By Muyiwa Oyinlola and Chibuzo Ukaibe
Top contender for the national chairmanship seat of the of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Prof Tunde Adeniran yesterday began protesting the outcome of the poll at the Eagle Square national convention ground of the peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Addressing newsmen on the convention ground, Prof Tunde Adeniran through his Campaign director of Media and Publicity, Taiwo Akeju, called for the handing over of the party’s affairs to the Board of Trustees (BoT).
Adeniran, who added that the convention should be cancelled alleged that the election was “grossly compromised” and accused the governors of Rivers and Ekiti State, Nyesom Wike and Ayo Fayose respectively of foisting a contentious ‘Unity List’ on the delegates.
The list was said to contain winners of the election meant to occupy various party national offices.
He said: “We reject the entire electoral process of December 9, 2017. The election has been grossly compromised to achieve a predetermined end in line with the illegal Unity List prepared by Governor Wike and Ayodele Fayose and foisted on the entire delegates.
“Consequently, we submit that this election is a sham and the result therefrom is unacceptable. We reject it in its entirety.
“We consider this so-called election as a travesty of democracy and due process, which further entrenches the culture of impunity that has done a great damage to the party in the past.
“Our position is also that this election should be cancelled and the entire leadership of the party should be handed over to the Board of Trustees which we regard as the conscience of the party, to organise a credible election for the party in due cause.
As of the time of filing this report, election officials were still sorting the ballot papers, even as it had become clear that Governor Wike-backed Uche Secondus will record a landslide victory.
Earlier, a chairmanship aspirant and media magnate Raymond Dokpesi, faulted the outcome of the national convention of the party, describing it as a charade, that may destroy the party.
Dokpesi who spoke with newsmen as the counting of the polls were on said the process of voting has been rigged, following the distribution of a unity list containing names of candidates believed to have won elections into various national leadership positions in the party.
He said complaints were lodged to the chairman of the PDP electoral committee Gabriel Susuan who confirmed that he saw the list with some delegates and was overwhelmed.
Dokpesi said it was unfortunate that a party which is just getting out of a major leadership crisis will be involved in acts of impunity and election malpractice.
The media magnate, however, called on the party leadership to urgently rectify what he called an anomaly and a charade before it becomes another major challenge to the party, ahead 2019 general elections.
The unity list that contained the names of the preferred candidates for all the available 21 positions for contest sparked off protests at the convention venue.
Speaking with journalists while voting was ongoing, Dokpesi said he had to complain to the chairman of the convention planning committee, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.
The media mogul said he also complained to the former governor of Benue State, Mr. Gabriel Suswam who was one of the organisers of the convention.
According to him, both Okowa and Suswam admitted having seen the controversial list, but that they could not do anything about it.
Dokpesi vowed to explore available internal conflict resolution avenues to seek redress but was silent on whether he would challenge the alleged imposition in court.
Secondus was yesterday favoured at the PDP’s nation convention ground in Eagles Square, with Unity List which outlined the preferred candidates for certain offices by major powerful power bloc within the party.
According to the controversial list, Secondus, was picked as chairman, while Elder Yemi Akinwonmi and Senator Gamawa Babawo Garba were favoured as deputy national chairmen (South) and (North).
It also had Kola Ologbondiyan, as the national publicity secretary; national secretary in the list was Sen Ibrahim Tsuari; deputy national secretary, Dr Agbo Emmanuel. On the list for national financial secretary was Abdullahi Maibasira; national organising secretary was Col Austin Akobundu.
Among South-west national chairman contestants who withdraw yesterday at the convention ground were former governor of Oyo State Rasheed Ladoja, his counterpart from Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniels, former Lagos State governorship aspirant, Jimi Agbaje. They cited cheating against the South-west among reasons for their withdrawal.
Ladoja urged South west aspirants to adopt Adeniran as the sole candidate from the region. He said the decision to adopt Adeniran was in light of request from party stakeholders from other zones, which culminated in Northern stakeholders issuing a communique on their preference for a South west candidate.
Agbaje, withdrew on ground that it would enhance the chance of a south west candidate.
Former deputy national chairman, Chief Bode George, had on the eve of the convention withdrew from the contest.
He hinged his withdrawal on the refusal of the party to micro zone the chairmanship South-west and the alleged insulting remarks by the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, on the Yoruba race. He however stressed that he is not withdrawing for any aspirant.
With the withdrawal of South west, the other aspirants who remained in the race included, former deputy national chairman, Uche Secondus; former minister of education, Prof Tunde Adeniran; former minister of youths and sports, Prof Taoheed Adedoja.
Agbaje who reacted via his twitter handle, said “With less than 24 hours to the convention, I have painfully decided to withdraw from the race hoping that others will join me in bringing down the number such that the South West can have a fighting chance of clinching the national chairmanship of the PDP.
“The support from serving and past governors, senators, members of the House of Representatives, women, youth and opinion leaders has been tremendous. While sincerely thanking them for their unflinching loyalty, I empathize with the great disappointment they must feel at this decision.
“I plead that we all put the overall interest of PDP first. I pledge my support to whoever emerges as the national chairman as determined at the national convention.
“From consultations with stakeholders from various zones, we gathered that from all zones, the stakeholders who preferred to back the South west Zone for the position suggested that we should prune down the number, if possible, to one person.
“The Northern stakeholders went to the extent of stating clearly in a communique, after their meeting, for their preference for a South west candidate.
