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High pitch politics herald PDP national convention



Three days to the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the politics of who emerges as the national chairman of Nigeria’s main opposition party has reached a high pitch.

Members of the Southwest zone of the party have for instance, raised alarm over an alleged adoption of one of the aspirants for the chairmanship position, Mr. Uche Secondus, by some stakeholders in the South-South zone describing it as a call to arms against the Yoruba people.

Raising the alarm yesterday, former Minister of Transport and member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said the insistence and protestation of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State that the South-South is the zone that is providing succor for the PDP is crude and insensitive.

Dismissing Wike’s claim as total fallacy, Babatope said, “Right from the formation of the PDP in 1998, the Yoruba people have been consistent in their devotion and loyalty to the party. And they have been very supportive in adding financial fillip to it.”

Although the BoT member said the Rivers governor was not really the one to blame, he threw the blame at the Chairman, Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, whom he accused of being blinded by personal ambition and apparent greed that could not make him think clearly and selflessly about the issue at hand.

According to Babatope, “It is Makarfi who has deliberately mangled and distorted the micro-zoning tradition of our great party, which has given the PDP well over 16 years of inclusive and all embracing accommodating nature.

“Now the very fundamental fabric and dominating principle of the party is torn asunder. We are no longer at ease.”

He said the pronouncement of the South-South stakeholders was not only provocative “it is divisive, skewed, untidy, and a blatant slide into tribal political arrangement,” wondering whether the region think the good people of Southwest will just sit down and take it.

Said he, “The Yoruba people will never play second fiddle to anyone. We will never be servile to anyone at all. And most importantly, we will never compromise on the position of the national chairman of our great party. It is our turn! And this much must be respected. Anything less than this is unacceptable. This is why Makarfi must recue himself from the composition of all committees of the convention. Makarfi is not honest. He is working for Wike. That is the absolute truth.”

However, a top member of the party, who spoke for Makarfi on condition of anonymity yesterday said the strong words deployed by Babatope is nothing to be reacted to, few days to the convention.

According to him, “The issue at hand is not about personal, regional or selfish interest but the larger interest of the country and how to reposition the PDP to regain power at the centre.”

While he appealed to all aggrieved members of the party, particularly some section of the Southwest, the source assured that the convention would be very transparent and fair.

Reacting on the development yesterday, Secondus appealed for understanding as he also pledged to run an inclusive leadership, saying there is nothing to fear by other aspirants about his chairmanship.

He said his leadership would give everybody a sense of belonging while also guaranteeing good governance within the party.

Said he, “All interests would be accommodated; we will ensure a level playing for all contending forces within the party. We will not engage in winners take all. All stakeholders will have a sense of belonging, as we will enforce the party constitution. Please ignore those spreading fears and alarms about my candidature.”

He explained that those spreading rumours about what the party will look like under his leadership are mere blackmailers “I have occupied that chair before and our records of glowing performance speaks for us. We performed creditably in all capacities we have been opportune to serve.”

In a similar tone of caution, another aspirant from the Southwest, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja cautioned the leadership of the PDP to heed the warning of former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, who in a statement urged the party to realise the fact the choice of PDP motto; ‘Power to the people,’ was in sync with the clear objective of recognising the people as the repository of power.

Quoting from what the former Military President, Adedoja noted that in any democratic engagement, the people decide the outcome of elections through popular and inclusive participation.

He posited that the “The monetisation of the electoral process is disturbingly eroding that power which should ordinarily reside in the people.”

Meanwhile, former Special Adviser to erstwhile Senate President on media, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan has said he remains the best person for the job of the PDP Publicity Secretary.

He therefore urged the delegates of the PDP to vote for him massively.Ologbondiyan spoke yesterday at the PDP Secretariat in Lokoja while addressing party delegates to the convention.

Ologbondiyan said having worked as a journalist for over 25 years and served as a Media Aide to the Senate President and a loyal PDP member, he stands shoulder high than any other contestant even as he pleaded with the delegates to cast their votes for him.

He said the PDP has learnt a great lesson having lost the 2015 presidential election expressing the hope that the party is bouncing back stronger.

“For me in our party we want to get it right and so we need a media manager to run the publicity department of our party as at today.

“When APC was in the struggle to take power from us they drafted a journalist and they assembled the best of journalists at the background who did all the propaganda and the lies against our party, who tagged us and gave us all sorts of names.

“Today I am offering myself because I am a journalist, a media active person and I know the roots of media practice, I know the environment which I am going to function and I also know the capacity of my opponents and as such I believe that among the aspirants as they are today, there is no body that is better qualified than I am to help our party as it is today.”

According to him the APC has failed Nigerians and is only dishing out lies and half truths to the masses saying the party is now neck deep into all the allegations leveled against the PDP that made them to win the 2015 presidential election.

“For me I believe that PDP is better placed before Nigerians. Yes there are members of our party who have been accused of malfeasance but they have not been convicted. There are members of the ruling party who have been accused of spending millions of naira to cut grass and they have not been tried or arrested.”

He said all they see is an administrative investigation that brought an administrative report, which ended up in the cousin of the person, being appointed as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

“What do you call that? Has that happened in the PDP government? No, in the PDP government our members were arrested by PDP government, our members were tried by PDP government and even convicted by PDP government.”

He said in the present scenario, a government that prides itself as agent of anti corruption is covering corruption stressing that in the next election the chances of PDP are bright because APC is a party of corruption, the party itself is corruption personified.”

Ologbodiyan indicated that he has no problems with consensus building provided it is going to favour him because he is the best candidate.

However he said any consensus arrangement that is going to bring somebody who does not know how to do media job is bound to fail because he a part of the media.

“If I am the media publicity secretary of PDP today you know the import of it so I urge to let us canvass this position because we cannot continue to be press boys at the age of 60.

The state PDP chairman, Mr. Sam Uhuoto who was represented by his Deputy, Sam Abenemi urged the delegates to vote for Ologbondiyan saying he has made his mark in his chosen profession and has been tested and trusted.

Some delegates who spoke on the occasion also described Ologbondiyan as a man of high integrity who has the intellectual and oratorial capacity to be the spokesman of the party.

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