Saturday, May 21, 2016 6:00 pm
In spite of non-recognition by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a “national convention’’ of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was held in Abuja on Saturday, as the Port Harcourt convention was abandoned, in deference to a court order.
The Abuja event was parallel to the highly publicised National Convention organised by the national leadership of the party and attended by 12 PDP governors in Port Harcourt, Rivers, also on Saturday.
INEC had on Thursday said that it was aware of only one national convention of the party and that it was the one planned for Port Harcourt.
Director of Voter Education and Publicity, INEC, Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, had said that the commission would be at the convention in Port Harcourt to play its statutory role of supervising the exercise. But the convention was eventually suspended.
In Abuja, however, the old guards of the party gathered.
Chairman of the convention, Sen. Ibrahim Mantu, said that the major stakeholders of the party were united to reposition the party and that no officer would be elected at the exercise.
Mantu said that stockholders in PDP were all united in affirming the vision and ideals of the party’s founding fathers.
“We are united in reaffirming the ideals that made Nigerians in 1999 to break the yoke of ethnicity and divisive politics to unite under the PDP umbrella to elect the first Pan Nigerian President.
“Our teeming supporters are looking toward the party of inclusion, the party of economic opportunities, the party of freedom and the party of national unity to rise from the ashes of defeat to the mountain of hope.
“Our people are looking with nostalgia to the freedom of speech, the respect for our courts and the sense of belonging that pervaded our country under the PDP.
“We the stakeholders of the PDP are resolved to rebuild, renew and rebrand our great party to anchor the dreams of our founding fathers and give wings to the hopes of our citizens who live in uncertainty,’’ he said.
Mantu said that the gathering of PDP members in Abuja for a national convention was to chart a new course and restore the moral values of the party.
“Our concerted efforts will lead to a new party with responding ideals,’’ he said, adding that the decision to go ahead with the Port Harcourt convention was illegal and a total disregard to a court order.
“The decision to go ahead with the illegal convention in Port Harcourt is a disobedience of a valid court judgment stopping the convention.
“The disobedience signals a worrisome trend that would further weaken the party to the delight of the fifth columnists working hard to truncate the historic role of the PDP to provide viable and constructive opposition to the ruling government,’’ he said.
He added that the action of the National Executive Committee of the party in selecting Sen. Ali Modu Sherriff as national chairman was in gross violation of established procedure for the selection.
“The selection of the chairman for the unexpired term of the North-East zone started with nominations from states in the zone; Sen. Sheriff was not nominated by any state caucus and hence not qualified to be selected,’’ he said.
In his remark, a former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, said that the Abuja group’s effort would lead to a new beginning for the PDP.
“Our founding fathers are very resolute in the kind of party that we are building; PDP that wants to ensure that everybody is cared for and carried along.
“PDP will not tolerate anything that will take away human rights from the people. PDP stands for human rights, human dignity and human values,’’ Gana said.
He expressed optimism that the party would regain power in 2019.
Some members of the party at the Abuja convention were former chairman of the party, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo; former Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo; former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed and Dr Doyin Okupe, a former aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan.