Anatomy of a convention
It is no longer news that Chief Uche Seconndus, former Vice Chairman South South of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is now the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party of Nigeria, PDP.
He defeated former Education Minister, Professor Tunde Adeniran and media mogul, Chief Raymond Dopkesi to clinch the position in a keenly contested elective delegates convention of the party held at the Eagles Square, Abuja at the weekend. While Chief Dopkesi accepted defeat and congratulated the winner, Professor Adeniran stormed out of the venue of the convention and called for a care taker committee to be set up to manage the affairs of the party until another election was conducted. It is a call that the party was to ignore.
Earlier, some candidates from the South West such as Chief Olabode George, former Vice Chairman of the Party for the South West, former Ogun Governor Gbenga Daniel and the two-time governorship aspirant in Lagos State, Mr Jimi Agbaje had withdrawn from the contest leaving Prof Adeniran, Chief Dopkesi and Chief Secondus in the race. Some of those who withdrew complained that there was a grand plan by Governors of the party to hand the chairmanship to a particular individual.
Governor Wike of Rivers State and his Ekiti state Counterpart were fingered as using a so called ‘unity list’ to rig the elections in favour of Chief Secondus. While speaking to AIT from the venue of the convention , Peter Fayose of Ekiti was not apologetic saying that in any political gathering there were bound to be alliances and its usually the alliance that convinces the majority of delegates that wins and suggested that those who lost should go home to plan and wait for another four years when party positions would be available for a fresh contest!
While the All Progressives Congress, APC in its response said that the PDP hadn’t learnt any lessons and conducted a convention where people were rigged in and imposed on the party, the PDP replied rather very quickly suggesting to the APC to work hard to fulfill the several promises made to the people as the party had failed in all ramifications. The newly elected National Publicity of the party Kola Ologbodiyan in a statement that he released after the event, said a failed party like the APC had not business meddling in the internal affairs of the PDP especially given that the party had itself been unable to conduct one convention since coming to power in 2015!
The PDP had been enmeshed in crisis after the loss of the Presidency which the party had held onto for 16 years. There were elements in the party that did not want former President Jonathan to run for another term saying there was a gentleman’s agreement that he would allow the north to present a candidate for the Presidency but Jonathan and his supporters denied any such agreement and argued that the President should be allowed to finish his good work by having another term in office.
Candidates from the north were asked to step down and endorse the President. Just before the Presidential election the coast was cleared for the President to carry the flag of the party into the election. Political watchers said that the PDP went into the election a fractured party to the point that the Chairman of the Party and former Governor Of Bauchi state Alhaji Babangida Muazu traveled out of the country on the eve of the crucial election. Party faithfuls like Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose shouted himself hoarse that the north had betrayed the President. When it was obvious that Jonathan would lose the election, some within the party had wanted him to contest what they termed suspicious results from some states and in fact go on to reject the whole results but the President demurred and went on to do the unthinkable much to the amazement of some members of his inner circle when he called his rival, retd General Muhammad Buhari and congratulated him on his victory. That singular telephone call saved the country from being plunged into a state of anarchy. An elated Buhari was even surprised at the turn of events given that he had himself headed to court to contest the elections in the three times he lost the Presidential elections in the past.
Understandably, the PDP became rudderless after the loss but in an attempt to rebuild the party a convention was held in Port Harcourt in 2016 and former Governor of Kaduna State and Senator Ahmed Markafi was elected Chairman of the party. His tenure was riddled with crisis and in 2017 he was removed paving way for Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff to step in as Chairman of a PDP Caretaker Committee. Certain elements did not want Alhaji Sheriff, a former Governor of the war torn Borno State as caretaker chairman. There were many who believed that he was a mole of the APC and was bent on destroying the party and as would be expected actions to challenge the emergence of Alhaji Sheriff were filled in court. In 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that Alhaji Modu Sheriff was in office illegally and he was removed and the Markafi Executive Committee returned to office but it was obvious that they would not stay for long as he was expected to organize a convention that will elect leaders of the party. And that is what was done last weekend.
In the current disagreement, former Transport Minister Ebenezer Babatope was one of the first persons to raise the alarm that Alhaji Makarfi was working for the emergence of Chief Secondus as Chairman of the PDP and called on Makarfi to resign his position to pave way for a free and fair election of a new Chairman. Chief Babatope a known supporter of Chief Olabode George, former Military Governor of Ondo state was also a great believer that the Chairmanship of the PDP should be zoned to the South West.
Chief Raymond Dokpesi