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9TH NASS leadership: PDP to probe members’ voting pattern

…Raises nomination fee for Kogi, Bayelsa Guber to N20m

By Dirisu Yakubu

THE leadership of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, said the failure of its lawmakers in the National Assembly to vote according to party directive during the 9th Assembly elections was shameful and embarrassing.

PDP and its colour flags

The party, therefore, has resolved to investigate this in a bid to forestall a future occurrence. This was part of the resolutions of PDP at its 86th National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting in Abuja, yesterday.

Recall that the party had directed its members to vote for Senator Ali Ndume and Umar Bago as against the candidates of All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila for Senate presidency and Speaker of House of Representatives, respectively.

But Ndume and Bago got a lower number of votes compared to the strength of the party’s lawmakers as Lawan and Gbajabiamila won, an indication that PDP lawmakers voted against their party’s directive.

Speaking at the meeting, National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said: “Permit me at this juncture dear leaders to express the disappointment of our party on the embarrassing roles of some of our party members at the National Assembly during the election of their leaders.

“Party loyalty demands that you stick to your party at any given situation. When personal interest clash with party interest, personal should drown into that of the party, that’s what real Democrats are expected to do.”

Also read: Breaking: PDP raises cost of governorship forms to N20 million

He also decried what he called vote-buying, saying the “ruling APC came up with their ‘green card’ ‘vote and snap’ fraud that introduced an unprecedented dimension to the growing corruption index of this administration. My worry is the consequences this brazen corruption would have in the legislative activities of the Ninth Assembly.”

Speaking with newsmen after the NEC meeting, the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodinya, said the party will set up a committee to investigate the role played by PDP lawmakers during the voting.

He, however, declined to mention the members and timeline for the committee, noting “We cannot pre-empt the job of the committee.”

Meanwhile, Ologbondiyan disclosed that the party has fixed the governorship nomination fee for the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections at N20 million as against the N5 million it charged during the 2019 general election.

“The cost of production of forms, organising free and fair elections have also increased,” in an apparent justification of the new hike.

According to the party timetable, primaries for both elections will hold on Tuesday, September 3, 2019. While the sale of forms is to begin on Monday, June 24, the screening will begin on August 19. The governorship election is scheduled to hold on November 16, 2019.

There was a mild drama at the first post-election NEC of the party as a former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu decried the penchant of the party leadership to always fix party meetings on National Economic Council meeting day.

This comes as the meeting, though an emergency one recorded a poor attendance. Besides the absence of the governors, who were at the National Economic Council meeting, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, former Deputy Senate President, Sen Ike Ekweremadu, were also absent.

Although governors were at the NEC meeting presided by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo at the Villa, absence of the other party leaders could not be explained as of press time.

The drama started when Aliyu was called to give the opening prayer for the meeting. Obviously not happy at the delay, the former governor, in his prayer, asked God to help the party leadership “not to always fix meetings only during national economic council meeting days.”

While the prayer caused mild laughter, Secondus in his response apologised for the delay, noting that the governors had agreed to be at the meeting by 2 pm, believing that the economic meeting at the Villa would have ended.

He said: “I believe that God has answered the prayers of the Chief Servant of Niger. It is not in our character to keep leaders of our party waiting.”

However speaking at the meeting former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, said despite the way PDP lawmakers voted, there were those who still stood with the party.

He said the summary of the EU report shows that they didn’t lose the election but that it was stolen from them. He urged party members to remain united.

On his part, the Senate Minority Leader, Sen Enyinnaya Abaribe, assured the party leadership that they will be up to the challenge in keeping APC on its toes.

Speaking also, the chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Sen Walid Jibrin said they are optimistic that the PDP will return to rule Nigeria again, stressing that they still have confidence in the judiciary ahead of the final judgement on the party’s petition at the election tribunal.

He assured the PDP NEC that the BoT will work with all organs of the party to make it loved by all members. He challenged PDP members to be loyal to the party, stressing, “we shall ensure that disciple play an important role in the party.”

He also disclosed that the party is not pleased with how its members in the National Assembly voted during the last NASS leadership election.

Walid said the BoT has written to the party chairman over the issue noting that he hopes they will look at the matter and ensure they do the right thing.

Some party chieftains at the meeting included former Jigawa state governor, Sule Lamido, Sen. Adolphus Nwabara, Sen. Ibrahim Mantu, Sen. Jeremiah Useni, and Sen. Dino Melaye among others.

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