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•Ex-Osun governor banks on non-PDP states’ delegates for victory

•Nineteen contestants elected unopposed in Abuja

•It’s not easy keeping party together, says Tambuwal

A former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, on Saturday, expressed his interest to contest the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party ahead of the 2023 election.

He said he would go ahead with his plan whether the PDP zoned the position to the South-East or not.

Anyim made the declaration on Saturday in an interview with journalists in Abuja.

The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who noted that the party’s national convention, which started on Saturday and would continue on Sunday, would signal the commencement of political activities in the party, and that it was a good time to indicate interest.

He said, “Posters of my presidential bid and agitations by groups for me to contest flooded the social media in 2020 and I disassociated myself from such calls. I felt that it was too early for such a declaration to enable the present administration to concentrate on governance.

“Such calls resurfaced in the early part of 2021 and I choose to be quiet over the issue. But we have less than 18 months to the next general elections and I feel the time is ripe to indicate my interest.”

He stated that the party’s zoning committee was only saddled with zoning party positions and not elective positions ahead of 2023.

He added, “Zoning of such elective positions was deferred but nothing stops anyone from the south-East zone from contesting the presidency even if it was not zoned to it.”

He noted that the convention would mark the rebirth of the party.

Meanwhile, governors of the Peoples Democratic Party on Saturday refused to back a former Governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, for the position of the party’s Deputy National Chairman (South).

Rather, the governors queued behind a former deputy governor of Oyo State, Ambassador Taofek Arapaja, for the position.

At the National Convention of the party which started in Abuja on Saturday evening and would continue till Sunday, the governors after being unable to make Arapaja the sole candidate for the office decided to leave both men to slug it out.

The position of the Deputy National Chairman (South) was zoned to the South-West and was initially micro-zoned to Osun State.

This decision was reached since Arapaja from Oyo State was already elected as the party’s vice chairman (south).

The micro-zoning of the office was said to have been responsible for the emergence of only Oyinlola and Prof Wale Oladipo, both from Osun state, for the position.

The Governor of Oyo State, Mr Seyi Makinde, was the first to endorse Oyinlola for the office before he changed his mind and started to support Arapaja.

Makinde’s decision was said to have been fuelled by the decision of his colleagues who allegedly rejected the choice of Oyinlola for the job.

The governors, it was gathered, were of the opinion that the former military administrator of Lagos State could be too independently-minded to be controlled by them.

Sources said Makinde’s sudden change of mind was already creating ripples among members of the party in the South-West, especially between both Oyo and Osun states.

At the Eagles Square, Abuja, venue of the eighth elective national convention, drama however played out from when delegates from Oyo and Osun states traded words.

Loyalists of Oyinlola and Arapaja, who were seated next to each other, sang solidarity and abusive songs that reflected the tension in the South-West caucus of the party.

Oyinlola sat in company with a former governorship candidate of the PDP in Osun State, Senator Nurudeen Adeleke; and a former Deputy Governor in the state and ex-Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada.

A former presidential aide, Dr Doyin Okupe, among other party leaders, watched as the drama unfolded.

The songs were led by talking drummers, while the loyalists sang and danced along. At some point, the party faithful rose to point at one another.

Though some stakeholders, especially governors, adopted Arapaja as a consensus candidate for the position, Oyinlola vowed to resist the decision.

A source close to Oyinlola said, “The governors are backing Arapaja. They have abandoned Oyinlola who Makinde encouraged to run for the office.

“They failed to intimidate Oyinlola. They forgot to realise that he was a Brigadier-General in the army and that they could not force him out of a race he had made up his mind to contest.

“Oyinlola was going to run for the office of the National Chairman of the party before the governors forced the party’s National Executive Committee to zone it to the north.

“The idea was meant to make sure he did not run for the office. Don’t be deceived with the false narration that the next presidential candidate of our party would come from the south. It is a lie and they all know.

