Sharp divisions have again emerged in the troubled Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with leaders sharply divided ahead of the party’s December 9 convention.
Prof. Tunde Adeniran, a chairmanship aspirant, has petitioned the party over the list of the panelists who will conduct the ward delegates’ election, saying they are Uche Secondus’ men. Secondus is also running.
Another aspirant, Chief Olabode George, Tuesday, advised Caretaker Chairman Ahmed Makarfi to resign “forthwith” because “he has been severely compromised … he is already tarred and soiled in the muddy waters of partisan prejudice. He can no longer play the role of a neutral arbiter”.
George’s campaign organisation, in a statement, accused Makarfi of destroying the PDP for personal gain.
But Makarfi urged George not to blame his frustration on him, adding that it is because he had not done George’s bidding that he launched an attack against him.
The statement signed by Director-General of the George Campaign, Alhaji Ibrahim K. Aliu, said: “Apparently spurred by personal ambition of contesting for the Presidential office in 2019, Makarfi is brazenly allying with a particular aspirant in the Southsouth to deliberately distort the process, muddle equity and invariably destroy the democratic process for transient personal gains.”
“Makarfi’s action, to put it mildly, is sickening, untoward, blatantly tendentious, totally stripped of the typical moral high ground that often defines a well-meaning, God-fearing arbitrating leadership.
“Everywhere you look, Makarfi is planting the agents of his favorite Southsouth candidate to stage manage warped and skewed congresses in an undisguised mockery of all the normative patterns of our founding fathers whose enduring forte about equity, justice and fairness is now being flung into the gutter. In a way, Makarfi is evidently resolved to repeat the farcical malady that characterised the debacle in Port Harcourt last year.
“We have equally resolved that we will not be led along this ruinous path again. Never.”
“Makarfi should now do the most honourable thing by walking away and face his ambition squarely. He cannot use a privileged non-elective position to wangle undue advantage to his own side. It is patently unacceptable.
“We need to redeem our party by being faithful to the great ideals of our founding fathers. We really believe that elders of the party across the nation should summon an emergency summit to deliberate on the right way to restrategise our party and rectify the wrongs on the ground.
“All the elders across the zones must take it as a priority that this party can only be redeemed and restore to its winning ways when we are all sincere, genuine, and anchored on the path of salvaging righteousness”.
Accusing George and Adeniran of crying wolf where there is none, Makarfi, in an sms to our correspondent’s enquiries, said George and a few other chairmanship aspirants mounted pressure on him to micro zone the chairmanship to the Southwest to favour them but that he resisted.
“I have refused to do so because I don’t have the power. Only the National Executive Committee (NEC) can do that.
“I saw a letter today alleging that five out of about 160 congress committee members are aligned to a particular candidate.
“Assuming that is so, then how about the remaining 155 members? Who are they aligned to? They should just campaign hard to win.”
Power brokers in the PDP may have resolved to mobilise support for Prince Uche Secondus based on some political calculations.
A party source who spoke with our correspondent in confidence on Tuesday, said key stakeholders were of the strong opinion that a national chairman from the Southwest would easily be overwhelmed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) machinery in the zone.
According to them, with the APC controlling five of the six states in the Southwest, it would be difficult for a PDP national chairman from the zone to make any meaningful impact in the zone.
“More so, we can’t say for sure that we are going to retain Ekiti State, which is the only PDP state in the Southwest come 2018. So with the situation on ground, it will be politically-unwise for PDP to elect a national chairman from the Southwest,” the source said.
However, Secondus has denied that the Ahmed Makarfi-led National Working Committee is working in his interest.
Secondus dismissed the insinuation that he was drafted into the race by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose.
He said he only consulted widely by selling his candidacy to governors, former governors, critical party leaders and delegates, thereby having an advantage over others.
The aspirant said although he vied for national deputy chairman at the botched Port-Harcourt convention, the dynamic nature of politics made him to seek the highest party office.
He denied the allegation that the Makarfi interim leadership was working for his emergence, saying that it lacked substance.
Secondus said while other contenders were mounting visible campaigns across the regions, he consulted underground and secured the support of those that matter in the party.
He lamented that some aspirants decided to mount campaigns of calumny and blackmail against him because he had been ahead of them in consultation and mobilisation.
Acknowledging the sentiments that the slot should have been micro-zoned to the Southwest, the former acting chairman said the consideration that the party should be led by a competent person who can deliver in 2019 displaced the sentiment.
He said: “I will deliver my state and my zone in 2019 election and other leaders will deliver their states and zones, and our party will win the election.”
Secondus said the campaigns against him were borne out of the fact that he had become a candidate to beat at the convention.
He chided those criticising him for allegedly misappropriating party funds, saying that their allegations were unfounded.
Secondus directed them to the party secretariat for a thorough investigation and verification from the party’s treasurer and director of Finance.
He said he had abstained from the love of money, based on the moral instruction of his mentors, including the late Senator Melford Okilo and Pa Dappa Biriye.
Secondus added: “I can describe myself as a founding chieftain of the party. I have been there from the beginning. I was a state chairman. I was the national organising secretary. I had served as the national deputy chairman and acting national chairman. I know the party and the challenges facing the party.”
He described himself as the most qualified person to steer the affairs of the party, recalling that he had served as acting national chairman, following the exit of Alhaji Adamu Muazu as chairman.