By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA — With barely two weeks to the national convention of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, there is a dilemma over the choice of venue, as leaders and stakeholders are yet to agree on a particular location.
Controversy over venue started on Monday when two organs of the party, National Working Committee, NWC, and Board of Trustees, BoT, disagreed on the choice of Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
While the NWC sees the Garden City as the most appropriate venue for the big event, the BoT believes enough consultation was not made and has thus called for consideration of alternative venues.
The open disagreement forced the convention planning committee chairman and Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, to call a meeting of both organs with some presidential aspirants in attendance.
However, the meetings, which took place in Abuja over the course of two days, ended in a stalemate as none of the parties yielded ground.
A highly-placed party source, who attended the meetings, told Vanguard, yesterday, that following comments by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, that those opposed to Port-Harcourt as venue of the convention were enemies of the South-South, some leaders of the party and delegates suggested to the party leadership to settle for any of the other states in the South-South.
According to him, the move is to discredit the accusation of perceived hatred for the South-South insinuated by Governor Wike.
Party leader tasks Wike on fairness
Meanwhile, a leader of the party, who does not want his name in print, has called on Governor Wike to put the party first and allow democracy to prevail in the processes leading to the party’s convention.
He noted that prior to the elective convention in 2017, Wike’s preferred candidate emerged chairman of the party, wondering why he was bent on producing a presidential candidate for the party as well.
According to the source, “he supported a candidate during the last convention who became chairman due to the cooperation of all. It is an open secret that he is rooting for one of the aspirants to emerge as our candidate. Why the insistence on having his pick become the presidential candidate?
‘’This is the time for him to play the party man because if we get it wrong, it will be over for us and the party.”
…defends choice of P-Harcourt
He, however, absolved the governor of blame in the controversy surrounding Port-Harcourt as a possible venue for the convention.
In his words, “the Rivers State capital is conducive largely because of accommodation, capacity to house 5,000 delegates and the need for clearance in the event that the exercise was moved to a state not in the control of the PDP.
“I don’t think the governor is insisting on Port-Harcourt. Apart from Rivers, I don’t know of any other PDP state in the South that can provide accommodation for about 5,000 delegates and also provide the space needed for the convention.”
“If we have to move to a state like Lagos as some have suggested, we will need clearance and with the way politics is played in this country, that is not an option.
“Now, in the whole of the North-East, we are only in charge of two states. I don’t think I need to explain why we can’t take the convention to those states.”
The national convention is slated for October 5th and 6th, 2018, at a venue yet to be agreed upon.