…Dokpesi, Adeniran protest result
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Henry Umoru and Dirisu Yakubu
Barring any last-minute miracle, Prince Uche Secondus was set to emerge as the winner in the contest for the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last night.
The development left two other candidates for the post, Chief Raymond Dokpesi and Prof. Tunde Adeniran, protesting.
Secondus was expected to emerge officially as the PDP National Chairman at the party’s national convention held at the Eagle Square, Abuja, after sorting and counting of votes.
The two separately declared their rejection on the basis of the circulation of a Unity List among the delegates.
They made their submissions just as delegates finished voting even before the votes were collated.
Dokpesi told newsmen that the process of voting had been rigged, following the distribution of a unity list containing names of candidates believed to have won elections into various national leadership positions in the party.
He said complaints were lodged with the chairman of the PDP Electoral Committee Chairman Gabriel Suswan who confirmed that he had seen the list with some delegates but that he was overwhelmed.
Similarly, Adeniran called for the cancellation of the entire exercise, saying Governors Nyesom Wike foisted the Unity List on delegates.
“We reject the entire electoral process. The election has been grossly compromised to achieve a predetermined end. The illegal Unity List is prepared by Governors Wike and Ayodele Fayose to foist on the entire delegates” Mr. Taiwo Akeju, Director, Media and Publicity of the Adeniran Campaign said last night.
Meanwhile, the assertion by officials of the PDP about restoration of internal democracy ahead of the 2019 round of elections were interpreted to be derailing as the former ruling party lapsed into the old way of forging a consensus in the enthronement of its leadership.
Even before the convention opened yesterday morning, a Unity List of delegates, forged between the party’s 11 governors and power brokers, was circulated with Secondus, a former Acting National Chairman, prevailing as the consensus candidate for National Chairman.
His emergence followed the disunity in the ranks of the South-West Caucus which despite the support and entreaties from northern elders on the party, were unable to produce a consensus candidate from their ranks until the voting commenced.
Before the election, three of the seven South-West candidates, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Senator Rasheed Ladoja and Mr. Jimi Agbaje, announced they were pulling out of the contest. The pulling out of the trio, with the earlier unceremonious exit of Chief Bode George, meant that only Prof. Tunde Adeniran, who had the backing of many northern delegates, could compete. However, by the time the announcements were made, the deals to push Secondus had been sealed and many of the northern delegates supportive of a South-West Chairman had given up on the region.
The only other main challenger to Secondus was Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, from the South-South, like Secondus, who, again, even before the convention started, reiterated that he would take the battle to the convention ground as “it was up to the delegates to decide on who would be the Chairman”.
There was, however, despair among some party chieftains that the decision to push through the Unity List could puncture the boisterousness that was seen among party chieftains hungry to forge unity to prosecute the 2019 presidential election.
The conspicuous absence of some party chieftains raised issues. Among those absent were some of the leading promoters of Adeniran, notably Senator Ibrahim Mantu.
However, expectations of rancour among the Anambra delegations were put aside as PDP chieftains, who allegedly worked at cross purposes, sat comfortably indeed excitedly with the party’s defeated candidate in the Anambra State governorship election, Mr. Oseloka Obaze. Sitting with Obaze were Chief Chris Uba, Chief Olisa Metuh among others.
The convention provided an opportunity for delegates to chide ‘internal enemies’ like Senator Buruji Kashamu who, following his one month suspension by the just dissolved National Working Committee, NWC, was chased away from the Ogun State pavilion. His efforts to find succour at the Osun and Ondo pavilions were of little effort as he was forced to drive out of the convention ground.
Kashamu has, however, declared his suspension illegal and of no effect.
Despite claims that the convention ground would not be turned into a campaign ground for 2019 presidential aspirants, there were events to the contrary as supporters of many of the party’s contenders used the opportunity to market their principals. A big banner proclaiming Governor Ayo Fayose was laid on the floor in front of the Ekiti pavilion, while drummers canvassing the aspiration of contenders, including Alhaji Sule Lamido, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, moved around the convention ground.
Voting was on-going at press time and the results were not expected until early hours of Sunday.