A postmortem of PDP’s Special Presidential Convention, By Prof Echefuna’ R. G. ONYEBEADI

Posted by News Express | 6 June 2022 | 453 times

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On the surface, the May 28, 2022 Special Convention of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) looks well organised and quite colourful.

Great organisational skills were on display and everything appeared moving fine safe for a last minute infraction of allowing a sudden and unscheduled halt with a partisan declaration of an aspirant stepping down for another aspirant when the commencement of voting had already been announced. That by itself was an aberration which shouldn’t have been allowed at that point in time.

The journey to the said PDP's convention started with the stormy melodramatic pre-election debacle of the new National Working committee (NWC) of the Party which eventually produced a former Senate President, Dr Iyorcha Ayu, as the National Chairman of the party sometimes last year, 2021.

Dr Iyorcha Ayu was the consensus candidate of the North Central Zone where the position of the National Chairman of the party was micro-zoned to.

The then incumbent National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, had been eased out of office in a dramatic manner which became subject of litigation up to Supreme Court.

The Deputy National Chairman took over the mantle of leadership of the Party and eventually organised the party’s convention that produced the current NWC of the Party to which Dr Iyorcha Ayu became the National Chairman.

All the party positions were zoned then to which the position of National Chairman of the Party was zoned to the North which was further micro-zoned to the North Central but, curiously and surprisingly, that of zoning the Presidential Candidate and other elective positions was deferred to a future date.

Then, political maneuverings and gymnastics took over! The debate of which zone should produce the President having zoned the Party Chairman to the North needlessly took a center stage.

The last presidential candidate of the party (PDP) for the 2019 election, having come from the North to which all the party’s aspirants then were Northerners, a concession made possible by the South, it was expected that the presidential candidate this time around should come from the South in reciprocity and particularly, from South East which has not had any shot at the Presidency either as President or Vice-President after the return to democratic governance since 1999 to date but, that was not to be.

Some vested interests within the party and some argue also that there are some external influences, started the arm twisting game which eventually culminated in the ‘election’ of a Northerner as the presidential candidate of the party in the just concluded special convention of the party, May 28, 2022.

Obviously, the fact that the incumbent President is a Northerner who by 2023 when the election will take place, would have ruled Nigeria for a straight uninterrupted 8 (eight) years wasn”t factored into the choice of the party’s candidate or so it seems.

So, if Nigerians were to elect the party’s candidate as President come 2023, it would then mean that, the North will most likely retain power for another 8 (eight) years to make it a straight unbroken 16 (sixteen) years rule of the North alone in a heterogeneous, multi-ethnic and a highly polarised religious society as Nigeria.

It will mean a Northern Fulani Muslim would be handing over power to another Northern Fulani Muslim back to back after a straight uninterrupted 8 (eight) years rule of a Northern Fulani Muslim come 2023.

It also means that, the North, having ruled Nigeria for 45 years out of 63 years of Nigeria’s independence come 2023, will continue in power for another 8 (eight) years beyond 2023 without being sensitive to the sensibilities of others and without regard to other geopolitical zones that make up Nigeria!

We wait to see how this back to back relay of handing over power to another Northerner come 2023 will eventually play out!

Meanwhile, Nigeria is composed of at least 350 ethnic nationalities spread across the 6 geopolitical zones.

Meanwhile, the resources that have been sustaining Nigeria as a country are largely from the southern parts of the country.

It may be recalled that, Dr Iyorcha Ayu, having emerged as a Northern consensus National Chairman of PDP, had promised in his acceptance speech or thereabout that, he will step down as the party's National Chairman should the Party produce a Northern Presidential Candidate.

Going by the outcome of the PDP’s Special Convention, it seems Dr Iyorcha Ayu had a foreknowledge of what was to come. Otherwise, that his statement was highly uncalled for as at the time it was made!

Now that the Party’s Presidential Candidate is a Northerner, good conscience should dictate and demand that Dr Iyorcha Ayu should keep to his promise by resigning his position as National Chairman of the party immediately after the said convention had produced another Northerner as Presidential Candidate of the party.

