National chair: PDP aspirants to sign peace accord in Abuja

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Olusola Fabiyi, Kamarudeen Ogundele and Oladimeji Ramon

Eleven governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party quizzed all the eight National chairmanship aspirants of the party at their meeting in Enugu on Sunday, The PUNCH has learnt.

The meeting ended in the early hours of Monday.

The questioning was said to have taken place after a meeting that the governors and members of the party’s National Caucus had with the aspirants.

In attendance at the meeting were the Chairman of the party’s National Caretaker Committee, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, all the PDP governors, except that of Ebonyi State, who was represented by the state deputy governor.

Aspirants at the meeting were Bode George, Gbenga Daniel, Uche Secondus, Tunde Adeniran, Jimi Agbaje, Taoheed Adedoja, Raymond Dokpesi and Rashidi Ladoja.

Also in attendance were the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu; a former President of the Senate,  Adolphus Nwabara;  and former governors Gabriel Susuwan and Sule Lamido.

It was gathered that each aspirant was given 20 minutes to state his programmes for the party.

One of those at the meeting said after presentations, the governors asked each aspirant questions after which they were told to abide by the outcome of the election.

The party had fixed December 9, 2017, for the convention in Abuja, where national officers would also be elected.

At the Enugu meeting, The PUNCH gathered that the aspirants were asked how they would handle the issue of internal democracy in the party.

One of the aspirants, who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “We were asked to present our manifesto.

“We were also asked about our programmes for the party and how we would handle the issue of internal democracy. We also spoke on how to generate funds for the party.

“Some of the governors also asked us how we would handle the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress.”

It was gathered that the aspirants were later asked to come to the national headquarters of the party in Abuja on Tuesday to sign the peace accord.

Five of the aspirants later proceeded to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where they were billed to address delegates to the convention.

Dokpesi, who was at the Enugu meeting, confirmed that the aspirants had been directed to sign the peace accord.

Asked if the issue of zoning came up at the meeting of the forum with the aspirants, Dokpesi said, “The party was explicit enough on the issue of zoning.”

He said while the party’s presidential ticket was zoned to the North, the position of chairman’s was zoned to the South without specific reference to states or geopolitical region.

“After the zoning principle, all the aspirants have agreed to work together. Anybody can contest,” he added.

‘Markafi disorganising  S’West’

Meanwhile, the Senator representing Ogun East, Buruji Kashamu, has accused Makarfi of disorganising the South-West geopolitical zone of the party because of his 2019 presidential ambition.

Kashamu alleged in a statement in Abuja on Monday that  Makarfi had been “illegally tinkering duly elected state executives with the intention of substituting them with allies sympathetic to his ambition.”

He said, “He has been going about like a sole administrator with timeless tenure under the disguise of solving one problem or another.

“Makarfi has allowed his egocentric presidential ambition to blindfold him. He has disorganised the South-West PDP with his cohorts for selfish ambition.

“As if the disorganisation of the South-West structure is not enough; Makarfi has clandestinely abdicated the leadership role of ensuring an acceptable micro-zoning. He left the national chairmanship, hitherto conceded to the South-West, for a free-for-all among the three southern zones.”

Efforts made to get the reaction of Makarfi failed as calls made to his telephone line were not answered.

But the former governor of Kaduna State had consistently denied that he was nursing a presidential ambition.

Governors, others  to accept election result

State governors on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party and other stakeholders on Monday said they had resolved to work with any candidate that emerged the party’s chairman during the December 9 convention.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Bayelsa State Governor, Francis Agbo, said the decision was reached at the meeting of the PDP governors on Sunday in Enugu.

Also, speaking shortly after the meeting, the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, said the decision was taken to protect the party’s interest above other considerations and conduct a free, fair, transparent and credible convention.

The Ekiti governor, who said the PDP would be victorious at the 2019 general elections, also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct the forthcoming Anambra governorship election in a free-and-fair manner  “that will not only be credible but  seen as credible and acceptable by all.”

He said, “We have what it takes to take over Anambra State because we have worked hard to deserve the victory. We urge INEC to ensure that the Anambra election is credible and acceptable…”

Also speaking on the outcome of the meeting, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State renewed his call for a level-playing field for all PDP chairmanship aspirants.

He commended his fellow governors and other stakeholders for their efforts at repositioning the party for a successful outing in 2019.

George wants micro-zoning arrangement

An aspirant for the national chairman of the party, Bode George, has urged the party to adopt micro-zoning and equity during the PDP national convention.

Also, a former National Vice-Chairman of the PDP, (South-West), Ishola Filani, warned that the convention could either make or break the party.

George, who spoke when he visited the Port Harcourt zonal office of the PDP on Monday, noted that all party positions had been micro-zoned because of the need to give every section of the nation a sense of belonging and accommodation.

He said micro-zoning of the zonal offices was responsible for the stability and uniqueness of the PDP, adding that it should not be jettisoned during the forthcoming convention.

He advised the zonal officers to shun sentiments and “elect the most experienced and tested skipper to take the ship of the PDP and Nigeria back to a safe harbour.”

Also, Filani urged stakeholders to ensure that a candidate from the South-West emerged as the national chairman of the party for the first time to avoid the death of the party in the zone.

Filani spoke on Monday in Ado Ekiti at the inauguration of the Ambassador Dare Bejide Campaign Organisation Office along Ikere Ekiti Road.

Bejide, a former Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada, is a PDP governorship aspirant.

Stating that the national chairmanship position had been zoned to the South-West during the May 2016 National Convention, Filani wondered why some interest groups were working against the agreement by supporting the South-South’s candidacy.

He said, “The PDP national chairmanship has not been occupied by the South-West while other geopolitical zones have occupied it.”

Also at the event, the PDP National Vice Chairman (South-West), Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe, urged party leaders and members to support the South-West to produce the next PDP national chairman.

He described anybody working against the interest of the South-West as an enemy of the party.

 “The position of the national chairman has been zoned to the South-West; anybody from the South-West working against it is an enemy of the party,” he said.

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