Editor-in-chief Felix Ajide
The just concluded Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention in Abuja, the FCT, may well have come as a battle fought between the Governors elected on the platform of the party and themselves and won also only by the same Governors.
This is because only the candidates endorsed by the Governors as zoned to their States or regions were elected into the new NWC of the party, thereby making the governors effectively in charge of the structure of the opposition party, with the emergence of a new party leadership.
Expectedly, former Senate President, Senator Iyorchia Ayu emerged the new national chairman of the PDP, at the party’s national convention held between yesterday and today, having been endorsed by the Northern Caucus, while Senator Samuel Anyanwu emerged the national secretary, having also been endorsed by the South East Caucus piloted by the two PDP Governors in the zone – Okezie Ikpeazu and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi -and immediate past Imo State Governor, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha.
Former Oyo State deputy Governor, Taofeek Arapaja, Governor Seyi Makinde’s candidate, emerged as deputy national chairman( South), with a total of 2,004 votes to defeat former Osun State Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who polled 705 votes.
Also, Umar Damagum scored a total of 2,222 votes to defeat his sole rival, Mrs. Inna Ciroma, who polled 365 votes, for the position of deputy national chairman (North).
Ahmed Mohammed, Umar Bature and Daniel Woyegikuro emerged unopposed as national treasurer, national organising secretary and national financial secretary, respectively.
Others elected are Stella Effah-Attoe as national woman leader; Kamaldeen Adeyemi Ajibade, national legal adviser; Debo Ologunagba, national publicity secretary; Mohammed Suleiman, national youth leader; Okechukwu Daniel, national auditor and Setonji Kosheodo, deputy national secretary amongst others.
There are indications that prior to the national convention, the PDP governors had shared key positions in the National Working Committee (NWC) amongst themselves and ensured that no other candidates contested against their choice candidates for the various positions.
It was also gathered that immediately the PDP Governors’ Forum decided on the zoning of party offices, individual Governors were given a free hand to decide who filled the NWC seat ceded to their respective geo-political zones.
Consequently, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, who is the only PDP governor in the North Central, produced the national chairman, while Governors Ahmadu Fintiri and Bala Mohammed of Adamawa and Bauchi States respectively produced the deputy national chairman (North), which was micro-zoned to the North East.
Similarly, Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde produced the deputy national chairman (South), with the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and his Abia State counterpart, Okezie Ikpeazu producing the National Secretary.
Also, the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal produced the National Organizing Secretary.
It was gathered after sharing the NWC seats, the governors proceeded to push for consensus, with their preferred aspirants as the choice of PDP stakeholders.
However, in situations where they could not achieve consensus, like in the positions of deputy national chairman (North) and deputy national chairman (South), the Governors decided to rally themselves to ensure that only candidates supported by their colleagues emerged at the convention.
That was how, according to a reliable party source, former Osun State Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, lost in the contest for the position of National Deputy Chairman (South) to Taofeek Arapaja, Governor Seyi Makinde’s candidate.
The outcome of the convention has been described as a dress rehearsal for the PDP 2023 presidential primaries.
According to the source, immediately the former Osun State Governor lost the support of Makinde, the other 12 PDP Governors decided to rally round their Oyo counterpart against him.
“Immediately Oyinlola lost the support of Makinde, he also lost the support of the other governors. Though he had the support of Atiku Abubakar, Bukola Saraki and Sule Lamido, the governors were determined that no candidate would emerge without their support.
At the end of the day, only candidates backed by the governors emerged. The governors are optimistic that same thing will happen during the presidential primary. They have taken full control of the party,” the source stated.
However, former Minister of Transport, Ebenezer Babatope said in a telephone interview that the influence of the governors in determining NWC members was not new.
Babatope recalled that “when the last time my friend, Olabode George contested for the chairmanship of the party, they (governors) came out with a unity list. I have always objected to that kind of list. But they came out in support of Secondus and ensured he defeated Bode George. What has happened now?”
Meanwhile, Ayu, while speaking after his election, as the new PDP chairman, assured the opposition party would regain power in 2023, so as to reunite Nigerians.
The former Senate President added that once PDP regained control of the government, it would reenact its successes in the 16 years it held sway as the ruling party..
He said: “When we started this party 23 years ago, we never in any way imagined that the journey would get us to this stage, a stage where we ruled for 16 years. We went into rough times, but for anybody who bothers to see, PDP is back. PDP is back to rescue Nigeria from the terrible mess we have been in in the last six years.
“Many people imagine that this convention will lead to the break off for the PDP those people who are dreaming like that. They were dreaming in wonderland. Their dreaming were misplaced.
“Those who have lost hope should know that Nigeria is not a divided country. A small group of people decided to divide Nigeria. PDP will come back unite our people, put them together, North and South, East and West.
“We will move ahead to develop this country. We did it before. We are going to do it again. I want to thank the governors.
“I want to thank the delegates. I want to thank our supporters and every single person who has made this event such a huge success.”
The new PDP chairman challenged the All Progressives Congress( APC) to hold their national convention, if they can.
“This is a challenge to them. Let them come and hold a successful convention which the PDP has done. This is a quit notice. PDP is back and is taking back the country to develop it,” he declared.