2019: PDP convention raises fresh concerns for opposition party

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Newly elected national chairman, Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Prince Uche Secondus says he has just one agenda- to return the opposition party to power in 2019.
Since his emergence as leader of Nigeria’s main opposition party, seven days ago, Secondus has not left anyone in doubt about his desire to regain power for the PDP in the 2019 polls.
In his inaugural speech at the Eagle Square,venue of the PDP national convention, the opposition leader issued the ruling All Progressives Congress( APC), a quit notice.
According to him, new members of the PDP National Working Committee(NWC) have a clear and unambiguous mandate to return the party to power in 2019.
Consequently, he declared that the tenancy of the APC in Nigeria’s seat of power, Aso Rock Villa, will elapse on May 29, 2019.
“It is crystal clear to all Nigerians, that APC is not a political party, but a body hurriedly assembled to seize power without a clear cut plan for governance. Let me assure you great members and leaders of our party, that by the grace of God and with all hands on deck, the brief tenancy of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Aso Rock Villa expires on May 28, 2019. By this, we serve them a quit notice,” the PDP leader stated.
Also speaking at the PDP national secretariat, Wadata Plaza, 24 hours later, Secondus reiterated the desire of the party leadership to sack the ruling party at the next general election. He said the ruling party has brought untold hardship to Nigerians, noting that sacking them from power is a task that must be done.
Secondus said:”We know that the APC and their government are broken. They are running a broken government. We need to rescue our nation from their hands to rebuild our country once more.
“We will never be distracted by the ruling party and their false propaganda. Nigerians know the truth now that all they have been saying in the last two years are mere lies.
“Nigerians can no longer be fooled by false propaganda. They will hear the truth and the truth will save the country, not by false propaganda,”
However, Sunday Sun can authoritatively report that the outcome of the just concluded national convention of the PDP has raised new challenges for the opposition party.
Analysts say these issues, if not addressed to the satisfaction of key stakeholders in the PDP, the party’s ambition to retake power at the centre and majority of the states in 2019 may just end as a day dream.
Although the party has been congratulating itself for a successful convention; aggrieved party members say the emergence of the new party leaders through a “ unity list”, leaves much to be desired.
Recall that midway into voting, a list of aspirants tagged “unity list” with Secondus as national chairman started circulating at the Eagle Square, venue of the convention.
At the end of voting every aspirant on the “unity list” emerged to the disappointment of their opponents.
“Unity lists” are not new to the PDP, especially during its national convention; but the aim is usually to accomondate every interest group in the party.
A school of thought say for a party that was emerging from a bitter leadership crisis, what the PDP leaders should have aimed for is a Unity Convention, where all the various interest groups would have been accommondated in the new leadership.
Analysts say the outcome of the convention may deepen the schism in different states chapters of the party, where cracks existed prior to the convention. This is a drawback for the opposition party in its quest to regain power in 2019.
“Our party has been personalised in states like Imo and to some extent Ogun.That’s not good; to personalise PDP, a party in opposition is a political crime and a disaster waiting to happen,” an aggrieved party member told Sunday Sun.
Former deputy national chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George had described events before the convention thus:”it appears the PDP is now bent on self destruction. It has obviously allowed money moguls to dictate its thematic largeness. The party has lost its soul. It has lost its principled beginning and the predications of righteousness. It has traded the finer principles of democratic guidance and equity for the squalid, dirty and shameful resort to mercenary agenda where nothing matters save the putrid, oafish gains of the moment.”
However, Secondus has declared the convention, a no victor, no vanquished contest, promising to engender a new order in the party.
2019 permutations
Inside sources fear that the outcome of the recent convention may have altered the 2019 permutation of the opposition party as regarding the zoning of party offices.
Sunday Sun gathered that in the aftermath of the PDP loss in the 2015 general elections, the party enunciated a new zoning arrangement.
