BY HENRY UMORU
AFTER much dithering , the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is set to tomorrow, correct the avoidable mistakes that shadowed last year’s national convention.
The PDP will at tomorrow’s special convention elect officials to fill the gaps created by the resignation of some NWC members on June 20, 2013. The resignations were sequel to the stance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), that the affected PDP officers were not validly elected as stipulated by the PDP’s own regulations.
The PDP, as usual, will have to manage intrigues, maneuvering, blackmail, scheming and political tongue-lashing.
At its June 20 National Executive Committee, NEC meeting, the party set up a Special Convention Planning Committee with former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana as chairman; Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom (deputy chairman); and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, as secretary.
But a few days after the committee was constituted, issues of lopsidedness in the composition of the team came up. There were complaints that the three topmost members were all Christians. At the end of the day, Nigeria Ambassador to China, Ambassador Aminu Wali was brought in as co-deputy chairman and former acting National Secretary, Dr. Musa Babayo, as deputy secretary with the NWC convention fixed for July 20, and zonal congress for South-West, July 11. However, the dates were later changed with the South-West congress fixed for August 24, which has now been postponed on account of legal intrigues and the National Convention slated for tomorrow.
The party at its 62nd NEC meeting, last week, bowed to a court injunction restraining the conduct of the South-West zonal congress in line with its disposition to upholding the rule of law and in deference to the court ruling.
The party postponed the zonal congress and gave the NWC the assignment to follow through the court process and set a new date for the congress thereafter.
Why the Special convention?
It became imperative for PDP to hold this Special National Convention to regularize the membership of the NWC and give the leadership credibility as failure to do this may lead to subsequent elections or congresses conducted by the Tukur-led NWC being questioned in court.
Failure to regularize the NWC membership may also hand the opposition an arsenal to nail the PDP ahead of the 2015 presidential primaries.
The INEC in its report on the conduct of March 24, 2012 National Convention of the PDP criticized the processes: ”The mode of election adopted for single candidates was not in accordance with the mode of election stipulated in paragraph 6.5 (i) of the guidelines for the conduct of the year 2012 congresses and national convention and therefore not acceptable to the commission”.
The electoral umpire declared that only four NWC members were duly elected while the rest were elected outside the guidelines set for the convention.
Those who were found to have been properly elected were the National Chairman, Tukur; former National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; former National Auditor, Bode Mustapha and National Financial Secretary, Elder Bolaji Anani. Mustapha has since been replaced by Adewale Adeyanju as national auditor.
Pushing for the implementation of the INEC’s report, three PDP members, Hon. Abba Yale, Alhaji Aruwa Sule and Bashir Maidugu, through their lawyer, Barrister Joni Icheka, approached the court and prayed for a declaration that all the 18 members of the PDP-NEC affected in the suit were illegally elected, having failed to comply with the provisions of Articles 2, Articles 16 (1) and (3) and violating Sections 6.6, Section 6.0 (ii), and the contents of pages 17 of the Guidelines for the Conduct of Year 2012 ward, LGA, state, zonal congresses and National Convention of the PDP.
They also asked the court for a declaration as to “whether by the provisions of Article 13 (6); 13 (14) and (15) and Article 27 (2) of the PDP constitution, the composition and or continuous composition of the PDP by the unqualified defendants 2nd to 6th is a nullity”.
As a result of this, the affected national officers resigned thus leaving Tukur to work with only the National Financial Secretary, Elder Bolaji Anani and the National Auditor, Adewale Adeyanju.
Those affected by the report were the then Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja; National Organizing Secretary, Abubakar Mustapha; National Youth Leader, Alhaji Garba Chiza; Deputy National Youth Leader, Dennis Alonge Niyi; Deputy National Auditor, Senator Umar Ibrahim; Deputy National Woman Leader, Hannatu Ullam and National Woman Leader, Kema Chikwe.
Also affected were then Deputy National Organizing Secretary, Okechukwu Nnadozie; Deputy National Treasurer, Claudus Inengas; National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwon; National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh and Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Binta Masi-Garba.
