By Emeka Nze, Abuja
Seven out of the eight Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairmanship aspirants, yesterday, signed a peace accord, pledging to shun violence and accept the result of the forthcoming National Convention scheduled for December 9.
Although Chief Olabode George was said to have sent in his apologies earlier in Enugu last Sunday for being absent at the occasion, one of the aspirants and former Minister for Sports and Special Duties, Prof Taoheed Adedoja, was said to be airborne at the time of the event and would be arriving later to sign the peace accord.
The pact titled: “National Chairmanship Aspirants accord on Prevention of Violence and Acceptance of Election Result at the elective National Convention holding in Abuja in December”, was signed by the six aspirants present as well as the campaign managers in the presence of members of the National Working Committee (NWC).
Those who signed the peaceful accord were former governorship candidate of the PDP in Lagos state, Hon Jimi Agbaje, former governor of Ogun state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and former governor of Oyo state, Rashidi Ladoja.
Others were a former acting chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, one time Education Minister, Prof Tunde Adeniran and Founder of Daar Communication, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi.
The document was articulated by the aspirants and presented to the party for confirmation before it was presented for formal endorsement by the contestants.
The peace document was a proactive measure to prevent violence during and after the election and also ensure a peaceful environment at the convention venue.
The document prohibits decamping from the party if a candidate was unsuccessful and stressed that any aspirants discovered to have induced delegates financially or lodging them in a hotel or picked up their bills will be disqualified.
Excerpts of the peace treaty read: “No aspirant shall leave the party or encourage his or her supporters, promoters etc to do so, as a result of the outcome of the National Chairmanship election at the elective National Convention;
“Any breach of the 2015 zero expenditure policy of the party, which prohibits the use of monetary inducement, including lodging of delegates and providing money for votes, shall not be tolerated in the 2017 National elective convention and shall be a ground for disqualification on or before the 9th December, 2017.
“Any aspirant /sponsor /supporter /financier, proven to have done anything contrary to the agreements reached herein and in circumstances that suggest the knowledge of the undersigned persons shall be disqualified from contesting the National Chairmanship election.”
Speaking on behalf of other aspirants, Chief Rasheed Ladoja said, “It is usual in politics that people should fight for positions and it is an aberration that when you lose, you leave . When you joined the party, you did not join to become the chairman or secretary but to be a member.”
He said that the aspirants were committed to a peaceful convention and will do everything possible to put their supporters in checks. We shall try to control our supporters so that they do not cause injury to themselves and to other supporters. All of us are serious at making our party great because of the yearning of Nigerian to find a credible alternative.
“People may say all sorts of thing about politicians but all over the world, there is no alternative to politicians. We pledge that as long as the convention is transparent, you have our support. All of us are committed to this party” the aspirants pledged.
On the possibility of a consensus candidate from the South-west, he said that election is a contest and when it is narrowed down to a one man show, it loses its flavour.
“It is not compulsory that the South-west will come with a consensus candidate. As much as possible, we will try but everybody believes that he can win” he added.
Earlier in his keynote address, the party’s chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarafi, said that this level of commitment wa “unprecedented in the PDP not to talk of in other parties that are undemocratic.
“You developed the Peace agreement, the first in history and presented it to the party and we looked at it. That to us is a sign of greatness, that is, the sign of good things to come.
“We want the convention to be transparent, free and fair and we want it to be conducted in good time. It is good when people talk with each other and resolve some positions so that those positions that are very competitive, we have to go for an election.
“PDP has always worked along that line but what we have refused to do is to force any candidate on anybody,” Makarafi emphasised.
Making some clarifications that the South-east governors failed to persuade the party to drop their ambition for their preferred aspirant in Enugu, Makarafi continued; “our meeting in Enugu was to map out the best strategies to ensure that the convention was conducted in a transparent manner.”
He assured that George would come to the party headquarters today to sign the peace pact.