As expected, some “politricking” in this regard have started unfolding. Interesting scenarios are loading!...

The way it is now, both the National Chairman and the Presidential Candidate of the party (PDP) are Northerners and this contradicts the constitution of the Party wherein Zoning and Rotation of both elective and appointive positions are enshrined.

Recall also that Chairman of the Presidential Zoning Committee that threw the contest open to all comers is a Northerner from Benue State.

The Chairman of the just concluded special convention of the party is a Northerner from Benue State.

The National Chairman of the party is a Northerner from Benue State and the Presidential Candidate of the party is also a Northerner from Adamawa State. Yet, Benue State is a melting pot of terrorism, illegal usurpation of ancestral lands by invaders and are crying of being marginalised. An opportunity came for them to right the wrong but what did they do with it?

By contrast, the Chairman of the zoning committee for party’s offices was from the South, Enugu State to be precise and they rightly zoned the position of the party’s National Chairman to the North as provided for in the constitution of the party. Then, why the dilly-dally when it came to rightfully zoning the position of Presidential Candidate of the party to the South and South East in particular?

The main question that readily comes to mind in the circumstances highlighted above is whether PDP has not effectively transmuted from a national party to become a Northern Regional Political Party contrary to the vision of the founding leaders of the party?

Another question begging for answer is whether PDP can stand the rigours and test in any Court of competent jurisdiction on the validity of its recent special convention that produced another Northern Presidential Candidate back to back, contrary to the provision of the party's constitution that provided for Zoninig and Rotation of political offices without first amending the party’s constitution?

A question that also begs for answer is whether the just concluded special convention of the party (PDP) can withstand the scrutiny of a judicial process for shifting the goal post at the center of the game, when it allowed a single aspirant out of the many aspirants who had earlier addressed the gathering/convention like other aspirants to express and canvass his interest to contest for the presidential candidacy of the party, to literally breach the process of the election by openly announcing his stepping down for another aspirant at the point of voting by the delegates?

It may be recalled that the 17 Governors of all the Southern States of Nigeria, irrespective of political party affiliations, had earlier issued a joint communique long before the PDP's special convention of May 28, 2022 that, the position of President of Nigeria come 2023 should be zoned to the South in the interest of National Unity, Cohesiveness, Peace, Progress, Inclusiveness, Equity, Fairness and Justice.

So, when the NWC of PDP started selling presidential expression of interest and nomination forms for a record 40 Million Naira to all comers without first settling the issue of which zone should produce the Presidential Candidate of the party, not a few people suspected that something wrong was fishing somewhere.

It was a clear case of putting the cart before the horse.

How do you start a game without first defining and making the rules of the game clear to all?

Hasn’t the end now justified the means? Isn't it apparent now that the NWC of PDP under the leadership of Dr Iyorcha Ayu was only working from the answer to the question?

All said and done, will it be fair to blame the North for working so hard to advance and protect their collective political interest more so when nobody stopped the South from doing same?

The trending analysis of the voting pattern at the just concluded special convention of PDP shows clearly that the Southern delegates rejected their own by voting massively for candidates outside their zone for a pot of pottage!

Can anybody blame the North for that?!

For the North, blood is thicker than water whereas for the South, money is thicker than blood or so it seems!

Whereas the North vigorously, rigorously and ruthlessly pursued and obtained their collective interest quietly, the South seems to mainly mouth their interest without corresponding action(s).

So far, the concluded special convention of PDP is just a leg out of a two legged marathon race. One is the exclusive party’s nomination of its presidential candidate and the other is the general election where eligible voters across Nigeria will participate.

The general election to which millions of eligible voters in Nigeria will decide who becomes the next President of Nigeria as against the less than a thousand delegates picking a presidential candidate of PDP as a party under a severe financial inducement is still months ahead.

It will be quite interesting to see how the entire presidential race for 2023 eventually plays out in the times ahead.

Suffice it to say for now that, the presidential race for 2023 is very pregnant. We await to see what it will give birth to!


Source: News Express

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