State of PDP Chairmanship Race

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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

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.

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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.

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