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PDP convention: Zoning squabbles take the shine off ward congresses




Ahead of today’s local government area congress of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), confusion, squabbles and crisis still reign supreme in the party nationwide.

Although the dust raised by the ward congresses were yet to be settled, it appears to have taken the back seat with the disputations over the zoning formula particularly that of the offices of the national chairman and the deputy national chairman heightening by the day.

In particular, the South West zone which has gradually become the deciding factor in presidential elections in recent times, has been hard hit by the bickering over those for and against the zone producing the national chairman at the Port Harcourt convention.

South South is divided over the alleged ambition of Prince Uche Secondus to return to the National Working Committee of the party as deputy national chairman.

The leadership of the party and the different organs of the party were said to have resolved that no member of the current NWC should be returned but The Guardian learnt that Secondus allegedly backed by Governor Nnyesom Wike of Rivers state is determined to come back as the deputy national chairman of the party.

Another area of the dispute, sources disclosed yesterday was the decision to split the office of the deputy national chairman. It was proposed that there would be two deputy national chairmen – North and South.

The deputy national chairman North has been zoned to the North West with the former governor of Kano state, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau penciled down for the office while the deputy national chairman South was zoned to the South South.

But sources have claimed that the PDP governors from the South South were divided over the aspiration of Secondus. Edo/Delta axis was said to have been proposed to produce the deputy national chairman

Besides, it was alleged that the Wike/Secondus camp has been pressuring the national chairman, Senator Alli Modu Sheriff not to split the office of the deputy national chairman.

“We have resolved as a party to split the office into two, North and South for better spread and acceptability but governor Wike and his group who want to bring back Secondus want to scatter our plans”, an official of the party from the North alleged asking “Where do they want us to put our leader Shekarau?”

But a source close to the Wike group denied the claim arguing that at no point was it unanimously agreed that no member of the NWC should re-contest.

In the South East, the deputy president of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu whom some claimed was not initially comfortable with Sheriff, has been approached to produce national organizing secretary as compensation and one rtd. Col Austin Akubundu is being touted for the position.

Also in the South East, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state would be producing the national youth leader.

The woman leader is going to Sokoto/Zamfara axis while in the North Central, which has been relatively peaceful, the position of deputy national secretary will go to Benue state and the financial secretary will go to Kwara state.

The national chairman remains in the North East and The Guardian gathered that the office has been personally zoned to Sheriff and that has been the bone of contention in the South West

The party in the zone split into two factions a month ago, following the zoning of the chairmanship to the North. The Fayose/Kashamu camp endorsed the zoning and backed Sheriff’s chairmanship aspiration.

Other Southwest leaders, led by a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) Chief Olabode George and Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo state, opposed it, saying that the slot should have been zoned to the Southwest.

The two factions held separate meetings yesterday Akure, the Ondo State capital, and Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State, to discuss it’s proposed national convention.

Whatever decision by the two groups, the fact remains that the party has been polarized and further weakened even as it goes for the national convention in Port Harcourt in less than 17 days from today.

Already the outcome of the ward congress across the country has indicated that PDP has much to do to resolve its differences to act as one body on one hand and to win the confidence of Nigerians on the other hand

For instance, a member of the party’s BoT and former Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri, disclosed that some elders and founding fathers of the PDP across the country recently met and rejected the processes leading to the national convention.

He said the congresses were not conducted in line with the party’s guidelines and constitution.

His words: “As one of the founding fathers of the Peoples Democratic Party and long-time member of the Board of Trustees, I wish to express serious concern over the procedures leading to the national convention of our party; the last Saturday congress was a false start.”

In Delta State, the exercise was said to have been conducted peacefully without rancor. The state chairman of the party, Chief Edwin Uzor told The Guardian that the party did not encounter any problem in the state because the congress was properly organized.

However, it was gathered that members had reached a consensus prior to the congress and that they merely showed up to formalize what had been agreed upon.

Reports from Imo state indicated that the ward congress was characterised largely by a tussle for supremacy over the state party structure between former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha and Senator Hope Uzodinma.

Besides, the congress, which has Chief Sargent Awuse as the Returning Officer, was allegedly marked by fracas in some areas as well as claims of duplication of delegates list.

In Ngor Okpala, rival groups clashed physically while in Orlu zone, the delegates list was allegedly torn by a prominent party member, and in Okigwe zone, sources claimed that three lists were in circulation in addition to the hijacking of delegates list in Ohaji/Egbema axis.

These incidences however may not have scuttled the exercise as the organisers proceeded with the collation of the results in spite of protest by some over the use of option A4 in the exercise.

The ward congress in Gombe state was generally peaceful and successful except in Billiri local government area where it was alleged that two groups – those for and those against consensus – clashed and rendered it inconclusive in the area.

“It is disheartening and regrettable that some party leaders in this state can resolve to put us in this state. Our party gave a directive concerning consensus and because of personal and selfish interests some persons are scuttling the process,” a member of the party lamented.

On his part, the Secretary of PDP Congress Committee for Gombe, Dr. Jacob Audu hinted that he could not speak on what transpired in the entire state because he was restricted to one ward.

There was an early drama as former Special Adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak was alleged to have hijacked the congress materials meant for Adamawa state.

The state chairman of the party, Chief Joel Madaki had accused Gulak of illegally collecting the congress materials for the state, revealing that when he went to Abuja to get the materials, he was told that Gulak had collected them.

He claimed that it was a deliberate plan by Gulak to capture the PDP structure in the state.

But Gulak who admitted receiving the materials explained that he stood as guarantor for the state in collecting the materials stressing that there was no ulterior motive.

According to him, Adamawa chapter of the party could not raise the over N9million required to get the forms hence he decided to intervene adding: “When I collected the forms, I saw two members of the Committee for Adamawa state and I handed over the materials to them. I don’t want to join issues with Madaki but he should know that I won’t do anything inimical to the progress of our party.”

Initial disagreement between two groups necessitated the shifting of the ward congress in Adamawa state form Saturday to Monday according to the Organising Secretary of PDP in the state, Alhaji Abdulahi Prambe.

He said after the early hitches the congress held under a peaceful atmosphere but explained that the results were yet to be ready because some local government areas have not turned in theirs.

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