Tuesday 26th September, 2017
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Eyes on 2019, PDP plots, holds convention tomorrow

Eyes on 2019, PDP plots, holds convention tomorrow

As the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) watches carefully and perhaps nervously, the resurgent main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) holds its non-elective convention at the Eagle Square, Abuja, tomorrow, to tweak the tenure of Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee. LOUIS ACHI and SAMUEL OGIDAN look at the implications of this strategic political ritual and its associated intrigues
The venue for the event was curi­ously, grudgingly conceded by the ruling government. This was hardly helped by a sense of triumphant resurrec­tion from near-death by chubby-cheeked, well-fed looking members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party. In­stead of a full-blown national convention to choose new leadership to pilot its affairs, on the initially scheduled Au­gust 16, 2017, the expiry of the Ahmed Makarfi-led National Care-taker Committee, the PDP settled for a non-elective convention coming up tomorrow, at the Eagle Square, Abuja. But the former ruling party ap­parently has good reason for this quirky deviation from which a mint-new leadership will not arise.
The decision to hold a non-elective special con­vention tomorrow was taken on July 18, at the party’s 74th National Ex­ecutive Council meeting held at the party’s nation­al secretariat in Abuja. PDP spokesperson Ade­dayo Adeyeye told news­men at the end of the meeting that the National Convention could no longer hold on August 16 as previously scheduled, because of certain provi­sions the party needs to meet.
His words: “Practically, it is going to be impos­sible to have our national convention before August 16 because we need to give statutory notice to INEC. Our own constitu­tion has some important provisions that we need to meet, and there is no time to meet all those provisions. So practically, it is impossible to hold an elective national conven­tion before August 16.
“Therefore, NEC took a decision today that in view of all the circum­stances, NEC invoking the power conferred on it under section 31, 2 Sub-section A today decided to convene a non-elective national convention on August 12 in Abuja.”
Further according to Adeyeye, it was “one of the most important deci­sions” taken at the large gathering of leaders of the party. Besides the NEC meeting, the National Caucus of the party also met.
The National Caucus meeting presided by the chairman of the party’s caretaker committee, Ahmed Makarfi, was at­tended by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; the party’s National Secretary, Ben Obi; Acting Chairman of the Board of Trust­ees, Aminu Wali; and some state governors led
 
 by Ayodele Fayose, the Ekiti State Governor who is the Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum. Other governors at the meeting were Udom Em­manuel (Akwa Ibom), Darius Ishaku (Taraba) and Ibrahim Dank­wambo (Gombe). Also in attendance were two deputy governors John Gboribiogha (Bayelsa) and Ude Chukwu (Abia).
Still others at the meet­ing include members of the National Caretaker Committee, National Vice Chairmen and State Chairmen, Senate Mi­nority Leader Godswill Akpabio, House Minor­ity Leader Leo Ogor, and some principal officers of the National Assembly.
Significantly, the eu­phoria surrounding to­morrow’s event has a flip-side. Some PDP members see it as a continuation of PDP’s culture of impunity being expressed through imposition of candidates and party executives rather than the acceptable tradition of democratisa­tion, a major burden of the party.
Along this line of think­ing, some have argued that the essence of a non- elective convention is to clandestinely ease the Ahmed Makarfi-led Na­tional Care-taker Com­mittee into a substantive National Working Com­mittee (NWC). Propo­nents of this position believe this translates to impunity and lack of in­ternal party democracy, an albatross that fed the protracted crisis which shook the party to its foundation and threat­ened to destroy it.
However, many party loyalists believe firmly in the wisdom of the non-elective convention and see the reasons adduced by the party leadership are very germane - a sce­nario that if undermined could trigger constitu­tional crisis and attract sanctions by the Indepen­dent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In effect, tomorrow’s non-elective convention is the best option for the party, against the back­ground of the long pe­riod of litigation which terminated on the July 12 with the Supreme Court verdict. Perhaps, had the Supreme Court judge­ment come earlier than it did, the PDP would have been able to meet the long notice of 21 days re­quirement as prescribed by the Electoral Act for the conduct of an elec­tive convention.
Tomorrow’s non-elec­tive convention The AU­THORITY gleaned is to extend the tenure of the Makarfi-led committee in preparation for the main convention where members will be elected to oversee the affairs of the party.
It was also gathered that the number of months to be given to the caretaker committee is generating some controversy. While some members are agi­tating for three months, others are asking for six months. Those asking for six months, it was gath­ered, argued that the six months would enable the committee to make ad­equate preparation and to reconcile aggrieved members and other asso­ciated issues.
The party is not leaving any stone unturned and has during the inaugu­ration of its committees on reconciliation, dis­cipline and convention, extended its hands of fel­lowship to former Presi­dent Olusegun Obasanjo, Atiku Abubakar, Bu­kola Saraki, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Yakubu Dogara and others, who left the party, as result of one grievance or the other.
It could be recall that at the height of the cri­sis in PDP, prominent members of the party, in the person of Atiku and Saraki alongside five PDP governors, namely Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano); Aliyu Wamma­ko (Sokoto); Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara); Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); and Murtala Nyako (Adama­wa) defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives and now governor of So­koto State, Aminu Wa­ziri Tambuwal, had led members from the lower chamber into the APC.
Meanwhile, the con­vention committee led by Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa is already moving in full swing to ensure the success of the non-elective convention. Addressing newsmen on Wednesday at the party’s national secretariat, dur­ing the Committee’s first meeting, the governor boasted that the party would take over govern­ment in 2019.
He said: “PDP has come alive, will stay alive and has sent a strong message to make Nigerians to re­alise that we will take over power in 2019. There will be no failure on our part.”
The governor prom­ised that the non-elective Convention Committee would deliver a conven­tion that the people would be proud of. He pointed out that the days for prep­aration were short, add­ing that the convention committee did not see it as a challenge to deliver on its responsibilities and expectations to organised successful convention. According to Okowa, “We are confident because we are organised party, that we will definitely deliver a convention that we will be proud of as a party. I am trusting in the ability of our leaders, the chair­men and the secretaries of our sub-committees that we will do a good work.
“Also because we are organised party, before today, some level of work has been done by the National Working Com­mittee. I must appreciate them for what they have done before today. We hope that by Saturday we will have a very good story to tell to the public. Our success will be that strong message that we will send out to the pub­lic.”
Against the back­ground of perceived creeping dictatorship and some sense of uncer­tainty swirling around the ruling APC, many are relieved that a cred­ible, strong opposition platform has resurrected at last. The emerging con­sensus is that the PDP is gaining significant po­litical traction, notwith­standing its unsightly pimples, warts and all.

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