Nigeria’s Main Opposition Party PDP Begins Non-Elective Convention Amid Rifts

by Bamidele Ogunberu Posted on August 12th, 2017

Ex-President, Goodluck Jonathan, ex-Vice President, Namadi Sambo, serving and ex-governors, ex-ministers, PDP members in both chambers of the National Assembly and Board of Trustees (BoT) members are expected at the convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which kicks off today. Similarly, founding fathers of the party, ex-principal officers of the National Assembly, state chairmen, local government chairmen, party elders and all members nationwide, are also expected to attend.

Today’s convention will be the largest gathering of the PDP faithful since the party’s 14-month leadership tussle between Senators Ahmed Makarfi and Ali Modu Sheriff was nipped in the bud by the Supreme Court on July 12, 2017. The convention is expected toextend the tenure of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee by few months.

All the PDP bigwigs and power brokers are expected to once again come together under one umbrella to discuss and make key decisions on pertinent issues that will shape the party. The Chairman, Convention Planning Committee, and Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, said though the convention was non-elective it would send a strong signal to the APC and Nigerians that the PDP was set to reclaim power in 2019. A strong show of unity and healing is necessary considering that the party was hit by a gale of defections and lost Edo and Ondo governorship elections during the situation.

The tenure of the current caretaker committee is ending next Wednesday. So in order to avoid any legal issues the non-elective convention will have to extend the tenure of the committee. This will enable them have time to organise an elective convention where new national officers of the party would emerge. This will be the second time the tenure of the committee would be extended.

The leadership of the PDP is supposed to communicate INEC on convention date not less than one month before the day of the elective convention.

The party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) had on August 17, 2016, extended the tenure of the caretaker committee by 12 months. The decision was reached hours after police authorities implemented an Abuja Federal High Court order barring the Makarfi caretaker committee from holding its convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, following the intense leadership situation in the party then.

Going by that decision, the tenure of the committee would end on August 16, 2017.

However, informed sources say the elective convention is likely to hold this November when reconciliation and proper planning would have been done.

Expectations are that the party would amend its constitution to conform with current political realities and dynamics. That includes a reduction in the power of the national chairman, especially in the area of financial control. While the chairman is presently a mandatory signatory to the party’s bank accounts with either the secretary or the treasurer, that is expected to be changed to provide that the treasurer be a mandatory signatory with either the national secretary or financial secretary.That would mean the next PDP chairman will not be a signatory to the party’s bank accounts as was mandatory in the past.

Expected changes include soft landing for returnees in terms of getting automatic re-admission into the party. The returnees would not be given special privileges in terms of contesting elective offices except if granted waiver by the party. This is unlike in the extant constitution where returnees were placed on probation for a period of not less than 12 months.

The party will also consider the election of two national chairmen, one each from the North and South, while the position of national chairman still stood with the person in charge, wielding his power across boards.

Makarfi had at one of the PDP stakeholders meetings he presided over, said many party chieftains who left were ready to return but declined mentioning their names.

Peoples Democratic Party, PDP

Makarfi, a former Governor of Kaduna State, said when he received in audience the PDP Rescue Group led by a former Governor of the defunct Gongola State, Amb. Wilberforce Juta, in Abuja, that the party would not give “special privileges to nomadic politicians.”

He insisted that the PDP must evolve mechanisms for dedicated and loyal party men and women and must learn from the “mistakes” of the ruling APC.

He said, “Nigerian politicians are nomadic politicians who migrate from one political party to another to seek greener pastures.”

With the PDP’s non-elective convention holding today, all eyes are on the leading opposition party to make decisions that will culminate into an elective convention.

Pundits say the PDP will truly be seen as a party ready to reclaim power only when it organises an elective national convention where delegates will elect a credible national chairman and trusted members of the National Working Committee (NWC).

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