*Anyim, Ulasi, Iroche, Rex Onyebo, Izuogu top the list
*2008 aspirants want to have it
*Aspirants summoned to a meeting Tuesday in Abuja
By Henry Umoru
NO fewer than 10Â nocturnal meetings have been held by stakeholders to get a replacement for Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, who last week resigned as the National Chairman ofÂ the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, following his trial in court over alleged N2.3 billion fraud.
It was gathered yesterday that all interested aspirants for the position have been summoned to a meeting for tomorrow in Abuja at 5p.m. to discuss how the number of aspirants could be trimmed to two or three.
Speaking with Vanguard on the meeting, the convener and former PDP chairmanship aspirant, Chyna Iwuanyanwu, stressed that it was designed to make the struggle less contentious by bringing the number down to two or three.
He added that: â€œwe cannot dictate, but advice that a choice be made from the 2008 Chairmanship aspirants at least to correct the injustice. We are considering that the core aspirants should be considered this time to address the injustice, absence of democracy was the problem.â€
Before Sunday, names that were being touted to clinch the position were former Secretaries of the party, Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo and Bernard Eze from Enugu State; ex-Minister of External Affairs, Senator Ike Nwachukwu, from Abia State and former Senate president, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim from Ebonyi State.
Though what may work for Nwachukwu is the fact that as Chairman, PDP Elders Reconciliation Committee, he handled it well as most states were reconciled though crises still rage in Akwa Ibom, Ogun, Oyo, among others.
But at the end of Sunday meeting, it was also gathered that the 2008 former aspirants who described themselves as ”core aspirants” must be allowed to have the position, adding that it must be done to address what they noted as injustice done to them at Eagle Square on 8 MarchÂ 2008 when the PDP governors schemed them out and brought in Ogbulafor as the Chairman.
At the end of the meeting held in Maitama, Abuja, names being mentioned for the race were former Senate President, Chief Pius Anyim Pius, Chief Dan Ulasi, Rex Onyebo, Sonny Iroche, Ezekiel Izuogu with names like Nwodo, Ike Nwachukwu, Nwodo and Bernard Eze missing.
According to the source, Nwodo, Nwachukwu and Eze were not aspirants in 2008, even as they are of the opinion that the former Foreign Affairs Minister hails from Abia, same state with Ogbulafor, Nwodo and Eze are from Enugu State thatÂ has the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
Dan Ulasi former Chairman, Caretaker Committee, Anambra State, though from the state is being penciled down for the position because he is seen as very principled and has enough democratic profile and credentials from the time of National Republican Convention, NRC where he was the Chairman as well as founding member of the National Executive of United Nigeria Congress Party(UNCP), among others.
Another outcome of the meeting, the source said was that decampees should stay of the race, the likes of Nwodo, Nwachukwu, Izuogu were sighted as examples, adding that Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu was ANPP governorship candidate before he moved to PDP, thereafter was a Board of Trustees,(BoT) member and shortly after three months, he left and contested on the platform of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA before he returned to PDP.
This also affected Nwodo who left PDP for the Action Congress and returned back. A source at the Abuja meeting said what may work against Nwodo is that he currently faces corruption charges over the national ID card scam at an Abuja High Court.
Vanguard gathered that the meetings which were being held in Enugu, Owerri, Lagos and Abuja have been between the aspirants as well as the South East Eminent Leaders Caucus.
In Abuja yesterday, a meeting which started Saturday night started in Asokoro and later taken to Danube street, Maitama, a house of a prominent son of the South East and ended 3am Sunday morning, just as it continued yesterday at 3.3pm.
It would be called that the embattled Vincent Ogbulafor resigned under pressure on Thursday as National Chairman of the PDP, just as the presidency was said not to be comfortable working with him because of the moral burden of his alleged graft by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) that had arraigned him and four others to court for a fraud of N104m allegedly committed while he was a Minister in during former President Olusegun Obasanjoâ€™s administration. After he was arraigned last week Monday, pressure began to mount on him to resign.
Also recall that in 2008, some of these big names contested for the Chairmanship position against the backdrop that it was zoned to the South-East. Some of these names were former Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim, ex- Ebonyi State governor and immediate past Education Minister, Dr. Sam Egwu, Rochas Okorocha, Dan Ikechukwu Ulasi, Frank Ogbuewu, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Soni Iroche, Barrister Noel Agwuocha, Chukwuemeka Kanu; Tony Anyanwu, Dr. Ilechukwu Meshac, Dr. Nnamdi Ozobia, Chief Chyna Iwuanyanwu, Dr. Aneze Chinwuba; Rex Onyebo, and Senator Ebenezer Ikeyina, among others.