PDP heading for ‘make or break’ convention 

Ali-Modu-Sheriff-1Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may be heading for a ‘make or break’ national convention scheduled for May 21 going by the tough stance and defiant position of the South West zone over the chairmanship position.

The zone has persistently stated that it would move against any attempt to deprive it of the chairmanship post, which it has never held since the party was founded in 1998.

The radical stand of the zone was a result of the outcome of the Zoning Committee, headed by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, which zoned the chairmanship to the North. The party had reserved the presidency for the North ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Rising from a stakeholders meeting held in Lagos last week, the South West resolved that they would resist any attempt to deprive them the office of the national chairman of the party.

To this end, “a powerful delegation” is being constituted to demand and actualize the desire of the PDP members from the region.Besides, they claimed that those who rejected the position of the national chairmanship of the party, from the zone do not speak for the Yoruba people.

In a communiqué issued at the end of an extraordinary summit, the zone warned the party leadership not to deviate from the zoning principle of the founding fathers of the PDP, who in their wisdom structured the party in such a way that every region will have something to go home with at the end of the day.

According to the former deputy national chairman of the PDP, South West zone, Chief Olabode George, the Yoruba leaders alleged that in spite of their “very significant role in the advancement and growth of the party and the nation “they were being disregarded.”

To them, “The Yoruba people are being elbowed out of the power equation by the individual ambitions of some persons within the party … the Yoruba people are being treated with contempt and irrelevance.”

According to the Leaders, the Yoruba people will no longer tolerate nor accept the role of subservient player in the PDP as such, they called on members from the region to stand firm and reassert themselves.

They claimed that the Southwest was adequately prepared and well qualified to lead the PDP given their rich antecedents of history, knowledge and culture.

Similarly, they said that the Yoruba people would fight the good cause with determination, with fairness of purpose and with the formidable pursuit of the truth.

“Being a democratic and liberal people, the Yoruba are however open to further consultations and negotiations to sort out the issues at the appropriate forum,” the leaders added.

Explaining the danger it portends for the party if the present national leaders disregarded the feelings of the region, George urged the interim national chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff to respect his promises that he (Sheriff) would leave by May and hand over to a duly elected national chairman that will emerge from the national convention.

Giving a background of how the party got to where it has found itself, George said, “After the 2015 defeat by the All Progressives Congress (APC), we did a lot of analysis on what was responsible for our defeat and how to prevent future reoccurrence. The national chairman, Adamu Muazu resigned and there was a serious controversy whether his deputy then, Prince Uche Secondus, who was acting as chairman, should continue because the North East geopolitical zone, where Muazu came from, insisted that the zoning concept must be adhered to. Some of them even went to court to challenge Secondus and the party was crumbling.

“We had to pacify the northeast zone by asking them to go and bring someone since they were complaining that Secondus could not perpetrate himself in power, which brought about the issue of Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff. His (Sheriff) name raised some misgivings even from the North East zone, especially from Borno State because since 1998, Sheriff has been in the All Nigeria People Party (ANPP) fighting the PDP and for him to now come from the blues to head the PDP generated a lot of controversies. Even the Board of Trustees (BoT) kicked against his emergence but we used wisdom to pacify everybody that they should listen to what he has to offer. Fortunately the man made very brilliant and persuasive comments and he was allowed to become the transition chairman.”

He continued: “In fact he (Sheriff) told us that all the members of the working committee have accepted to leave and he will set up various committees for the convention. This was after we had done everything to placate our people. We told them that if we allow the party to fall there would be no alternative voice to the ruling party, which would be very dangerous for the country.

It was therefore shocking that some people from the South West zone went to the national secretariat to persuade Sheriff to continue and he himself now becomes ‘Akintola taku’, who wanted to perpetuate himself in office despite his promise to leave.”

In fact he (Sheriff) told us that all the members of the working committee have accepted to leave and he will set up various committees for the convention. This was after we had done everything to placate our people. We told them that if we allow the party to fall there would be no alternative voice to the ruling party, which would be very dangerous for the country

Wondering what issue could have suddenly made Sheriff to change his mind against his initial promise, George said it would not speak well of the party if the zoning arrangements was jettisoned in the coming convention.

“I will appeal that our members should not dismantle the culture of the party. We should not throw our heritage into the dustbin because the culture of zoning has sustained this party since 1998. You don’t zone laterally but based on north and south. Whatever is in the North must come to the South and vice versa. Once the presidency starts from the south, the vice must come from the north, the senate president must come from the south the speaker must come from the north and at the end we have three up and three down that’s why I always say this turn by turn Nigeria limited,” he said.

He also counseled Sheriff against any inordinate ambition that may likely distabilise the party.This may have prompted the decision of some members in the South West zone to contest the presidency on the PDP’s platform if the zone is deprived of its right in the coming convention.

Speaking against this backdrop, former Senator who represented the PDP for the Ekiti Central, Femi Kila said he was surprised to see some faces that he thought had defected to APC. He said the South West PDP needed to be harnessed properly to make sure the post of the national chairmanship was zoned to it as well as ensure that PDP in general was back on its feet come 2019.

Former Minister of sports Taoheed Adedoja, who specifically expressed interest in the national chairmanship position, said it is about equity and justice for the Yoruba race, demanding for the rights of the South West, because since the PDP was founded there has been nobody in the region that has occupied the office of the chairman.

Adedoja said that in the interim, the chairmanship of the PDP has been zoned to the north also with the intention of zoning the presidential candidate to the north adding: “this is unacceptable; the entire arrangement does not portray justice and fairness. The South West deserves the position of the chairmanship because we have highly qualified men and women with experience and the pedigree to lift this party to success in 2019.”

The Former minister who said he has the capacity and the required national overlook to contest the position of national chairman of the PDP, and that South West PDP must contest for the position of the chairmanship whether it was zoned to it or not.

He added that party was in need of a chairman who would not be a factional leader, a chairman who would be acceptable in all parts of the country and who has the capacity to reach out to all members of the party. H e claimed to have these qualities hence the decision to offer himself to serve as chairman of the PDP.

The Lagos State PDP Chairman, Capt. Tunji Shelle also said the region was gearing up for the contest of the national chairmanship because it was their right.



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