“To reciprocate these laudable gestures, meetings of the seven aspirants were held with Senator R A. Ladoja as the convener on Wednesday 6th, Thursday 7th, Friday 8th and Saturday 9th December, 2017 With the sole aim of agreeing a consensus candidate. We all agreed that the chances of one person winning are better than those of seven people who are likely to divide the votes coming to the zone.
“Since then, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, Chief Olabode George, Senator Rashidi Ladoja and Mr. Olusegun Aderemi have withdrawn from the race.
“Accordingly I am of the opinion that Professor Tunde Adeniran should become our consensus candidate for the south west zone.
Northern delegates held the aces
Meanwhile, northern delegates held the ace in the convention, determing to a good extent its outcome as they became beautiful brides following the aligning of Southeast delegates with Secondus and Southwest delegates with Adeniran. Determing who carried the day was then a ball that was in their court.
Jonthan extols PDP
Meanwhile, former President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday said the persecution of members thePDP) will soon end.
Jonathan who stated this at the national convention ground of the Party, added that the war against corruption is war against opponents of government.
He however advised those he described as victims of the anti-corruption war to endure because it will not last forever.
He declared that the PDP is back to reclaim its rightful place in the affairs of the country, having emerged as reference point in the country’s democracy. While speaking at the convention Jonathan said “As Nigeria’s foremost and largest political party, I believe that the PDP will remain at the forefront of leadership by example. And I urge all members to remain committed, and to be prepared to work for the interest of our party and the country.
“Over the years, PDP has remained focused and resilient in building a
strong democratic culture, despite the challenges we had faced. We have struggled to steady the ship and have regained enough composure to effectively become a strong voice of opposition, and resume the contest to return to office.
“There is no doubt that the PDP has again become the reference point as the nation moves close to another election season. Even those who had earlier written us off, can now attest to the fact that we have become resolute in growing our spread and strength. Many who left are already returning to our fold. Like a loving father, PDP is welcoming them all
back with open arms. We are one family, and what we feel is that satisfying sensation and renewed trust that follow family reunions.
“We should not forget that ours is a party with an enviable history and good records. Democracy is built on a tradition of established parties and principles. We have given Nigeria’s democracy a good push because we have been consistent in standing on our grounds and upholding our name, for almost two decades. We have never changed our name or our identity since the return of democracy in 1999.
“We should always celebrate the fact that the PDP introduced key policies that improved governance, enhanced welfare, boosted and stabilized the economy of our great country, and above all, gave our people hope.
“It is worth noting that this particular convention, by the number of candidates and robustness of the campaigns, has been remarkably different from our past conventions. The campaigns have set new records in our democracy.
“It was quite refreshing, exciting and commendable, the way candidates for various positions, toured all the states, to sell their promises to our members. Those campaigns shone like a burning flame that lit up the entire country, attracting the interest of majority of Nigerians.
“This shows that our party, the PDP, remains quite vibrant and viable. It shows that Nigerians still look up to the PDP as that strong party with a divine role to play in the affairs of our nation.”
Atiku blasts APC, urges PDP unity
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, lambasted his former party the All Progressives Congress (APC), noting that Nigerians are more divided under the APC administration than they have been since the end of the civil war.
In his remarks at theconvention, he described the APC as a failed party.
According to him, the party has failed to meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians since it became a ruling party in May 2015.
He stated that APC has made life more miserable for Nigerians, adding that PDP’s “unequalled record of growing our economy for the benefit of all” is unrivalled.
Giving a comparative analysis of what both political parties have achieved, Atiku said: “The APC promised us three million new jobs a year. In government the APC has lost three million jobs a year.
“The APC promised us peace and unity. Under the APC, Nigeria is now more divided and acrimonious than at any time since the civil war. The APC promised us restructuring. In office the APC denied restructuring. The APC promised a war on corruption but all they have delivered is a war on the opposition, with handouts for their cronies and handcuffs for their opponents.”
Our door is open to intending returning members-Makarfi
The outgoing interim national chairman of the PDP, Sen Ahmed Makarfi, appealed to the incoming leadership of the party to ensure that PDP’s doors remain wide open for both returnees and new members.
Makarfi, who stressed that vibrant, decent and patriotic opposition was required to develop and mature Nigeria democracy, also knocked the APC-led federal government for failing to meet the yearnings of Nigeria.
Speaking on the need for opening doors to new members, he said this was imperative to ensure that they were not disadvantaged in any way, “just as it is also imperative that the loyalty, sacrifices, commitment and dedication of those who stuck with the party through thick and thin were not denigrated in any way.
“A level playing field must be availed all members so that we avoid a situation in which we create many other problems while trying to solve one.
“In words and actions, we must continuously assure and reassure members that loyalty to the party does, indeed pay and is rewarded. It is not out of place for me to advise the incoming leadership to focus, among others, on evolving ways that would facilitate greater involvement of women and youths in both politics and governance,” he said.
Makarfi said that inspite of all the challenges encountered by his committee, they were able to record some achievements.
Some of the challenges according to him include litigation and inadequate finance as all but one of the bank accounts inherited by the committee was garnisheed by various court judgements.
He said “The only bank account we have had access to these past 18 months is one that had less than two million naira.”
He said that in spite of all constraints, the committee was able to lay a good foundation for the repositioning of the PDP, turning it into the beautiful bride coveted by all discerning politicians.