By Henry Umoru
ABUJAâ€”THE National leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was last night still locked in a series of meetings in an attempt to get a consensus candidate for the vacant position of National Chairman of the party.
Until Sunday night, Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo, a former governor of Enugu state and former National Secretary of the party was the favoured candidate. But new developments emerging from supporters of ex-Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, Major General Ike Nwachukwu, Ken Nnamani and Chief Bernand Eze were to compound the search for the candidate.
This initially prompted the leadership of the party to declare to reporters yesterday that the race for who would eventually become the next National Chairman of the party was open to all States in the South-East Zone of the country.
Late last night PDP governors were said to be strongly against a new favoured candidate, Chief Bernand Eze, who is said to be the preferred candidate of the BOT chairman and former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
For the second time yesterday, a meeting scheduled to deliberate on how replacement for Prince Vincent Eze Ogbulafor who resigned as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, would emerge was cancelled.
The first meeting, called by former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, and billed to hold in Owerri under the aegis of PDP South East leaders meeting was shelved, just as the one which was to hold at the residence of Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu was also at the last minute cancelled.
But the meeting of 2008 former aspirants which took place at Penniel Apartments, Wuse, Abuja was still on even at the time of this report.
Vanguard gathered that the former aspirants who felt cheated at the convention where Prince Vincent Ogbulafor became the national chairman with the support of the PDP governors would present a position paper to President Goodluck Jonathan that one of them must be the National Chairman of the PDP at least to heal the inflicted wounds of March 8, 2008.
The source said the meeting was attended by nine aspirants and it took place at Suite A1A.
Chairmanship open to all South East states
The Party said the South-East zone had been meetingand would liaise with the Presidency to get a national Chairman for the party.
It said: â€œIn the ultimate analysis, the leadership of the zone will liaise with the leadership of the nation, the leader of the party in Nigeria and we will come up with a chairman who will be presented to the NEC.â€
National Vice Chairman, South East of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, who spoke with newsmen at the PDP National secretariat, Abuja, yesterday, noted that no governor or anybody in the party pushed Prince Vincent Ogbulafor to resign last week as the Chairman of the party.
He said that replacing Ogbulafor would not be immediate as it was going to take time just like what happened when Chief Audu Ogbeh resigned as National Chairman and was replaced by Amadu Ali as well as former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ojo Madueke who was replaced by Bernard Eze.
Also yesterday, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, who had resigned last week appeared at the partyâ€™s National Secretariat where he held talks with members of the National Working Committee, NWC. Since Thursday last week that he tendered the letter of resignation, Ogbulafor had not been sighted at Wadata Plaza.
pardIt was gathered that members of the NWC majority of who never knew he resigned felt there was the need for him to explain some aspects of the letter to them especially where he gave 30 days notice of resignation.
Metuh who said there would be no consensus for the new chairman to emerge against the backdrop the zone has capable and experienced personalities, said: â€œWe are only going to have a substantive chairman that will be presented to the NEC until we have a convention where you have an election. So it is not an election.
â€œThe South east has been meeting and I am very glad that there are so many candidates from the South east. What it means is that our strength in diversity is being showcased. We have so many people that can be national chairmen. It is something to be proud of being the National Vice chairman of the South east. So there is nothing wrong with many people running form the South east. We like it and we want more people to continue.â€
On whether Ogbulafor was forced to resign, he said: â€œHe held a discussion with the governors. I speak for myself and for the South east. National secretary is from the North central and I am putting it on record that he held a brotherly discussion with the governors of the South east where they put heads together on what to do and how to come to a resolution.
â€œThe process will throw up the chairman. But I hope you know that the resignation of the national chairman was not planned for. It was not constitutional and not envisaged. So automatically you donâ€™t expect a chairman to emerge immediately. It takes a process and consultation at all the levels and that is what is going on. More people are coming out and it is good for all the states of the South east. We are show casing our democratic talents. It is open to all parts of the east.â€
Meanwhile posters of former Military President of Nigeria, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, yesterday, flooded the national secretariat of the PDP buttressing the fact that he would contest the 2011 presidential election.
The posters read: â€œIBB, the desire of the people, the binding factor in our party, PDPâ€ â€œVote IBB for experience leadership,â€ â€œVote IBB for a new industrialized Nigeria,â€ â€œVote IBB for improved free qualitative education,â€ among others.