…says Tinubu stands a chance if…

…informs INEC of its congresses, national convention

…asks ‘usurpers’  to steer clear 

By Levinus Nwabughiogu, Abuja

Acting National Chairman of Social Democratic Party, SDP, Chief Supo Shonibare has disclosed that the political party would provide its platform to some Nigerians eminently qualified to contest 2023 general election but “wrongly treated” in their party for use.

He however said that the individuals must be men and women of proven integrity and track record.

Shonibare fielded questions from journalists after addressing a press conference on the state of the party in Abuja on Thursday.

He said: “We do not want it to be an opportunistic vehicle but definitely, instances where we have seen great injustice to an individual who we feel that the individual is not coming to join us with a baggage, yes, that individual is welcome to our party but we wouldn’t welcome anyone who will feel that has a case pending in court, anyone who we feel that has been convicted even if the person is actually appealing that conviction.

“We will try to ensure that those who we welcome into our party are men and women of integrity.

“Yes, SDP will be succour for those who have been wrongly dealt with in their political party provided those people coming have displayed integrity and honour in the way and manner they have conducted themselves in government because we want SDP to be an exemplary political party or vehicle that when people look at those that are leading and those who are elected, they see those who have displayed integrity, honour, prudent management of our public resources when they were in position of authority to superintendent over our resources. So, yes, we will looking at the individual who fit that bill to come and join us in SDP.

“We want SDP to be something that is completely different from the APC ruling party and the former PDP ruling party. To be worthy to achieve that objective, we cannot now be reinventing those two political parties in SDP.

“Although, there may be and there are several individuals in those two parties who have themselves behaved in a way and many that’s inconsistent with integrity, with having managed resources in a prudent manner whenever they have been asked to manage our resources.

“So, those who meet that bill will be welcome into SDP. We want SDP to be a rainbow coalition of several groups of Nigerians but those Nigerians must be Nigerians that have displayed a great deal of integrity in the way and manner that they have sought to superintendent over the resources of our country.

“That will be our position when see those who may be disappointed or having been cheated in their own political parties but like I said we are not putting SDP to be an opportunistic angle. We set it up as a party that strives to ensure we can evolve an egalitarian society.

“A lot of believe that we should quickly devolve powers, adopt policies that can evolve an egalitarian society where the youths population is facing a time bomb, an emergency situation. And an emergency situation requires us adopting policies that are capable of correcting the past.”

Asked if the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was one of the those to be received by the party especially as speculations had been rife about it, Shonibare said that the former Lagos Governor was not a member of their party as at Thursday morning.

He whoever said that party will do some evaluation to know if he met their standards in the event he chose to use SDP platform for the presidential contest.

“The issue of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the last time I checked, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is not a member of Social Democratic Party.

“I checked on the list because the membership list of our party as INEC has required, has already been submitted by our State Chapters to us in Abuja. And his name is not on the membership list of those who are members of our party in Lagos State. That’s all I can say on the leadership of SDP he’s not a member of SDP.

“If he were to join, then the party has to make a determination whether the way and manner he’s actually managed the resources of state from where he stated is consistent with the profile of the integrity that we said that needs to displayed by anyone that is coming to us. Remember, I said that yes, we will welcome anyone who is not with us now, who feels they have been cheated in their political party. But then, in that process, we will look at that particular individual at that time. Then, you score”, he said.

On the cost of the nomination forms, Shonibare said that they were minimal so as to encourage the youthful population of Nigerians to contest.

According to him, th the nomination form for the presidential election sold at N18 million with the expression of interest form selling at N2 million.

“What we had in mind in fixing what we are fixing for aspirants is the fact that we as political party is private donations, we are not run by public funds like several of those parties. We’ve looked at the cost of having agents in all the polling units of the federation and that has partly determined the cost of funds in our own party.

“I think on average is about a-third, it’s about 30% of all the other parties. The exact amount is on our website. For presidential candidates, it’s N18 million and N2 million for expression of interest form. It is free for women, women don’t pay for nomination forms and men who are under 30 don’t pay for nomination forms in SDP, because we are trying to encourage younger people who have excel in their own private enterprises, hence we want to encourage younger people to participate in politics,” he said.

Speaking on the internal squabbles in the party, the national chairman warned usurpers to steer clear of their party, vowing to resist every attempt to make SDP ineffective.

He said: “We have every reason to fear the conspiracy by those who were never elected and came to join us in 2018, the purpose of which is to forcibly hijack our party. The ultimate goal of this conspiracy is to make the SDP ineffective or ineffectual in the contest for power and render it an ally of the lackluster ruling regime. We shall resist the machinations of those burgeoning usurpers. We enjoin all Nigerians to join the SDP.

He maintained  that INEC lacked the powers to determine who is the authentic leadership of SDP, noting that the electoral umpire was not a court of law.

Shonibare however said that the party had informed INEC of its ward, local government, state congresses and the national convention slated from May 19 to 30, 2022.

“INEC is not the court of law so INEC cannot determine at the end of the day, which is the rightful leadership of the party. It is the constitution of the party, and the rules of the party and the determination of the court that will determine who is the legitimate leadership of the party.

“In inviting INEC to event, that is an obligation under the Electoral Act; that is all that the political party needs to do. It is incumbent on INEC to either carry out its own responsibility under the law or not to do on the orders as been on the party itself to put INEC on notice on what they are doing, which I said we have done. So once you’ve done that, we have discharged our own responsibility in putting them on notice”, Shonibare said.

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