•Intrigues, expectations as 3,600 delegates elect new NWC
•As screening appeal panel upholds Muo-Aroh, Olafeso’s disqualification
By Dirisu Yakubu
The much-awaited national elective convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, begins today as 3,600 delegates from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, converge at the Eagles Square, Abuja, for the exercise.
The ruling by the Court of Appeal, sitting in Port Harcourt ordering the convention to go on has thrown the party into a convivial mood as aspirants into the various positions yesterday thronged the party national secretariat alongside their teeming supporters.
The past few weeks have been characterized by interplay of intrigues, scheming and sheer plottings particularly by governors elected on the platform of the party. Having positioned themselves as the sole determinants of who becomes what, when and how, it is not surprising therefore that the governors have succeeded in reducing the convention to a political spectacle.
The only PDP governor in the entire North-Central zone, Samuel Ortom succeeded in convincing his colleagues and party stakeholders to settle for Iyorchia Ayu as the consensus national chairmanship candidate.
Like Ayu, Senator Samuel Anyanwu is heading to Eagles Square as the consensus national secretary candidate as the two governors of the South-East states of Abia and Enugu, Okezie Ikpeazu and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi pushed his aspiration over that of Okey Muo-Aroh.
As a testament to the growing powers and influence of the governors, all positions being contested, safe for the offices of national auditor, national youth leader, deputy national chairman (South) would not be contested owing to a consensus arrangement brokered by the governors.
Meanwhile, chairman, national convention organizing committee and governor of Adamawa state, has said that more than 3,000 delegates would vote to elect the members of the next National Working Committee, NWC.
Addressing newsmen at the party’s headquarters yesterday, Fintiri said: “We will be expecting 3, 600 delegates tomorrow (today). We’re still compiling the list of delegates. You know PDP has produced a lot of officials for this country and our constitution has also allowed for some former this and former that and we have people that have crossed over to the other side. So,we have to be careful so that we don’t include them. But at the moment, I think we are satisfied that we have brought the list to where we feel we are okay.
“All the positions being contested for are fully occupied. The result of the screening committee was submitted to me yesterday and all the positions and individuals that were disqualified, were further upheld by the Appeal Committee.
“At the moment, we are making efforts to reconcile most of our contestants so that we can streamline them to have a better convention, which will be hitch-free and deepen our chances for 2023. Most of the positions as at today, except for three, will not be contested.
“What we will be doing tomorrow along with you, has reduced significantly and we will keep posting as the events unfold. At the moment, we are talking to those that are contesting for the office of the deputy national chairman (south), national auditor and national youth leader.”
Responding to claims by Muo-Aroh that he never took the PDP to court at any point in time, he said, “I believe the gentleman that bought form for the Office of the National Secretary, clearly we have a section that defines zoning in our constitution.
“That position was micro zoned to South-East and in the South-East, the caucus met and zoned it to Abia and Imo while the Office of the auditor was zoned to Enugu and Anambra. The gentleman in question is from Anambra and we expected him as a party man to respect the zoning and the arrangements of the caucus in the zone.
“Instead of him to contest the office of the auditor which was zoned to his state, he bought form to contest for an office zoned to Imo and Abia states. I think every institution and organization must have a way of disciplining its members,” he added.
He came short of saying that the aspiration of former Minister of Women Affairs, Maryam Ina Ciroma to lead the PDP as deputy national leader (North) is dead on arrival.
He continued: “The 35 per cent affirmation for women is not properly defined in the constitution as to which positions should go for women or which position should go for men just as it is in section 42 of,the Nigerian constitution 1999 (as amended)
“So, we are talking and I think we will have definite positions for women in our next constitutional amendment that we are going to have probably next year to look at it so that we can give women their position properly. He further noted that the duo of Umar Damagum Ina Ciroma would continue to dialogue in a bid to having a common ground at the convention.
The biggest contest is for the position of deputy national chairman (South) which has in contest former Osun state governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, ex-Oyo state governor, Taofeek Arapaja and former PDP national secretary, Wale Oladipo.
Three contestants all from Anambra state are vying for the office of the national auditor. They are Okechukwu Daniel, Samben Nwosu and Chibuogwu Benson-Oraelosi.
Similarly, the duo of Mohammed Suleiman and Usman El-Kudan, both from Kaduna state are contesting the position of national youth leader of the party.
Fintiri also clarified the position of the tenure of outgoing NWC, saying regardless of the outcome of the convention, it would remain in office till December this year.
“There will be no vacuum because we are not truncating anybody’s tenure. We only call for an early convention. It does not mean that because we are having early convention, we are terminating the tenure of the present NWC. They will still be asked to serve their time on until December 9,” he added.
Vanguard News Nigeria