It was gathered that under the proposed zoning arrangement, the South East would produce the vice presidential candidate of the party in 2019. On the other hand, the South South was tipped to produce the Senate Presidency.
It was already taken for granted that the South West would produce the national chairmanship of the opposition. However, with the South South clinching the PDP chairmanship,nothing is sure anymore regarding the zoning of offices.
A party’s dilemma
One of the greatest challenge confronting the PDP in the run-up to the 2019 general election is how to pacify the South West, which feels cheated with the outcome of the recent convention.
George, who withdrew from the chairmanship contest on the eve of the convention, had said the inability of the party leadership to enforce the micro-zoning of the chairmanship to the South West was a direct insult to the people of the zone.
He said “everywhere you look, the Yoruba people are now being brazenly insulted. The very traditional fiber of our founding fathers are now being trampled upon, debased and soiled by external forces and mercenary traitors within.”
The APC, apparently seeking to gain political capital from the anger in the South West over the loss of the PDP chairmanship seat, said the opposition party is taking a revenge on the zone for its role in the 2015 polls.
According to the APC spokesman, Bolaji Abdullahi, “by frustrating South West Chairmanship candidates, it is unfortunate that the PDP has decided to punish the South West for not voting for the Party in 2015.”
But the immediate past national chairman of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi says the South West has not lost anything by not producing the new national chairman of the opposition party.
According to Makarfi, “No part of this country should feel they have lost anything. If you don’t get one thing, you will get another thing. What we want is the government, because that is where every part of this country will be adequately accommodated.”
Sunday Sun gathered that as a way of pacifying the South West, the position of vice presidential candidate, earlier penciled down for the South East, may be given to the zone. Prior to the convention, it was speculated that the Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose did not want the chairmanship to come to the South West because he has his eyes on the PDP vice presidential ticket. Fayose, who doubles as the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum had earlier declared interest to contest for the presidential ticket, which is zoned to the North.
If this happens, the South East would have to make do with the Senate Presidency.
A PDP chieftain from the South East, who pleaded anonymity said the party should compensate the South West for their loss of the national chairmanship. However, he said giving the zone, the vice presidential ticket, which has been penciled down for the South East would be tantamount to “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.
The party chief said for the people of the South East, who have always supported the PDP, it would be most unfair for the party to deny them the opportunity of producing a vice presidential candidate in the 2019 polls.
PDP governors as power brokers
PDP is a “Governors Party.” What this means is that whatever the governors want in the opposition party they will surely get.
Prior to the national convention, two power blocs emerged in the party. One of the blocs consisted of the PDP governors and their supporters. The objective of this bloc was the enthronement of Secondus as national chairman.
On the other hand, the other consisted of all those opposed to the emergence of Secondus as the new leader of the party. At the end of the day, the governors prevailed.
The emergence of the new national chairman validates the position of the PDP governors as the real owners of the party. However, pundits say having enthroned the new leadership of the party, the next assignment for the governors is to decide who becomes the PDP presidential candidate and the running mate.
The fear is that if the governors settle for a presidential candidate that is not generally acceptable to critical stakeholders; the party’s 2019 project will be in jeopardy.
Quest for Reconciliation
In its determined bid to heal the wounds from the convention, the PDP Post-Convention Committee headed by Bayelsa State governor, Henry Seriake Dickson has been reaching out to aggrieved party leaders.
Already, the committee has met with party leaders, who are aggrieved with the outcome of the national convention. In all the visits, the party leaders pledged not to leave the PDP. However, analysts say staying in the party and working for the success of the party in the next general elections are two different things.
For an opposition party seeking to win the 2019 general election, it is obvious that the PDP needs to get its acts togather. And this includes ensuring that all its members are on the same page.
There is no doubt that the outcome of the last PDP national convention has thrown up a lot of issues in the opposition party.
How the Secondus led NWC is able to resolve all these issues to the satisfaction of the generality of members will determine how far the PDP will go in its quest to regain power in 2019.

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