State of PDP Chair­man­ship Race

Hope of a con­sen­sus can­di­date emerg­ing as chair­man of the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party is fad­ing quickly as each can­di­date in­ten­si­fies ef­forts to clinch the party’s top job, writes Tobi Soniyi

THISDAY - - PAGE SIX -

Hope of a con­sen­sus can­di­date emerg­ing as chair­man of the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party is fad­ing quickly as each can­di­date in­ten­si­fies ef­forts to clinch the party’s top job, writesTobi Soniyi

If the can­di­date who cam­paigns most must win the elec­tion, both Dokpesi and Daniel must be win­ning. More than any other can­di­dates, they have vis­ited more states

In pol­i­tics, things can change so sud­denly ren­der­ing the cer­tain un­cer­tain. When the race for the na­tional chair­man of the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party opened, many thought it was go­ing to be a walkover for some front-line can­di­dates. So far, that is not the case. None of the as­pi­rants wants to step down for an­other be­cause each be­lieves he has got what it takes to lead the party that is pos­tur­ing to re­turn to power at the ear­lier pos­si­ble time.

Last week, some of the can­di­dates tried to shake off what their op­po­nents are us­ing against them. For in­stance, for­mer Act­ing Na­tional Chair­man of the party, Uche Se­con­dus had to is­sue a state­ment to state that he was not been pushed into the race by some god­fa­thers. Although he did not make ref­er­ence to the Rivers State gov­er­nor, Nye­som Wike, many be­lieved that Se­con­dus was the can­di­date of the gov­er­nor.

In pol­i­tics, your as­set may also be­come your li­a­bil­ity. While it is crys­tal clear that with­out the sup­port of Wike, Se­con­dus’s stands no chance of be­com­ing the party’s chair­man, the op­po­site is also true. He dares not go out and boast that Wike is sup­port­ing him. If he does, he may end up alien­at­ing other del­e­gates.

His cam­paign or­gan­i­sa­tion, in a state­ment signed by Mr. Taiye Gar­rick, said that re­ports al­leg­ing clan­des­tine moves by some pow­er­ful forces to im­pose Se­con­dus as the na­tional chair­man of the PDP was false.

Gar­rick said “There is no iota of truth in the re­ports. Our can­di­date de­pends on en­dorse­ment and votes of del­e­gates at the forth­com­ing na­tional con­ven­tion.

“We want Nige­ri­ans and mem­bers of the party to note that the po­si­tion of na­tional chair­man was zoned to the south­ern re­gion com­pris­ing of three zones and Se­con­dus has ev­ery le­git­i­mate and le­gal rights to as­pire for the of­fice of na­tional chair­man.”

The state­ment said since Se­con­dus launched his am­bi­tion for the po­si­tion, “no mem­ber of Board of Trus­tees has openly en­dorsed him as some have done for some other can­di­dates. We re­peat that no­body is im­pos­ing any­body. There is no plot to im­pose Se­con­dus on the PDP.”

He stressed that “When some mem­bers of Board of Trus­tees openly en­dorsed some as­pi­rants, the Se­con­dus Cam­paign Or­gan­i­sa­tion did not raise any eye­brow. Rather than wait­ing for any group en­dorse­ments, we have been cam­paign­ing day and night across the six zones, sell­ing our redemp­tion mes­sages to PDP del­e­gates.

“We urge all as­pi­rants to get ready for the na­tional con­ven­tion and stop game of dis­trac­tions. The del­e­gates as­sem­bled will cast their votes for an as­pi­rant of their choice in the full glare of the pub­lic. No­body can im­pose any as­pi­rant in a free and fair con­test.

“We also want to af­firm that Se­con­dus re­mains the most qual­i­fied for the chair­man­ship go­ing by his an­tecedents be­fore and af­ter the cri­sis that nearly killed the party.He is bold and push­ful along­side with his great blue­print to re­turn the PDP to power in 2019.”

Strange the­o­ries are also com­mon in po­lit­i­cal cir­cles. From nowhere, a the­ory emerged that an­other front-line can­di­date, Prof.Tunde Adeni­ran was be­ing spon­sored by for­mer Vice-Pres­i­dent Atiku Abubakar who as at press time was not a mem­ber of the party. The the­ory is that if Adeni­ran be­comes the party’s chair­man, he will make it easy for the for­mer vice pres­i­dent to get the party’s pres­i­den­tial ticket.

But re­al­is­ing the dam­age such the­ory could cause Adeni­ran, his La­gos State Sup­port Group said that there was no iota of truth in the news mak­ing the rounds that Adeni­ran’s can­di­dacy for na­tional chair­man­ship of the party was at the be­hest of Atiku Abubakar.

