• No going back on convention –Ugochukwu
By Doris Obinna
Baring any change of plan, former People Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, may coast to victory in the chairmanship election of the party scheduled to hold at the Port Harcourt convention on August 17.
This is coming at a time when the PDP has said there is no going back on the convention schedule to hold this weekend.
Sources revealed that Agbaje is enjoying the support of the majority of PDP governors, who want a fresh face in the leadership of the party.
The former governorship candidate is in the race for the PDP chair along with former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Bode George, Prof Tunde Aderiran, former minister of education and Chief Raymond Dokpesi, chairman of DAAR Communications Ltd. The PDP chair has been zoned to the South West.
Sources close to governors revealed that some of the PDP state chief executives are rooting for Agbaje owing to the fact that he not only made impact in the last 2015 governorship election in Lagos but also nearly defeated the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Also the governors are supporting Agbaje because, being a fresh blood in the party’s leadership, he is expected to bring drive, innovation and unity in the party.
According to competent source close to the arrowhead of the governors, who wouldn’t want his name in print, “the governors have decided that the PDP needs a fresh hand, someone who has not been involved before. Agbaje foots the bill at present.”
He dismissed the candidacy of Bode George, saying: “At this time, PDP does not need people who have been part of the system. With all due respect, the governors believe that Chief Bode George has been involved. He was deputy national chairman many years ago. The governors want and end to the old order.”
He confirmed that the zoning of the PDP chairmanship to South West stands, saying that the aspiration of Chief Dokpesi is against the zoning structure.
“Well, the PDP zoned the chairmanship to South West. Anyone who is not from the zone contesting is working against the party’s programme,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Publicity Sub-Committee of the expanded PDP Convention Planning Committee, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, has debunked the misconception that the convention had once again been postponed, advising members to disregard any such rumour.
Ugochukwu observed that the only recognisable interim executive of the PDP by law, empowered to organise a convention, is the one led by Senator Makarfi.
He cited the tacit recognition of the Makarfi committee by the INEC as the only lawful interim apex leadership of the PDP, and the recent judgment given by a high court in Port Harcourt, restraining the security services from interfering with the forthcoming convention, to buttress his argument.
According to him, the Makarfi caretaker committee had worked very hard to achieve its mandate of organising a consensually agreed convention, within 90 days from the date of the rescheduled event.
He said: “The earlier convention hosted at the same venue, Saturday May 21, 2016, had put in place a caretaker committee to steer the affairs of the party on an interim basis.
That convention mandated the interim committee to organise a fresh convention within 90 days, to put in place a substantive national working committee, the highest executive organ of the party, to steer its affairs on a sustainable basis.”
While enjoining members of the PDP to demonstrate loyalty and solidarity with the party by turning out an masse at the convention, Ugochukwu used the opportunity to express the party’s appreciation to governors elected on the platform of the party, for their continued support to ensure the sustenance and survival of the party.
He singled out for special appreciation, Nyesom Wike, the Rivers State governor, for his generosity and conscientiousness in hosting two critical conventions of the party, within the short span of three months, despite the current economic crunch.