May 28/29 PDP National convention: Ortom lobbies Jonathan amid tension over 4000 delegates’ list

Benue state governor Samuel Ortom

Ahead of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention slated for May 28 and 29 to elect the party’s 2023 presidential candidate, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has met with former President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja.

The closed-door meeting that lasted 40 minutes took place Tuesday at the Abuja residence of the former president.

Ortom’s Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, said the meeting was held “in a bid to strengthen the PDP family ahead of the 2023 general elections.”

However, sources close to the party disclosed that Ortom, who was the minister of state, trade and investment under the administration of Jonathan met with the ex-president to lobby him to attend the forthcoming PDP national convention.

“The party wants to lobby Jonathan to attend the National Convention and work for PDP ahead and during the 2023 general elections,” another source said.

In the last two weeks, it was reported that the former president would seek re- election in 2023 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Though Jonathan denied the media report that he purchased the N100 million APC presidential expression of interest and nomination forms, his recent meeting with the party’s national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, suggested otherwise.

Mark, others okay venue

Meanwhile, Chairman PDP National Convention Organising Committee and former President of the Senate David Mark, has inspected the Moshood Kashimawo Abiola (MKO) Stadium in Abuja, the planned venue of the convention.

The 96th National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP had agreed that the party’s 2023 National Convention should hold in Abuja.

Considering the closeness of the date to that of the APC, the PDP opted for MKO Abiola Stadium, as the ruling party already paid to use Eagle Square, both in Abuja.

Exactly 10 days to the opposition party’s convention, Mark, in company with deputy chairman of the committee and governor of Enugu state, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, secretary of the committee and former governor of Katsina state, Ibrahim Shema, and former Minister of Information Professor Jerry Gana, inspected the close to 7000 capacity Velodrome and other facilities in the MKO Abiola Stadium  as the proposed venue.

Party congresses/primaries

Similarly, the party had in a letter to the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, dated 16th May 2022, and  jointly signed by PDP National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu and National Secretary Samuel Anyanwu, extended the dates for party congresses/primaries. 

As contained in the letter, the congresses and primaries are now scheduled to hold as follows: State House of Assembly – Saturday, May 21, 2022; House of Representatives – Sunday, May 22, 2022; Senate – Monday, May 23, 2022; Governorship – Wednesday, May 25, 2022.

The schedule was however silent on the date for the party’s presidential primary election.

The party also noted that due to the insecurity in the South-East region with the attendant sit-at-home order every Monday, the Senate primaries in the region will hold, Tuesday, May 24.

“In the case of the South-East region, due to the sit-at-home currently being observed on Mondays, the Senate primaries will now hold on Tuesday, May 24,” the statement added.

Blueprint gathered that the major reason for the shift of the primary/congresses was the unresolved controversy around the delegates list.

Over 3,000 delegates participated in the party’s last National Convention held in Abuja 30th of October.

Consequently, about 4,000 delegates are expected to partake in the forthcoming convention.

The party, according to its 2023 schedule of activities, was supposed to publish a comprehensive delegates’ list Tuesday (17th May, 2022), but could not do so due to agitation over the list by the presidential aspirants and other party stakeholders.

Generally, party stakeholders were left in the dark about when the delegates’ list would be published.

A credible source who did not want his name mentioned in print, said “the major issue is the delegates’ list. Though the process is ongoing, agitation and struggle over delegates among 2023 presidential aspirants are making it difficult for the party to conclude the process.”

The source also disclosed that “the party is working round the clock to resolve all issues and complete the compilation of the delegates’ list to meet up with the INEC deadline.”