“That notwithstanding, Oyinlola and his supporters are relying on states without PDP governors for votes. If he gets it, good and if he doesn’t win, it is not the end of life.”

It was also gathered that the elders of the party insisted that Oyinlola must contest the election.

“If he steps down, the governors would turn back to say they would have supported him. That was why he was encouraged to go into the race and see the outcome,” another source added.

The source said at the end of the convention, leaders and supporters of Oyinlola would determine the next line of action.

Govs may cause crisis in South-West – Lawmaker

A member of the House of Representatives from Osun State, who watched as the scenario played out inside the Eagles Square, blamed PDP governors for what he termed as the brewing crisis in the South-West caucus of the party.

The lawmaker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, alleged that part of the plans by the governors was to seize the control of the party through the emerging National Working Committee members.

He said, “You can see what they (the governors) have caused. They just want to have their way, damning the consequence.

“A northerner may emerge as the candidate of the party for the presidency, which means that the chairman would come from the South. It is part of their calculation that should Iyorchia Ayu have to step down, Arapaja, their candidate, would become the National Chairman of the party.”

Sources in the PDP alleged that Makinde, who is Secretary of the Convention Planning Committee, enjoys the backing of other governors in the party to sponsor Arapaja’s emergence as the Deputy National Chairman.

At Eagles Square, two versions of a consensus list otherwise known as Unity List were circulated. While the first one that had Arapaja as the candidate was allegedly from the PDP governors, another list later emerged which contained the name of Oyinlola for the same position.

All the other 20 positions however had the same set of names on the two lists.

Delegates from Abia State were the first to cast their ballots as the states voted in alphabetical order.

As of 11 pm on Saturday night, delegates from Ondo State were still casting their votes.

PDP govs in full control of convention – Rep

Another member of the House from Kogi State, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the event was largely sponsored by the governors.

“The governors are fully in charge of this convention, from the planning to the sponsorship. No doubt, they will be calling the shots in our party going forward,” the lawmaker said.

A delegate from Osun State, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said, “Both the Soji Adagunodo and Sunday Bisi factions of the party buried their differences to support Oyinlola. Osun State delegates didn’t come with a divided house as many thought. This should work in his favour.

“PDP as a party is not a one-man affair. What should determine the outcome of the election is who can rally support for the party in the region. Oyinlola would still command a huge following in the South-West. Oyinlola, being a former governor, has the support of some former governors and leaders from the region.”

Like Oyinlola, Mrs Inna Ciroma, who is contesting the position of the Deputy National Chairman (North), has also resisted pressure to step down for her male contender, Umar Damagum.

Ciroma and Damagum are from Yobe State, where the position was micro-zoned to.

However, two of the three candidates for the position of the National Auditor, Samben Nwosu and Mrs Chibuogwu Benson-Oraelosi, have withdrawn from the contest.

Nwosu’s letter of withdrawal was read at the convention by the Adamawa State Governor and Chairman of the PDP Convention Committee, Ahmadu Fintiri.

Oraelosi, on the other hand, announced her withdrawal on the podium while voting was in progress.

Read Also
  • Voting APC, PDP in 2023 like choosing between devil and deep blue sea –Bishop Awe
  • It’s not easy keeping PDP united – Tambuwal
  • 2023: North’ll reject weak, aged candidate, says CNG
  • Their withdrawal left Chief Okechukwu Obiechina Daniel as the consensus candidate for the position.

    It’s not easy keeping PDP united – Tambuwal

    Speaking at the venue, the Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Aminu Tambuwal, said it was not easy keeping the party united.

    Tambuwal, who is the Governor of Sokoto State, said it was tough to keep PDP together as a big party, with members from across the country and with various interests and desires.

    He said, “Diverse as we are, it is however clear to me that we are at our best when we remember that we must remain focused and disciplined for the sake of our country and for the benefit of fellow Nigerians.

