EFFORTS by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to adopt a consensus candidate for the position of national chairman have been met with stiff resistance from the eight aspirants in the race.
Those in the race are Chief Olabode George, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, Prince Uche Secondus, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Mr. Jimi Agbaje and Alhaji Rashidi Ladoja.
The convention is slated for December 9.
Chief George, who spoke on behalf of other aspirants after a meeting with the Caretaker Committee chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, said the question of consensus did not come up at the gathering.
George, however, said the meeting was without rancour, adding that all the contestants agreed to pursue their aspirations as a team and that winning is not a matter of life and death.
According to him, the eight aspirants have agreed to play by the rules and that they have made commitments to support any one of them who eventually emerges winner.
The highlight of the day was the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting presided over by Makarfi with six of the party’s governors, National Assembly caucus and other key stakeholders in attendance.
In his opening remarks, Makarfi appealed for cooperation and collective resolve to make the upcoming convention a success in the overall interest of the PDP.
He stressed the need for the party to get it right, saying key decisions and resolutions would be reached on the convention and other pressing issues regarding the unity and progress of the PDP.
Apparently trying to ward off pressure being mounted on him by some interest groups and individuals to get undue leverage in their various aspirations, Makarfi said he would not be stampeded to take irrational decisions to favour anybody.
The party chairman cautioned aspirants and members mounting such pressure, saying it would be undemocratic to take decisions that are beyond his mandate or exercise powers that the PDP convention did not confer on him.
“We have no powers beyond the convention and I want to remind all of us, that the only thing the convention did was to zone two positions and as chairman of the caretaker committee, you cannot go beyond that.
“But to assume that the chairman of the caretaker committee would come and exercise powers that he doesn’t have, and start dishing out orders, that will be undemocratic and will have no basis or foundation in our constitution,” Makarfi said.
He informed the meeting of disciplinary measures taken against some errant members, particularly in Anambra State.
A former factional Chairman in Anambra State, Chief Ken Emeakayi and a defeated aspirant in the state’s governorship election, Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah, were suspended a few weeks ago for acting against the interest of the party.
Makarfi deplored what he described as the antics of one of the party’s senators from Ogun State, who has formed the habit of dragging the leadership of the PDP to court without exploring available internal conflict resolution channels.
Also speaking at the meeting, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, expressed satisfaction with the quality of aspirants in the race for the chairmanship position.
He praised the aspirants for their decision to support any one of them that eventually emerges winner in the race.
Ekweremadu lamented what he described as impunity and corruption being perpetrated by some key officials in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the national level.
Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, expressed disappointment over what he referred to as series of allegations rocking the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
He likened the government’s anti-corruption war to a situation where armed robbers are engaged in fierce battle with perceived thieves.
Fayose called on the party to continue to expose the excesses of the administration, saying PDP owed the Nigerian people a duty to do so.
He urged party stakeholders to ensure the success of the convention, noting that it would require the spirit of sportsmanship for the exercise to achieve the desired result.
“The last convention was applauded; I want to believe that this one will be the same. In this convention, there will be winners and losers, but in all, the party must win. The fact that you did not win should not make you destroy the party”.
Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) Senator Walid Jibrin urged members to do proper homework ahead of the convention to ensure the emergence of credible officials that will lead the party.
Jibrin said: “We must work towards producing able, trustworthy and dedicated officers. The success of our convention will depend on our unity and love for this party.”
Apart from Fayose, other governors that attended the meeting were Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom); Dave Umahi (Ebonyi); Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta).
Also in attendance were a few former governors, past National Assembly members and other party chieftains.