Not many members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) anticipated that the party would be holding a national convention today to change the leadership of the party.
But as of today, the party is set to change its leadership. But the journey to this point didn’t come easy.
It all started with a clash between two estranged political allies – Governor Nyesom Wike and the suspended PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.
Wike’s vote of no confidence against Secondus led to a chain of events which culminated in Secondus’ suspension by his ward over anti-party activities, a decision that was upheld by a High Court.
Secondus went to the Appeal Court to overturn the court ruling. He also asked the Appeal Court to suspend the PDP convention pending the hearing of his case.
Meanwhile, Secondus had authorised his deputy, Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, to oversee affairs of the party. Akinwonmi presided over the National Executive Committee (NEC) which convened the national convention.
With this process set in motion, a fresh round of intrigues began with debates over where party offices should be zoned to in light of where the 2023 presidential ticket of the party should go.
The Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi-led committee on zoning however zoned the positions, swapping party offices held by the South with those held by the North.
This situation resulted in a scramble for party offices as the North got the national chairman previously held by the South.
Soon, party leaders resorted to intra-zonal meetings in a bid to get consensus candidates to avoid rancour. While the North settled for former Senate President, Iyorchia Ayu, it was not so smooth for some other positions, like deputy national chairman (North) and deputy national chairman (South). Also the contest for national auditor was also contentious.
As the party prepared for the convention, there was a shadow of doubt over whether or not the convention would hold as legal fireworks continued. The party continued with its activities amid a feeling of anxiety among it’s party leaders.
However the uncertainty over the convention came to an end when the Appeal Court in its ruling yesterday dismissed Secondus’ request to suspend the convention.
With the case resolved, no less than 3,600 delegates will come from all over the country and assemble in Eagle Square in Abuja which was wearing a new look with the PDP logo.
The PDP now has elected officials in 35 states. The one in Lagos was disrupted and therefore postponed. Only in Oyo State was there a parallel Congress as a result of the disagreement between Governor Seyi Makinde and some of the leaders of the party in the state.
The convention is designed to be a political show to concretise the break-through or to celebrate that the party has pulled through some of its problems.
But the current state of affairs wouldn’t have been possible some months ago as the party was in a dire straits.
By this time last year, the general impression was that PDP was hemorrhaging and almost everybody was set to leave. As such the immediate NWC, set up the National Reconciliation and Strategy Committee (NRSC) last December to identify the problem areas in the party and resolve them while also suggesting strategies that can help the party.
The committee led by former Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, comprises two former Senate Presidents, three former governors and a former leader of the House of Representatives and the membership spread across the six zones.
The first task the committee took on was to reassure party members that the solution is not to leave but to stay and resolve all lingering issues as well as build a cohesive, united, focused and strong opposition party.
They held a series of meetings, spoke to many stakeholders, consulted with many people, and travelled across the various states to resolve differences, disputes and defray frayed nerves and appease people who nurse grievances over certain issues. As they hold these meetings across the country, they make suggestions and recommendations to the NWC from time to time.
The committee has successfully resolved the crisis in Ogun, Borno, Lagos, Cross River, Nasarawa, Ekiti and Plateau States.
Although the committee might not have recorded resounding success in all the states due to motives and personal interests, the party has witnessed stability nonetheless due to its intervention.
Also, the committee’s meeting with the PDP youth leaders has led to its recommendations to the NWC that the party constitution should be amended to reflect that only persons between the ages of 18 and 35 can be elected as youth leaders and people in this age bracket who are aspiring for public office should be excluded from paying the Expression of Interest fee just as the party does for women.
“I think we have done well in stopping the onslaught that is planned against our party. We are getting the party ready to return to power and solve all the problems confronting the country”, Saraki was quoted to have once said.
However the expectations are high as the party embarks on the convention.
Speaking to newsmen the chairman of the convention organising committee, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State, said “as you can see, all the subcommittees have been mobilized and they’re fully prepared to deliver by tomorrow, most of the activities have almost been completed and we’re fully satisfied.
“All the positions being contested for are fully occupied. The result of the screening committee was submitted to me yesterday and all the positions and individuals that were disqualified were further upheld by the Appeal Committee.
“At the moment, we’re making efforts to reconcile most of our contestants so that we can streamline them to have a better Convention, which will be hitch free and deepen our chances for 2023. Most of the positions as at today, except for three will not be contested.
“What we’ll be doing tomorrow (today) along with you, the problem has reduced significantly and we will keep posting as the events unfold. At the moment we are the talking to those that are contesting for the Office of the Deputy National Chairman south and the those that are contesting for Office of the Auditor, and those that are now contested for Office youth leader, I think at the moment is just the offices that are still have many people contesting for them. The rest have been streamlined and the consensus looks okay” he said.
However, how the party manages this process will be indicative of its preparedness to make a strong showing in the 2023 presidential election.