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On PDP chairmanship, South West still a troubled house

By Seye Olumide and Inemesit Akpan-Nsoh, Uyo
11 August 2016   |   4:39 am
The initial confidence demonstrated by the camp of the former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, to win the party’s national chairmanship at the coming ...
Makarfi

Makarfi

No plan to conspire against any region, says Akwa Ibom chapter

The initial confidence demonstrated by the camp of the former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, to win the party’s national chairmanship at the coming national convention, which was zoned to the South West and restricted to Lagos and Ogun states must have waned, going by recent developments in the zone.

So far, the Oyo, Ekiti, Osun and Ondo axis have dismissed the decision of the South West PDP leaders, who restricted the chairmanship to Lagos and Ogun axis. They insisted the battle must be left open for the entire aspirants in the zone to prove their popularity.

Among the three principal contestants, whose names were initially mentioned to be the possible candidate, Chief George appeared to have stood out as the most experienced and exposed with grip of the politics of the South West region and with more financial muzzle than the former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Ggenga Daniel and the governorship candidate of the party in Lagos, during the 2015 election, Mr. Jimi Agbaje.

However, with the fallout of the South West leadership meeting held on Monday in Akure, the capital city of Ondo, the equation so far, has changed. To cap it up, the submission of the PDP in South West zone as represented by the National Vice Chairman of the party, Chief Makajuola Ogundipe and the Secretary Chief Adepegba Ogundipe during a Tuesday meeting held in Ibadan made it explicit.

The battle has consequently become open “Nobody can predict where the governors, who are most likely to dictate the pendulum, are going,” says a source that was at the meeting.

The source specifically said that it would be foolhardy of Chief George and those supporting him to continue to rev “since Agbaje has started campaigning and the alleged withdrawal of Daniel from the race for Chief Raymond Dokpesi has not been confirmed; so Chief George would have to work harder.”

It was rumoured that Governor Segun Mimiko, as a result of his close rapour with Chief George, specifically advised him (George) that there would be need to pacify Dokpesi, who is at present campaigning vigorously across the country, not to partake in the exercise.

According to the source, “Mimiko was said to have enjoined Bode George to take a humble part and appeal to all interested parties within the zone to rally around him, otherwise the race has become dicey.”

Contrary to the statement someone from the camp of Chief George sent to the media immediately after the Akure meeting that he (George) has been adopted as a consensus candidate, the source, who is also close to the former deputy national chairman’s camp said, “nobody adopted anybody as consensus candidate during the meeting. As a matter of fact, anybody sending such signal is not helping Bode George’s ambition in anyway.”

According to him, “What Governor Mimiko told Chief George was that he would have to go and see the South-South and South East governors to convince them because they have made up their minds against having any of the older generations to lead the party, George inclusive. What they were craving for is a new and younger person that can reason along with them. To this end, Agbaje might fit into the governors’ choice.”

Apart from the fact that various interest groups in the South West have kicked against limiting the chairmanship to Lagos and Ogun, the South South and South East regions may be poised to repay the South West for supporting the North against former President Goodluck Jonathan during the 2015 presidential election that ultimately led to the defeat of the PDP at the centre.

According to the source, “This may have been the urge for Chief Dokpesi, who is forging ahead with his campaign despite the party’s zoning of the chairmanship to South West. Incidentally, Agbaje himself have started campaigning. It is therefore a very dicey situation.”

However, the PDP Publicity Secretary in Akwa Ibom State PDP, Ini Ememobong dismissed the insinuation of possible gang up by the South South and South East against any region, saying: “PDP is a party with difference. The position was deliberately zoned to the South West that has never tasted it before.”

Speaking with The Guardian in Uyo, Ememobong stressed that, despite the zoning, the exercise would witness a keenly contested and competitive convention come August 17th.

According to him, “The race, as competitive as members of the party foresee it to be, is however not without a direction, as the party has already zoned the National Chairmanship position to the South West region of the country, so as to do justice to a zone which has never produced one in such capacity since inception of the party.”

He admonished those seeking for the position of chairman of the party to campaign widely, adding that, the exercise would be open and transparent.

“As a party whose member is not on the saddle as president of the country at the moment, the issue of alliances and negotiation will be minimized, and winners will only emerge on the strength of their manifestos and perceived competence.

“I foresee a very competitive convention. Let people campaign, but we have zoned the National Chairmanship to the South West. That is the part of the country that has never tested the chairmanship position, and zoning is an integral part of the party, it is enshrined in our Constitution

“We are not like some people who their entire executive council can come from one region”, he said

The Akwa Ibom state spokesperson of the PDP further advised people contending for any position to exhibit the spirit of sportsmanship at the end of the convention, as one person would emerge at the end while others would lose.

“While we are looking forward to a robust but peaceful national convention of the party, contenders should equally foresee the possibility of someone emerging victorious and others loosing and therefore should prepare their minds to accept defeat where applicable ‎and willingly join hands to move the party forward”, he added.

The Publicity Secretary, who regretted that the party went to election against itself during the 2015 elections, assured that, measures have been put in place both at national and state levels to reconcile aggrieved members and restore oneness to the party.

“We are putting our house in order; we lost during the last general election because our people internally decided to embrace a deceptive change. In most states it was PDP against PDP, if the opposition was very strong why couldn’t they bring out their candidates?