PDP rebrands on shaky note, big chieftains in no show

PDP rebrands on shaky note, big chieftains in no show

Thursday, November 12, 2015 10:16 pm

Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja
Godswill Akpabio and other leaders at the conference

Godswill Akpabio and other leaders at the conference. Photo: Femi Ipaye

Efforts to rebuild Nigeria’s former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party took off on a shaky note on Thursday as key the founding fathers of the party shunned a conference billed for the purpose.

Apart from former military president Ibrahim Babangida who had earlier indicated that he will not be part of the conference tagged “PDP Rebranding Conference” having retired from politics, other founding fathers of the party also kept off the conference without any reason.
Founding fathers of PDP who had earlier been publicized as participants in the conference include Chief Samuel Ogbemudia, former governor of the old Bendel State, former Vice President Alex Ekwueme and a former minister of finance, Malam Adamu Ciroma.
Also absent at the Conference were former President Goodluck Jonathan and his former Vice President, Namadi Sambo and former Senate President David Mark.
It was gathered that the absence of the party founding fathers was a setback for the conference which was championed by some stakeholders in the party including Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, Senator Ibrahim Mantu and Dr. Haliru Bello Mohammed, the chairman of Board of Trustees, BoT of PDP.
Surprisingly, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State who have set himself up as the alternate spokesperson of the party was also absent at the occasion as well as embattled Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
 Other PDP chieftains from the South west like Chief Bode George, former Deputy National Chairman of PDP, former Ministers Musiliu Obanikoro and Adeseye Ogunlewe were also absent from the Conference.
However, the bigwigs of the party present at the Conference include Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, former Governor Godswill Akpabio who is also the Senate minority leader, Olusegun Mimiko, the Governor of Ondo State and the Chairman of PDP Governor’s Forum as well as Governor Emmanuel Udom, Ifeanyi Okowa, Darius Ishiaku and Idris Wada of Akwa Ibom, Delta, Taraba and Kogi states respectively.
Also present at the conference were former Governor Sule Lamido, former Senate President Adolphus Wabara, former Governor Theodore Orji, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, Ibrahim Shekarau, the former Governor of Kano State,  Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State and former Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State and the incumbent governor of Abia State.    Senators and members of the House of Representatives elected on the party’s platform also came.
Haliru Muhammed and Ibrahim Mantu

Haliru Muhammed and Ibrahim Mantu: Photo: Femi Ipaye

PDP slams APC, Buhari 
The occasion was chaired by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu,   used his opening remarks to lampoon the All Progressives Congress and President Muhammadu Buhari.
While welcoming delegates and elected and former elected members of the party to the conference, Uche Secondus, the Chairman of the party recalled the victories of the party in the past elections, arguing that the party can still rise to win future elections. 
He, just like the others who have spoken at the ongoing conference however seemed to be more interested in slamming President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling APC over what they described as growing impunity, tyranny, failure to fulfil campaign promises and unfair judgment against PDP governors at the election petition tribunals.
Uche Secondus, acting chairman and Haliru Mohammed

Uche Secondus, acting chairman and Haliru Mohammed. Photo: Femi Ipaye

Kicking off the slamming of the ruling party, Secondus noted that the country is sliding into a police state under President Buhari while the war against corruption is being fought selectively. He cited the recent investigation of a company involved in the implementation of Treasury Single Account, TSA for corruption as an example of indiscretion of the Buhari administration.
He however said the future of the opposition party is very bright as he urged members to avoid recriminations. The future of our party is very bright. Majority of Nigerians, even in this government today are still members of APC. What we need now is to reposition our party. We need to build concession to implement the report of the Ekweremadu Committee,”, Secondus said.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who spoke after him was also not sparing of the Buhari government. Ekwereadu who said Nigeria is back to the type of tyranny the founding fathers of PDP fought against when they formed the party in 1998 said the opposition party is back in the trenches to fight tyranny, a position which he said was not strange to the party. The Deputy Senate President also said the APC has so far failed to fulfill its campaign promises in terms of making the exchange rate of a dollar equal to the naira, the rescue of Chibok girls, free meals to school children and payment of N5000 to unemployed Nigerians.
“We pray that the promise to end Boko Haram by December will be achieved,” Ekweremadu said cynically. He also accused the APC government of grounding the economy with massive job losses, rising inflation rate which he said in now near two digits, over N400 billion loss in the capital market and inability of manufacturers to import raw materials. He also said the space for political freedom is narrowing under the APC government as there is a clear design by the ruling party to take over states under PDP governor. He said PDP governors, especially those presiding over oil producing states are now endangered species because of the desperation of the ruling party to bring their states under its fold.
The Deputy Senate President also accused the President of nepotism and prosecuting selective anti corruption. While appealing to President Buhari to carry every Nigerians along in his government, Ekweremadu said there is need for PDP to urgently set up a shadow government to benchmark the APC government on its promises. 
Also speaking at the opening ceremony, Olusegun Mimiko, the Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum and the governor of Ondo State said PDP is still as strong as ever and that there is no way the party can be killed as it can still win future elections. While noting that democracy is essential for national development, the Governor said credible elections and adjudication process is also essential for democracy to thrive.
Mimiko however alleged that while PDP has represented this ideal in the past 16 years, the APC government must ensure that elections are credible while the adjudication process must also be responsible. He however said PDP has anxieties about the adjudication process of the tribunals as APC seemed to be putting on the garb of impunity which it used to accuse the PDP of.
Mimiko who said President Buhari must realize that he needed consensus from all political divide to run a successful government, however said the party has hope that the judiciary will do justice to its cases.
The Governor who said all the governors across party lines appealed to the President to give bail out to the states also lamented that the funds due to Kogi State from the package is being held back.
 “We appeal to the President to appeal to little angels around his government to release Kogi bailout fund now,” said Mimiko. He also appealed to the President to ensure that the impending elections in Kogi and Bayelsa State are free and fair.
Godswill Akpabio, the Senate Minority Leader and former governor of Akwa Ibom State also said the PDP remained the biggest party in Nigeria and in the National Assembly. Akpabio who noted that the party was able to produce the Deputy Senate President despite the fact that it is in opposition lamented that PDP members are being arrested and prosecuted on the instigation of those he described as “tin gods”  over false charges as a way of killing the party. But he vowed that the party will not die.
He however condemned the ongoing protests by the Indigenous People of Biafra across the South East and South south states.
Akpabio who described the protesters as misguided youths who were not aware of the bloodshed and pain that attended the civil war said  the protests and the accompanying carnage must stop.
He advised that a small committee should be set up to start talking to the groups involved in the protests in the South east and the South south since PDP is in charge of the states in the two areas.


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