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Lessons from PDP convention

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EMEKA NZE writes on the lessons from the Eagles Square, venue of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) convention.
The PDP convention has come and gone but its reverberations will continue to occupy political discourse, at least, until Nigerians shift attention to other topical matters that are likely to arise.

Adeyanju’s disqualification
The fate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seems to still hang in the balance given the protests that has trailed the convention.
Apart from protests by some leading aspirants, the immediate past Internal Auditor, Alhaji Adewole Adeyanju, has claimed that the process leading to the convention were skewed against his aspiration and that if not addressed that he is headed to the Court.
He was disqualified by the Ize-Iyamu’s screening committee over non possession of tax clearance and voter card. But Adeyanju said he had already tendered those documents to the committee but was not allowed to contest the election.
“I called the screening committee chairman, Chief Ize-Iyamu, of Edo state and reiterated that: My tax clearance number 3717321031 was contained in item 4 of the list of documents contained in my completed, submitted and acknowledged nomination forms.
“My voter card no. 90F5BILA77416068807 was contained in item 11 of the list of documents in my completed, submitted and acknowledged nomination form.
“The explanation of Chief Ize Iyamu was that my clearance certificate was not current. May I observe that we have started the way of impunity, which made our party to lose the 2015 general election? But I can assure you this will not stand.” Adeyanju threatened.
However, those who commented on Adeyanju’s plight said it served him right recalling that Adeyanju was one of the principal actors in the legal battle against the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee.
The battle did not only deprive the PDP the opportunity of winning Edo state, it was Ize-Iyamu that was the candidate of Edo state in that election and the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff faction, had fielded Adeyanju as a parallel candidate, who allegedly worked against the authentic PDP candidate.

Unity List:
The unity list had sparked off controversy at the venue causing Prof Tunde Adeniran and his supporters to stage a walk out.
On the list, Taiwo Akeju, Director, Media and Publicity, Tunde Adeniran Campaign Organization said, “We reject the entire electoral process of December 9, 2017. The election has been grossly compromised to achieve a predetermined end in line with the illegal Unity List prepared by Governor Wike and Ayodele Fayose and foisted on the entire delegates.
“Consequently, we submit that this election is a sham and the result therefrom is unacceptable. We reject it in its entirety.
“We consider this so-called election as a travesty of democracy and due process, which further entrenches the culture of impunity that has done a great damage to the party in the past.
“Our position is also that this election should be cancelled and the entire leadership of the party should be handed over to the Board of Trustees which we regard as the conscience of the party, to organise a credible election for the party in due cause”.
As observed by various analysts, stakeholders in the PDP could not have gone to a convention without aligning themselves in a group. Although it is not clear whether there will be sanctions against the printing of the list and distribution among the delegates on an election day, chairman of the convention committee, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa had in a pre-election briefing warned all contestants to stop all campaigns on Friday night.

A paradigm shift in control of power
It was interesting to watch the old breed slug it out with the new breed and the new having the upper hand this time. The governors signifying the new breed had worked for the emergence of Prince Uche Secondus as the chairman while the founding fathers struggled in vain to take control by throwing their weight behind one of their own, Prof Tunde Adeniran.
There were moves, both overt and covert, by the old breed to deliver Adeniran including following him to campaign around the country. The likes of Prof Jerry Gana and Senator Ibrahim Mantu can attest to the fact that they had preferred Adeniran to Secondus until the eleventh hour.
Even Gen Ibrahim Babangida through his aide, Prince Kassim Afegbua issued a statement where he deplored monitization of the PDP national convention, apparently campaigning against Prince Secondus, the only aspirant who had the blessing of his governor, Nyesom Wike.
Those who read Babagida’s recent statement on the monetization of politics in Nigeria were quick to recall that IBB may have forgotten that it was a legacy he bequeathed to Nigeria, which he is now preaching against.
An excerpt of the statement read: “In the last few days, I get frightened by the monetary consideration that is likely to dictate who emerges as the National Chairman of our great party rather than what the people truly want. “The discussion is more on the side of heavy monetization of the process and ultimate “procurement” of the position of the Chairman by the highest bidder.”
Those who hold this view reviewed the events leading to the emergence of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as the PDP chairman at the then Jos convention. According to them, Babangida and his military lackeys had turned the tide against late Dr Alex Ekwueme at the dying minute allegedly flooding the venue with bags of money.

Chief Bode George and the South-west
The withdrawal of Bode George from the race in the dying minute of the contest portrayed more of frustration and desperation to lead the party. There can never be an omelette without breaking an egg. Chief George wanted micro zoning of offices but he could not begin the process in the entire South.
The various attempts to reach a consensus among the numerous South West aspirants could not jell. When he found out that Secondus, a better politician, had done his homework and that he had little or no chance, he buckled by announcing a withdrawal.
Also his allegation of insult hauled on his person and the entire Yoruba race by Gov Wike was not an insult but the stark reality which an elder and statesman like him should have realised. George needed not telling that his position as a leader of PDP in the Southwest has not yielded much results as PDP has often be in opposition in the zone.
He needed no telling that not much has been zone to wield together the party which has preferred to speak in discordant tunes in the zone. He needed no telling that his influence in his Lagos state has not translated to victory for PDP.
All these Secondus has and continues to have. It will amount to teaching a student arithmetics at the university level for George to now learn that power is no given but worked for.

Dokpesi and Dan Obii
For High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, he underestimated the chairman of the PDP in Edo state his home state, Chief Dan Obii, who had placed an advert in one of the dailies showing that Edo delegates have endorsed Secondus. Were Dokpesi in tune with his PDP state chairman, he would have pre-empted the action and stopped it before it was late. Early at the convention ground, Dokpesi was first to speak to the press assuring he would never step down for anybody.
“I will never step down; this is a fight between the old school who believe they must sit down in the comfort of their air conditioned rooms and their offices and determine those who will emerge. I belong to the school the school of thought who believe that power must belongs to the people, to the peoples democratic party, that it is the delegates who will determine those who will emerge. I will not step down, I will not step down at all. I will not step down at anytime. My fate is in the hands of the Almighty God and the delegates that are here.”
It is however heartening that the media guru was one of those who has congratulated the winner of the convention. Dokpesi had put up a strong fight throughout the process. He would not brook any foul play coming from any quarters, including Second us. He was first to raise alarm on the unity list but he has equally said he does not want to go to court against the party.
He explained that the 21 names of candidates contained in the list appeared on the ballot papers as number one and in the voting boots as number one. He said complaints were lodged to the chairman of the PDP electoral committee Gabriel Susuan who confirmed that he has see the list with some delegate but he is overwhelmed.
Be it as it may, the performance of the PDP in the 2019 general election is premised on the ability of the incoming leaders to unify the party and ensure that aggrieved members are pacified before then. To this end, the victory speech of Secondus if pursued can go to greater extent to achieve this goal. Secondus said, “Under my watch, internal democracy will be strictly adhered to with a deliberate policy to return ‘real’ power to the people. No more imposition, no more impunity.”

 


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