By Lateef Ibrahim
It is no longer news that the South -West geo-political zone lost out in its bid to produce the National Chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, at its elective national convention held on Saturday December 9, this year at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
It is also a stale news that some of the chairmanship candidates from the geo-political zone stormed out of the convention ground when it became apparent that the current chairman of the opposition party, Prince Uche Secondus, from Rivers State, in the South-South geo political zone of the country, was coasting home to victory in a land slide manner.
What is however fresh is the current effort being made by the national leadership of the party to pacify or assuage the angst of all aggrieved leaders and members of the party, either arising from the fall out of the convention or other reasons, with a view to bringing them back under the same umbrella (incidentally, umbrella is the symbol of the PDP), in order to maintain a great cohesion within the party as well as avoid factions and frictions in the interest of all that lies ahead for the PDP politically.
The Chairman, National Reconciliation Committee of the PDP and Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Seriake Dickson and members of the committee, which has Ambassador Aminu Wali as Vice Chairman, have since swung into action with the determination to heal all wounds and calm frayed nerves.
At their first meeting, held at the Bayelsa State Governor’s lodge in Asokoro, after the PDP’s elective convention, the committee members left nobody in doubt as to the fact that they are absolutely ready and determined, without leaving any stone unturned, to reach out to all aggrieved members, listen to their grievances and ultimately find solutions to them. The committee in the course of this assignment have reached out to virtually all the Chairmanship candidates from the South-West geo political zone within last week and now. Such visits have taken the committee members to former Deputy National Chairman (South) of the party, Chief Olabode George from Lagos State, former Minister of Education, Prof Tunde Adeniran from Ekiti State, former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former Governor of Oyo State, Chief Rasheed Adewolu Ladoja, former Minister of Sports and Special Duties, Prof Taoheed Adedoja from Oyo State as well as the Governorship candidate of the PDP during the 2015 general elections in Lagos State, Mr Jimi Agbaje among others.
The Chairman of the National Reconciliation Committee of the party, Hon Seriake Dickson, at the end of the meeting in Abuja last week, made it categorically clear that the committee members were not ready to be found wanton in the task of reconciling all aggrieved members.
Dickson pointed out that the process of reaching out to all aggrieved members, especially the chairmanship aspirants who lost out in Saturday’s national convention of the party in Abuja, with a view to reconciling with them.
The Bayelsa Governor confirmed that members of the committee have reached out to aggrieved National chairmanship aspirants/candidates with a view to addressing all emerging issues after the convention.
Dickson said that the committee’s efforts so far were positive and were well received by all the contestants who were contacted shortly after the convention.
According to him, “We have discussed the state of affairs, and developing issues and it is our pleasure to let you know that concerning developments after the elective convention which are not strange to any of you. Generally, we are pleased with the outcome of the exercise.
“We have established contacts already with those who are, for one reason or the other, dissatisfied and who have concerns and issues, and grievances and which is normal in an exercise such as this.
“We can report to you that the efforts we have made so far to establish contact with all chairmanship aspirants, and indeed we intend to interact with all other aspirants.
“All those who purchased forms, all those who actually contested, it is our intention to engage and interact with them to find out what the challenges and issues are with a view to promoting amicable resolution and promoting better understanding within the PDP family.
“We are pleased to announce that our contact with all the major candidates, with all the chairmanship candidates was very positive, our overtures were well received, and in the next couple of days and weeks, we are going to see a lot of activities undertaken by this committee, and also we are at liberty to co-opt other party leaders whose input would be helpful”, he said.
Dickson however urged all members and leaders to avoid utterances which could inflame passion and send out the wrong and unintended messages within the party.
He stressed that the committee was against utterances from leaders and members which could aggravate the situation on the ground.
His words, “I want to also, on behalf of this committee, make an appeal, the committee takes it very seriously. We want to make an appeal to all members and leaders of our party, with no exception to be careful about statements they are making on this matter at this time.
“We don’t want a situation where statements that are provocative are made by party members and especially party leaders that will inflame passion. Our appeal to all party leaders and members is to exercise caution and to show restrain”
He added that the committee would also interact with those who left the party in order to facilitate their return to the fold of the party.
While the reconciliation committee is going on with its assignment of reconciling the party with all aggrieved members, one of the chairmanship candidates of the party, Prof Taoheed Adedoja has however approached a court of law, praying that the election of Prince Uche Secondus as the National Chairman of the PDP be declared null and void.
Prof Taoheed, through his lawyers- Messrs Rickey Tarfa & Co.-filed a suit on Monday at the Federal High Court in Abuja with suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/1225/2017 between Prof. Taoheed Adedoja and (1) Sen. (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa (2) Dr. Ibrahim Umar (3) Prince Uche Secondus (4) PDP and (5) INEC, seeking among others:
Pray the court to declare the election of national chairman of PDP held at Eagle Square in Abuja on December 09, 2017, null and void
Pray the court to declare as null and void any document submitted by PDP or by the purported occupier of the position of the national chairman to INEC;
Pray the court for the cancellation of the national chairmanship election held on Saturday December 09, 2017 at Eagle Square Abuja
Pray the court to order the conduct of another elective National Convention for the election of national chairman within 30 days of nullification of the elective national convention held on December 09, 2017
Restrain INEC from recognizing Uche Secondus as the National Chairman of PDP on the ground that the election where Uche Secondus was declared national chairman of PDP, where I was unlawfully excluded from the list of the contestants for the position of national chairman of PDP is a flagrant violation of the electoral act, the constitution of PDP, the guidelines for the conduct of PDP national convention, and the constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria.
The former Minister of Sports and Special Duties pointed out that having built a political career for 14 years, the declaration of a zero (0) score by PDP credited to him at the convention has embarrassed and maligned him and brought great ridicule to his political standing and goodwill nationally and internationally.
According to him, “Since the announcement of the result, I have suffered psychological trauma as a result of the public ridicule the election result has caused me, my family members, friends, political associates and numerous supporters across the country.
“My lawyers are demanding for appropriate compensation for damages, ridicule, embarrassment and disrepute brought to my name as a result of my willful exclusion from participating in the election resulting to zero (0) score credited to my name which is now in public domain.
“I was a signatory to the peace accord signed by all chairmanship aspirants to the effect that the outcome of the election will be accepted by all national chairmanship aspirants with the proviso that the election will be free and fair. In this case the election was not free and fair hence seeking redress in the court of law”, he stated.
In view of the latest development, how far can this reconciliation committee of the PDP go in achieving its objective of reconciling the aggrieved members of the party? How sincere and truthful are he aggrieved members of the party in telling the committee that they will continue to work for the progress and victory of the party? Can the assurances given by the aggrieved members to the committee that they will continue to do everything for the progress of the party be taken with all seriousness? Time will definitely tell as to the genuineness of the assurances of the members as well as how far the reconciliation committee members can go in their assignment.