The PDP NEC subsequently appointed the following to work with Tukur in acting capacity Chibudom Nwuche, acting deputy national chairman, Remi Akintoye (acting national secretary); Senator Emma Agboti (acting deputy national secretary); Yusuf Hamisu Abubakar (acting national organizing secretary); Tony Caesar Okeke (acting national publicity secretary)and Simon Jok (acting national legal adviser).
There were also Barrister Tanko Beji (acting national youth leader); Oyibo Nwaneri (acting national woman leader); Yau Kwadon (acting deputy national legal adviser); Peter Adefunmilayo (acting deputy national youth leader); Nasiru Ibrahim Birchi (acting deputy national auditor); Mrs. Torkwase Ajoh (acting deputy national women leader); Mohammed Dandari (acting national treasurer) and Awwalu Gwadabe, deputy national financial secretary, .
The rest were Onyemaechi Ikechukwu Jideofor, acting deputy national organizing secretary; Augustine Lugbenwei, acting deputy national treasurer; Calib Yahaya, acting deputy national treasurer; with Chief Akin Taiwo, Tope Ademiluyi, Chief Mike Akinfenwa and Gbenga Oduwaiye as acting ex-officio members.
Positions to be contested
At tomorrow’s exercise, 21 positions are up for grabs with 84 candidates in contention. The offices are Deputy National Chairman, Deputy National Secretary, National Organizing Secretary, Deputy National Organizing Secretary, National Publicity Secretary, Deputy National Publicity Secretary, National Treasurer, Deputy National Treasurer, National Legal Adviser, Deputy National Legal Adviser, National Woman Leader; Deputy National Woman Leader, National Youth Leader, Deputy National Youth leader, Deputy National Youth Leader, Deputy Financial Secretary, Deputy National Auditor and four ex-officio members.
Those running for the deputy national chairmanship are past National Organising Secretary, Prince Uche Secondus; immediate past Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Jaja Sam Jaja; Opusunju Silva; Omu Stella Unuezi, Isibor Dongo Peter; and High Chief Jerome A. Eke.
For National Secretary are Chief Babatope Ebenezer, Owolabi Babalola Isaac, Oladipo Adewale Abiodun, Kayode Adetokunbo Adeyinka, Salis Owolabi, Sarumi Oladapo Babatunde, Adeniran Tunde, and Oke Olusola Alex.
For the position of deputy National Secretary are Onwe Solomon Onwe and Nwonu Ephraim Iyke. Those for National Organizing Secretary are: former Head of Service, Kaduna State and immediate past National Organising Secretary, Mustapha Abubakar and Sidi Ibrahim Bamalli.
Aspirants for the position of deputy national organizing secretary are Okigbo Patrick Ogechukwu; Nwangwu Innocent, Nnaedozie Okechukwu, Uchechukwu Chukwuma Ogbonna, Prof Ezeh Nicholas Chika and Engr Okolo Christopher.
For national publicity secretary are Metuh Olisa, Chidebe-Samuel Chidi, Ononuju Katchy .B. Onyedika, Akwaugo .A. Iloanya, Iwuanyanwu Chyna, Nwosu Caroline, Aroh Okey Muo, Anyanwu Longers Nzennata, Offodile Chudi, Nwabuona Anthony, and Madueke Obi Christian.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary slot has Elias John Babani, Barrister Maidugu Bashir and Tijani Kwaji Kwaghe as contenders.
For the position of National Treasurer are Gwandu Bala Labbo and Bala Buhari.
Angling for the National Woman leader position are Kema Chikwe Nonyerem, Nosike Ann Frances, Nwabueze Nikky Nkiru, Ibeneme Heplizibah Chika, Nnadi Betty Hukaku, Orubele Ngozi Bernadette; Chukukere (Dr.) Gloria Chineze, Uchegbu Kate Ada, Ineh Lady Love Ihuoma and Onuoha-Ibezim Mariam.
For National youth leader are the controversial immediate past occupier of the post, Alhaji Garba Umar Chiza from Niger State, who has been alleged to be more than 60 years old, Mohammed Mariam Al-Hassan, Ugboho Ajon, Baba Wakili, Adeyemi Olabode John and Hussaini Abdullahi Maibasira.