    “In Nigeria, it is tough to remain an item, focused and disciplined as an opposition party. The temptation and allure of power can be overwhelming. Some have fallen along the way.”

    Tambuwal however commended all those who remain focused and disciplined to do the hard work that opposition requires.

    “I am happy to report to the naysayers that PDP today is the strongest and formidable party in Nigeria. I am happy to report to those who want to divide and weaken us that we are winning by the grace of God.”

    He welcomed the new members to the party, saying other concerned Nigerians were also welcomed to join.

    Tambuwal, who noted that the country is going through tough times, added that Nigeria needed strong and smart citizens who could provide the leadership that would help sustain institutions capable of promoting collaboration in the areas of security, innovation, trade, investment and defence of the democracy.

    “Our young people need a secured, safe and enabling country that will allow them to realise their desires to be educated, employed and deploy their entrepreneurship skills,” he added.

    Return to PDP, Adamawa gov begs founding fathers, ex-leaders

    Meanwhile, Fintiri in his welcome speech urged the party’s founding fathers to return. He specifically recognised the “stabilising” role played by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

    Fintiri recalled that in the effort to save Nigeria from the quagmire caused by successive military regimes, a group of political leaders, who were 18 and later increased to 34, took the courage to challenge the junta so that the country could be freed and restored onto the path of democracy.

    He said the group, known as the G-34, later formed the nucleus and rallying point of the associations that formed the PDP.

    The governor said, “I must acknowledge the role of these founding fathers, especially the original members of the G-34 – some dead and others still alive – and all other party men and women who contributed in building the party that has given Nigeria and Nigerians freedom and a hope for survival.

    “Chief Alex Ekwueme, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Chief Sunday Awoniyi, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, Alhaji Lawal Kaita, Alhaji Sule Lamido, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Chief Solomon Lar, Alhaji lro Danmusa, Prof Ango Abdullahi, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai and Amb Aminu Wali.

    “Others are Amb Yahaya Kwande, Prof Jibril Aminu, Prof lya Abubakar, Alhaji Bello Kirfi, Chief Audu Ogbe, Chief Barnabas Gemade, Prof Daniel Saror, Sulaiman Kumo, lyochia Ayu, Chief Tom Ikimi, Alhaji Isiyaku Ibrahim, Senator Walid Jibril, Dr Garba Nadama, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Chief Olusola Saraki, Alhaji Sani Zangon Daura, Chief Anthony Anenih, Alhaji Musa Musawa, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Jim Nwobodo, Prof Jerry Gana and Colonel Ahmadu Ali.

    “More profound, for acknowledgement, was the stabilising role played by our post-military victory under the leadership of (former) President Olusegun Obasanjo which was further consolidated under (late) President Umaru Yar’Adua and President Goodluck Jonathan.

    “The political mutation of the party over the years has seen a few of these foundational members veering off at some point. The confessions of most of those who sojourned to any other party in the country are loaded with regrets. Most of them are lucky to stage a comeback and as a magnanimous family, we are always glad to receive them with all privileges back into our fold.

    “For those, who are still contemplating a return, but are held back by any other force less than Nigeria, I call on you to break the force and return to where you rightly belong. It is time to rescue Nigeria.”

    Fintiri also took a swipe at the ruling All Progressives Congress and condemned the regime led by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

    He said, “For Nigeria, the present APC-led government is hell-bent on railroading the country into multifaceted recession; from the economy to governance, national security, diplomacy, poverty, unemployment, anti-corruption, observance of the rule of law, citizenship and national cohesion, etc.”

    He said the country had never had it this bad, noting that there was no doubt that Nigeria was better by far with the PDP in power.

    “That citizens are yearning for the return of PDP at the centre as the 2023 elections draw nearer is equally not in doubt,” he added.

    He begged the members of the party not to disappoint their supporters.

    He stated, “We have to take back our country as we have always done. We have to save Nigeria. If we could force the country out of the clutches of the military, we can do this one huge task – push the people who don’t know the true definition of good governance and national coexistence out of power. This is a rescue mission for Nigeria. This is the role PDP was invented to play.”

