded arrangements with solid position to present before the committee on constitution review to seek reinstatement.
With the party in the opposition, its rank and file needs to be fortified. Key and critical stakeholders all need to be in front of the struugle to wrestle power from the failed Apc government.
No explanation can fil the gap in this case, but the needful that must be done to ensure that the party comes together to do things together. Former members of the national assembly must not be made to be competing with other lower members in trying to get nominated as national delegates to the national convention. The honour of being automatic delegates is a plus to the party because it’s a recognition that is well deserved. At a point, even ministers and board chairmen that were not elected served as delegates to the national convention together with elected former national assembly members. When the decision to reduce the membership of the national convention came, it was thought that former elected national officers woud not be touched, but the pressure of the governors who asserted their influence through the Governors Forum manipulated its way.
All former members of the national assembly, Senators and members of the House of Representatives are set to pursue with vigour and all that it takes to get them back as automatic delegates to the national convention.