The position of deputy national youth leader are Muham’med Abdulganiy (Gani), Ogunmilade Olubiyi Felix; Alonge Olaniyi O. Dennis and Aisida Victor Modupe while deputy national financial secretary position has Gwalabe Auwalu Abdu and Deputy national auditor Alhaji Lawal D. Anche.
For national ex-officio are Olasehinde Fumilayo Abiola, Fashola – Ikwue Margaret Kikelomo, Koshoedo Setonji Gbemen, Adebiyi Olubunmi Agbeke, Mrs. Ogunsakin Olayinka Florence, Akinfenwa Michael Akinade Oladafe, Ojo Mercy Adesewa, Olorunsogo Esther Olukerni, Yinka Ogunbiyi Tolu; Mrs. Adedeji Otiti, Teju Omotosho Olamide, Alhaji Akanbi Bashiru Adewale, Adebajo-Fraser Princess Gloria, 0lu Wale, Olowofoyeku Ayotunde, Osinroluke-Euba Olawunmi Taiwo and Dakova-Vauqhan David Kolawole.
Unopposed candidates: Some candidates are running unopposed. They include: Enegesi Claudius Godsave, deputy national treasurer; Kwon Victor national legal adviser, Ullam Hanatu (deputy national woman leader) and Jalo Abdullahi Ibrahim, deputy national legal adviser.
Leading candidates and their chances
Prince Uche Secondus: Secondus who is from Andoni Local government Area of Rivers State, was born March 22, 1955, was a two-term chairman of Rivers State chapter of PDP and National Organising Secretary from 2008 to 2012 and he showed interest in March 2012 for the position of Deputy National Chairman he wants now. Secondus is being favoured by the political pendulum in Rivers with Felix Obuah now in charge. He lost out then to Sam Sam Jaja who still wants the position because of the politics of Rivers State where Governor Chibuike Amaechi was in total control of the sacked Godspower Ake-led State Executive.
There were speculations that Amaechi was not comfortable with Uche Secondus’ rising political profile, experience and influence and ensured that he was frustrated out of the race.
Besides his political experience, Secondus understands the workings of PDP, having been a longstanding operative of the party at state and national levels. Secondus is also alleged to be the anointed candidate of the Steve Oru-led South-South Zonal Executive Committee of the party and he belongs to the Nyesom Wike group that at the moment is fighting Governor Amaechi of Rivers. Secondus was said to have been endorsed at last week’s South-South Caucus meeting of the meeting. Monday’s suspension of Jaja by the Felix Obuah-led executive has further cleared the coast for him.
Abubakar Mustapha: Though two persons picked the form for the position of National Organising Secretary, but Abubakar Mustapha who resigned June 20 is the leading candidate. He is from Kaduna State, the state the position was zoned to by the North-West and he is believed to be an ally and a direct nominee of Vice President Namadi Sambo. Mustapha was Head of Service during Sambo’s governorship of Kaduna State.
Solomon Onwe: Onwe Solomon Onwe is from Ebonyi State. He resigned recently as Deputy National Secretary. Onwe may be returned to the office against the backdrop that he has a very good working relationship with Governor Martin Elechi, who was at Wadata Plaza on a solidarity visit soon after Onwe came on board.
Olisa Metuh: Metuh stands out among other contestants for the position of National Publicity Secretary. Within the short period he stayed before his resignation, Metuh overhauled the publicity unit of the PDP.
He is from Anambra State that is retaining the position; he has been endorsed by stakeholders, leaders of the party from the South-East and in particular from Anambra State.
But the only challenge which is normal in politics is scheming by other aspirants from the zone and in particular from Anambra State. Metuh is also faced with intriguing schemes by some aspirants to stop him through the courts. He has petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria over alleged clandestine moves of those he described as over zealous aspirants.
Kema Chikwe: Kemafo Chikwe has nine other women who are also interested in the position. But she is a leading candidate ready to use her position as member, Board of Trustees, BoT, NEC to her advantage. Last year she counted on the advantage she got from the Southeast caucus to win the position.