    Fintiri reiterated the clarification he made on Friday that the incumbent members of the NWC would remain in office till December 9, 2021, adding that the inauguration of the new committee would wait till then.

    The outgoing members of the NWC were elected on December 9, 2017.

    We must save Nigeria from APC, says Atiku

    Also, a former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, in his goodwill message, condemned the APC, insisting that the ruling party was a bad omen for the country.

    Atiku said, “Nigeria is in its most trying period. I am 70 years old and I can tell you that I have never seen this country so disintegrated, disunited, with the number of unemployment so much; security challenges in all corners along with lingering tensions surrounding the very nature of our existence. Nigeria is at the edge of the precipice because of the lacklustre performance of the APC.

    “We have a chance now to set the ship on the right course; a chance to atone for the mistakes of the past leadership; a chance to make the country achieve the dreams of our founding fathers who fought for independence many years ago.”

    He said the party was not perfect but that there is strength in unity.

    He added, “The APC has proven to be ill-equipped to lead the nation. They have shown themselves to be corrupt, and a divisive party that was never prepared and never had an idea of what it takes to lead a diverse nation like ours.

    “The responsibility lies with us to save the country from the downward spiral that the Nigerian nation is heading and save it from even the greater calamities. This is our collective responsibility.

    “We must set aside our political differences and political machinations to drive away the APC. The party that has comprehensively failed Nigerians in the last six years.”

    He called on the party to gather technocrats and the greatest minds from across the globe to join the party in charting the way forward for the country. He added that the party must develop a system that would reduce the focus on religious and tribal affiliations and focus on ability and competence.

    Bury your differences, reconcile for PDP, Nigeria – Akinwonmi

    While declaring the convention open, the acting National Chairman of the party, Yemi Akinwonmi, called for reconciliation of aggrieved and warring members of the party.

    “I call on all members of this party to come together, bury our individual and collective differences and put the PDP and the interest of Nigeria above any consideration,” he added.

    Akinwonmi also attacked the APC-led government, saying, “We all know the disturbing and uncomfortable condition and situation Nigerians are in today due to our loss of power. The APC-led government is so clueless that Nigerians need a better hand to get them out of this mess. I believe we can do it as we did before.”

    Earlier, the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, noted that Nigeria was going through difficult moments. He also decried the insecurity, socioeconomic difficulties and separatist agitations in the country.

    He said Nigerians were tired and were following proceedings at the convention and anxiously waiting for its outcome.

    Abaribe urged delegates and party officials not to disappoint Nigerians.

    He pledged the commitment of all PDP lawmakers in the National Assembly to ensuring that the party enthroned a better leadership in 2023.

    Speaking on behalf of the PDP caucus in the National Assembly, Abaribe said, “Today, millions are following the proceedings of the convention because they are anxiously waiting for the outcome.

    “They want to go away from the cold-blooded and arrogant looting of the treasury by the APC. Today, we have seen in the last six years the suppression of our citizens, extra-judicial killings and injustice by the ruling party. This clueless government is doing nothing as bandits take over our highways.”

    On the economy, Mr Abaribe, who represents Abia South, said, “They have pillaged our economy. They have utterly destroyed the economy. Millions are denied the opportunity of fruitful ventures, when they speak up, they are brutalised.”

    As of Friday morning, it was unclear if the convention would hold until the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, dismissed the appeal filed by the suspended National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus.

    The court dismissed the appeal filed by Secondus, in which he sought an interim injunction to restrain the PDP from conducting the convention.

    The three-man appeal panel ruled that Secondus lacked the power to stop the party’s scheduled convention, pointing out that the national leadership of the party was not an exclusive preserve of the appellant (Secondus).

    Secondus filed the case to challenge the judgment of a Port Harcourt High court that affirmed his suspension from office.  ,,

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