The National Working Committee (NWC) and the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have disagreed on the venue for the party’s convention slated for October 6.
The convention is where delegates would elect the party’s presidential candidate for the 2019 general elections.
Speaking at the inauguration of the party’s National Convention Planning Committee yesterday in Abuja, the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus said the party had fixed Port Harcourt, Rivers State as venue for the convention.
Secondus, who was represented by the Deputy National Chairman (South) of the party, Elder Yemi Akinwomi, said, “The party set up a committee headed by Ambassador Ibrahim Kazaure, and they went round the South-South and South-East zones before coming out with the choice of Port Harcourt for us.
“In acceptance, the NWC has consulted widely with the PDP Governors Forum, we have consulted widely with the BoT. We have consulted widely with the National Caucus of the party and today it has been jointly accepted that we will converge in Port Harcourt, in no distant time for the national convention.
“The international community has told us that they want to watch keenly the Port Harcourt Convention. Particularly, they said they want to come and watch the process that will lead to the emergence of our flag bearer, because by the grace of God, our flag bearer will be the next President of Nigeria.”
But just before he could end his address, Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin stood up and countered him, arguing that Port-Harcourt had not been agreed upon by all organs of the party.
“The issue of venue is still on and is not concluded because there are many suggestions. We will look at all the suggestions and I want to assure you that the issue of venue will be resolved.
“But for now, we are working round the clock to ensure that we have a very suitable venue accepted by everybody. I want to say that every one of us should come together and ensure that we have a venue suitable to all of us,” he said.
Ebonyi State Governor and Secretary of the Convention Planning Committee, Dave Umahi, however, waded in by pleading with the two leaders to come together in the interest of the party.
Chairman of the Committee and Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa also promised to work tirelessly to deliver a credible convention for the party.
“We are very much aware that if we get this convention right and when the processes are such that are credible, free and fair, we will definitely have the buy in of all our presidential aspirants. And we will now have a united family.
“I also want to believe that if there are any internal issues, they will be resolved within us today. I am very confident of that. Because all of us believe that the only way forward is for the entirety of the party to stay united and focused.
“As members of the PDP, we cannot afford to disagree on any issue. The thing that is needed is for a free and fair primary to be conducted for all our aspirants.
“And we are very definite that we will get it right. No matter where we take it (convention) to, we will do what is right. And I believe that at the end of the day, nobody will have any cause to complain,” Okowa said.
Why we’re against P/Harcourt
A founding member of the party from the North, Alhaji Aminu Yakudima told our correspondent in a telephone interview last night that stakeholders were against Port Harcourt because they claimed there was a grand plan by some governors to impose a particular presidential aspirant from the North West.
He said the majority of party leaders and members want the convention held in Abuja, stressing if the party did not get it right at the convention, it would spell doom for it in 2019.
“Stakeholders are not comfortable with Port Harcourt because there are insinuations that the process would be manipulated. People have the feeling that the convention should take place in Abuja.
“Some stakeholders are specifically saying that some governors are trying to impose a particular aspirant in Port Harcourt. So the venue should be Abuja. If it is Abuja, everybody will be comfortable.
“Now, the party is not in power at the centre, and you know the governors have a lot of influence in whatever the party is doing,” he said.
He, however, declined to mention the name of the aspirant that is being anointed.
However, another source who craved anonymity, said “Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is the anointed candidate.”
According to him, only three out of the 12 aspirants would be in tight race at the primaries.
“Apart from Tambuwal, Saraki and Atiku would be the actors to watch closely at the convention,” he said.
However, a chieftain of the PDP and former member of the APC Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Sam Nkire said the National Working Committee (NWC) should be allowed to decide the venue.
He said if the decision of the NWC is to hold the convention in Port Harcourt, it should provide a mechanism to help party members understand why Port Harcourt is necessary.
He, however, said Abuja would be a better option.