11 August 2017

Nigeria: PDP Kicks Off Convention Activities

Abuja — The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will friday commence activities marking its first national convention since the Supreme Court victory.

The National Caretaker Committee (NCC) headed by Senator Ahmed Makarfi will friday hold a press conference in Abuja to intimate its members on what to expect at tomorrow's event which will take place at the Eagles Square pavilion.

However, ahead of the convention an elder statesman and an eminent leader of the Ijaw ethnic nationality, Chief Edwin Clark has suggested that the extension of the tenure of the NCC of the party by only three months to enable it organise a national convention to elect new national officers.

He said the party must insist that any member of the caretaker committee interested in running for the offices of the president, governor or senate in the 2019 general election should step down now.

Clark in a statement issued thursday concerning Saturday's non-elective national convention of the PDP, also advised the party to guard against the practice of relying on governors, government functionaries and candidates provides logistics and convey delegates to convention venues.

"While in the party I paid my dues to its fullest until I retired from partisan politics in 2015. Even though, I have retired from partisan politics, I have observed the PDP constitution and the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), and wish to state as follows:

"Markarfi's committee should be given at most another three months to allow new executives and other organs of the party to be elected and let the party move on. Any time longer than three months will not be in the interest of the party.

"I strongly recommend that direct Primaries should be adopted where delegates should be made to vote at their localities, where no one will take advantage and manipulate them

"If presidential election is to take place in February 2019, the minimum time required by an elected executive needs more than 12 months to settle than.

"If there are interested members of the caretaker committee in elected positions, such as president, senator or governor. Such persons should not remain in office as members of the caretaker committee for more than three months," he said.

Clark also said part of the Senator Ekweremadu Committee Report which zoned the presidency to the North, and the national chairman to the South should be adopted.

Let all presidential aspirants from the 19 states of the North be subjected to one primaries; whereas, all national chairmanship candidates from the 17 states of the South also be subjected to one primary to contest together, so as to produce the best candidate, to practicalise democracy," he added.

Meanwhile the party has screened its aspirants for the Nobember 8 governorship election in Anambra State"

Among the governorship aspirants of the PDP who appeared before the screening committee thursday include, Alex Obiogbolu, Oseloka Obazee, Patrick Ifeanyi Uba, Stelka Odua, Linda Ikpeaxu, John Okechukwu Emeka and Offordike Akolisa

Meanwhile, ahead of the special convention, the Chairman of the Convention Planning Committee and Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, has said the party was ready to organise a successful event. Okowa stated this yesterday while inspecting the Eagles Square, venue for the convention, assuring party members that every necessary arrangements have been taken care of.

"We just came to see what is on ground, I believe that our people will be safe because we have everything under control, we are not expecting any hitches at all, we are doing very well as a party and as a committee, in this kind of planning you will have some challenges here and there but there are solutions being proffered for every one of it and we are confident that we are on the right track and it shall be well on Saturday," he said.

Okowa assured the party that high profile Nigerians will join the party within the next three weeks, stressing: "This is a new PDP and with the excitement we saw after the supreme court victory amongst Nigerians and not only PDP followers, I believe that a lot of people who thought that the party was going to implode by itself will realise that we are back alive and ready to offer what it takes to better the lives of Nigerians.

"From the way things are going presently in this country, i believe Nigerians will realise that PDP is the only alternative that can bring Nigeria out of her present economic challenges," he added.

Many of our members that left earlier due to one form of disagreement or the other will return back to their party because the National Caretaker Committee has constituted a Reconciliation Committee as well as a Contact and Mobilisation Committee to reach out to them.

In a related development, Makarfi has assured members of the party that the issues relating to the South-west zone of the party have been resolved.

According to Makarfi, "In politics there are always issues but what is important is that we sit down and resolve the issues in a civil manner.

"Yesterday, we had a prolong meeting with the leaders from the zone to resolve the issues and no matter what you are doing as a political party, you must lose some members and also gain others.

"As a party we will continue to work hard not to lose anybody, but will work much harder to bring in more members to the party," he said.

In another development, former Senate President, Senator David Mark has called on the PDP to avoid mistakes in Saturday's convention, and harped on the need for a hitch free convention.

In a statement issued yesterday, Mark again dismissed speculations that he would decamp from the party to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

He appealed to the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa-led Convention Committee to ensure the conduct of a convention that would unite the party and provide a sense of belonging to its members.

"I am impressed with the renewed enthusiasm and commitment of our members towards rebuilding the party after the protracted leadership tussle," Mark said.

"We have come this far through a tortuous journey. We cannot afford to make another mistake that could affect the fortunes of the party in the days ahead," he added.

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