The co­or­di­na­tor of the sup­port group, Dr. Adetokunbo Pearse said that such in­sin­u­a­tion was not only il­log­i­cal, but silly, adding that the days of im­po­si­tion of can­di­dates in the party was over.

He said: “Be­sides, Atiku is not yet a mem­ber of our party, so how could he im­pose any can­di­date?” he asked.

Pearse in­sisted that the De­cem­ber 9th na­tional del­e­gate con­ven­tion would be free and fair as “we don’t have the State House any­more, so no­body is go­ing to im­pose his pre­fer can­di­date from Aso Rock Villa.”

He also said that gov­er­nors were no longer as pow­er­ful as they used to be, “so they can­not im­pose their will on the del­e­gates”, he added. He noted that it was im­po­si­tion of can­di­date that led to the cri­sis in the PDP and that ef­forts were on to avoid the mis­takes of the past.

He said: “Look at it. When for­mer Pres­i­dent (Good­luck) Jonathan in­sisted on Al­haji Ba­manga Tukur, the party broke. When Bode George im­posed Jimi Ag­baje on the party in La­gos state, it broke. When some gov­er­nors brought in Sen­a­tor Ali Modu Sher­iff and im­posed him on mem­bers, the party scat­tered. That is bane of im­po­si­tion. Noth­ing like that is go­ing to be al­lowed again. The will of the peo­ple must pre­vail this time around.”

For High Chief Ray­mond Dokpesi and Chief Gbenga Daniel, the dec­la­ra­tion by the na­tional care­taker chair­man of the PDP, Sen­a­tor Ahmed Makarfi that as­pi­rants for the po­si­tion of the na­tional chair­man of the party would not be dropped be­cause they are be­ing pros­e­cuted by the Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crimes Com­mis­sion must have come as a big re­lief.

Makarfi re­port­edly spoke while re­ceiv­ing Daniel and his cam­paign team. He also as­sured all can­di­dates that the party would pro­vide a level play­ing ground for all of them.

“I as­sure you that the PDP will pro­vide a level play­ing field and it is our col­lec­tive re­solve that PDP will be the win­ner at the end of the day and not an in­di­vid­ual. We are all one large fam­ily,” he said.

Be­fore now, many have ex­pressed the view that PDP would be bet­ter off with a chair­man that suf­fers no en­cum­brance. Both Daniel and Dokpesi are fac­ing charges in dif­fer­ent courts. They de­nied any wrong do­ing. They also viewed the charges against them as mere dis­trac­tion.

If the can­di­date who cam­paigns most must win the elec­tion, both Dokpesi and Daniel must be win­ning. More than any other can­di­dates, they have vis­ited more states.

At press time, Daniel has taken his cam­paign to twelve states in­clud­ing Sokoto, Zam­fara, Katsina, Kano, Ji­gawa, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi, Plateau, Niger and Kaduna states. Dokpesi is also de­ter­mined to take his cam­paign to all the states be­fore the con­ven­tion. Last week, he met with for­mer-pres­i­dent Oluse­gun Obasanjo in Abeokuta, Ogun state.

While in Ogun State, Dokpesi said that any­one seek­ing to be na­tional chair­man of a po­lit­i­cal party must con­sult with the for­mer pres­i­dent.

Although, Obasanjo had said that he was no longer in­ter­ested in mem­ber­ship of any po­lit­i­cal par­ties, the PDP would be well ad­vised to heed his ad­vice.

Obasanjo said those who de­stroyed the PDP were still in it and that they would not leave un­til the run­ning of the party was taken over by ”de­ter­mined, self­less, up­right, and hon­est peo­ple.”

“If we are just say­ing PDP has a cri­sis, which is self-made and that the Supreme Court had re­solved the cri­sis for us, we are just de­ceiv­ing our­selves.

“The Supreme Court has taken a right de­ci­sion as an apex court should, but as a party, only that can­not help you to do it all.’’

He prayed for PDP to get its na­tional con­ven­tion right, say­ing the chair­man­ship of the party was very im­por­tant.

“I had four PDP chair­men in eight years. So, I know what it takes to have a good or bad chair­man for a party,’’

While the PDP must be com­mended for al­low­ing all the can­di­dates to as­pire to be chair­man of the party, it can also not af­ford to al­low just any­one to take over the party. This is be­cause who­ever emerges as the chair­man will have a big im­pact on the party’s fu­ture. PDP will for, ob­vi­ous rea­sons, have to send a clear mes­sage to the All Pro­gres­sives Congress with who­ever emerges as its chair­man.

Dokpesi Daniel

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