*** PDP Can’t Afford Pre-2015 Mistakes – Ekweremadu
By Chibuzo Ukaibe, Abuja
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Tuesday declared that it will no longer tolerate the continued harassment and intimidation of its members by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government led federal government.
PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, who stated this while receiving members of party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) at the party’s national headquarters in Abuja, warned that the rate at which its leaders were being harassed was getting out of hand.
Secondus, who specifically expressed anger over the recent visits of former President of the Senate, David Mark to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), adding, “there is no where in the world where a former Senate President has been harassed like this before.”
He continued “APC should stop intimidating our leaders, we will no longer take it, enough is enough. They don’t need to attack us, they should fulfil what they promise us. Enough of this, we are not in a military era. What I am telling them is that God is not sleeping. When the time comes, the people will speak through their votes.
“We handed over freely in 2015 and they should be prepared to handover to us, no amount of intimidation will distract Nigerians,” Secondus said.
He further told the APC not be afraid to freely hand over power in 2019, like the PDP did in 2015.
He said “They should not be afraid to handover when they are defeated in the election. It happened to us in 2015. We handed over freely in 2015 so they should be prepared to hand over to us freely.”
In a related development Secondus, who spoke at a retreat for the party’s newly elected National Working Committee (NWC) in Abuja, revealed that there are plans by the APC administration to arrest about 100 PDP members.
Secondus, who said the arrests would start from January, also alleged that there are plans by the administration to build more prisons.
Noting that PDP established the current structures to fight corruption in the country, Secondus quipped, “How many people can you throw into jail. We hear that they are coming to arrest 100 members in January. We hear that they are building new prisons.”
He however underscored the essence of the retreat as being a vehicle to ensure PDP returns to power in 2019, just as he assured that there will be a new reward system in the party such that “when you work for the party you will be rewarded and recognized.”
Bayelsa State governor and chairman of the party’s national reconciliation committee, Seriake Dickson, underscored the need for having a common front going into 2019, stressing that a party that does not win election is dead.
Dickson who gave a remark at the meeting, underscored the need for conflict resolution and reconciliation, revealed that he has contacted an aggrieved national chairmanship aspirant, Prof Taoheed Adedoja over his grievances arising from the convention.
The governor who added that he has scheduled a meeting with Adedoja, noted that the party holds him in high esteem.
Secondus who charged the party leadership to ensure that it engages its aggrieved members continuously further stressed that the “Success or other wise of the political party depends on judgement and tolerance you display.”
While he maintained that conflicts and agitations are an integral part of party politics, the Bayelsa State governor however noted that those in charge of the party at different levels have to deploy “sound judgement and courage because the choices that you make will guide the party.”
He further noted that the party should ensure that the people take ownership of its candidates, noting “No armory is stronger than that which is based on the peoples support.”
He further stated that the APC is doing a lot of work for the PDP, noting “They are making our easier with the kind of governance they are giving.”
On his part, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu charged the newly elected National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP to ensure transparent and credible primaries ahead of the 2019 general election.
He blamed the party’s defeat in the 2015 general election on lack of internal democracy that manifested in the forms of imposition of candidates and disregard for the party’s constitution.
He said: “Another election year is by the corner. The new NWC must ensure that the party does not repeat past mistakes. We must return power to the people, as our name and slogan rightly demand of us. This will not only reassure Nigerians that we are indeed an improved and rebranded PDP, but will also encourage the massive return of former party faithful.
“Furthermore, the public will evaluate our commitment to end corruption and promote accountability and transparency by the way we handle internal party affairs.
“We have a history of fighting corruption and our systems must be corruption-free. This should stand us out as the only hope to eradicate corruption in Nigeria. The PDP established the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
“We saw to the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act and introduction of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), Treasury Single Account (TSA), and the Biometric Verification Number (BVN). The PDP also ensured that the Civil Society Organisations and the press flourished to promote an accountable and open society.
“There was no effort by the PDP to tame the Non-Governmental Organisations or the use of the social media. Importantly, we beamed the anti-graft searchlight on our own members to demonstrate that there must be no sacred cows in the war against graft.
“Therefore, we must conduct our affairs in a way that reassure Nigerians that under the incoming PDP administration, we will not only consolidate on all these track record, but will also firmly eradicate corruption from 2019”.
The Senator also warned against any form of undue interferences by the NWC in the affairs of the state chapters of the party.
“I appeal to the NWC to ensure that the state executives of the party enjoy the freedom to run the affairs of the party at the state level. The current NWC should emphatically denounce all forms of impunity and the politics of godfather and godson.
“The state executives and members of our party at that level understand the character of the aspirants, their popularity, and the local circumstances in their jurisdictions. They should, therefore, be allowed to work with the electoral panels to pilot the primaries transparently and creditably.
“But like Caesar’s wife, the state executives must also live above board. This is a new PDP”, he added.
On the party’s presidential ticket, Ekweremadu urged the NWC provide a level playing ground for all interested and qualified aspirants.
He said: “Of utmost importance in the build up to 2019 election year is our choice of presidential candidate. The fate and political fortunes of the party depend on the party’s presidential candidate.
“The party must, therefore, identify a candidate with the credentials, reach, charisma, competence, and popularity to outmatch any candidate presented by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and any other party for that matter.
“The party’s leadership should encourage every interested and qualified member to vie for the ticket in a free, fair, and credible party primary. Let the best candidate emerge”.