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PDP CONVENTION! THE DIE IS CAST

Posted by By JACOB EDI, Abuja on 2008/03/08 | Views: 1167 |

PDP CONVENTION! THE DIE IS CAST


After the collapse of several meetings to produce a consensus candidate to contest the Peoples Democratic Party’s [PDP] top post all 25 chairmanship hopefuls seem ready to test their popularity through the ballot box.

* 25 candidates file out, as party fails to produce consensus candidate

After the collapse of several meetings to produce a consensus candidate to contest the Peoples Democratic Party’s [PDP] top post all 25 chairmanship hopefuls seem ready to test their popularity through the ballot box.

The convention was billed to hold since last year, but had to be postponed twice because the ruling PDP had some brush with the nation’s electoral umpire, INEC.

Apparently operating in the days when and where rule of law was given a modicum of consideration in matters of state policy, the PDP went ahead to announce a date for its national convention without due recourse to the Electoral Act which requires it to inform INEC 21 days to the date of convention.
INEC had its way eventually and PDP finally agreed to hold the convention on March 8.

Although all the posts will be contested, the chairmanship post has generated more heat. With the zoning of the position to South East, of course only qualified aspirants from that zone have filed out to contest the seat - and they too, in their numbers. But while some are serious contenders, there are others who are not very-serious contenders. Some are even in the race to bargain for appointments after the election. In fact, it was gathered that for some, the mere fact of aspiration, is even a big deal. “This will add up to my CV,” one of the aspirants, off-guardedly, told this reporter.

The number of aspirants pouring into the race however became a matter of concern for the Igbo political elite. For this reason, discussions began at different levels, on the need to prune down the number of aspirants. Such considerations as the statistics of political office holders produced by each state of the zone became an issue in the early calculus of producing a consensus candidate. This line of thought since gave way to issues like national acceptability, who-is-more-sellable or ‘sellability’ as well as other extraneous considerations like who-is-backing-who.

Quite naturally, some of the aspirants who are not favoured by the above calculation began to openly challenge the veracity and democratic status of consensus. They argued, at various times that both zoning and consensus are at variance with democratic ethos and so all the aspirants should be allowed to canvass for votes. The aggregate of their points of angst is that consensus candidature is a euphemism for imposition.

And asked why the Igbos are unable to come under one umbrella to pick one candidate as the zone’s tusk-bearer, a good number of the aspirants insist that the Igbo nation are republicans in nature and ipso facto, are not used to any consensus arrangement.

At the time of this report, only two of the aspirants have become a rallying point of all the forces within the party and any of the candidate that wins could mean automatic political death for the opposing force. They are former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim and former governor Sam Ominyi Egwu. Both are from Ebonyi State.

In fact on Friday, even those in the race had begun to queue behind these two aspirants. It was learnt that by Friday, Anyim and Egwu, both holed up at the Transcorp Hilton hotel, held talks, separately, with their group of aspirants-turn-supporters on the possibility of collaboration.
Saturday Sun learnt that the insincerity of the architects of the early consensus arrangement did some incalculable damage to the entire process.

In the beginning.
Initially, talks for the aspirants to adopt a consensus candidate was spearheaded by some of the weak aspirants with the hope that should it work out, the possibility of ‘settlement’ or ‘appreciation’ as the case may be, would be considered or lobbied for.
No fewer than six meetings were held. All the meetings ended in a deadlock with higher stakes. The big aspirants began to give conditions which some of the smaller ones considered unrealistic.
For in stance, it was gathered that while the big names kept agreeing on the consensus arrangement, none of them wanted to make the sacrifice, rather they insisted, respectively, to step down for a better candidate. This rather insincere preparedness to step down became the major challenge of the early architects of the consensus deal.

The Obasanjo conundrum.
Early into the build up to the campaigns, former President Obasanjo pitched his tent with former governor Egwu. OBJ’s support initially was a plus for Egwu but as time went by, it elicited an almost passionate dislike for the former governor. This brought together the anti-OBJ elements within the party. But in today’s election it will no doubt play a role in deciding how far Egwu will go. For those who dislike the former President, Egwu’s defeat will go along way in reducing OBJ’s strangle-hold on the party.
Interestingly, Egwu’s supporters are not unaware of this feeling, hence the decision for OBJ to openly campaign for the former governor even as chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees [BOT]

The G21 challenge.
Dubbed a group of reformists within the party, the G21 are hell-bent on seeing the former President loose influence within the party. But their attempt to go it through due process has so far been disastrous. The group’s initial attempt to achieve a review of the party constitution to, among other things, weaken OBJ’s powers in the party was knocked-off on technical grounds. The party refused to accept the group’s notice of constitutional amendment sent to NEC through the national secretary of the party.
According to Benard Eze, party scribe, the notice was given a few days short of the PDP’s constitutional requirement for such letters to be adopted for discussion. Accordingly, it will not be listed on the agenda for today’s discussion. Nevertheless, the level of awareness created by the group on one side and the Integrity Group at House of Representatives will not escape the consciousness of the delegates as they vote today.
Apparently not resting on its oars, the G21 tried the court option to get an injunction to stop the convention until the issue of the constitutional amendment is sorted out. But legal technicalities did not help their case.
As at the time of this report, there is no likelihood that some members of the group will be delegates in today’s convention and that speaks volumes.
But one major set back is that former Speaker, Aminu Bello Masari, who is G21’s second-in-command reportedly seconded the motion that baptized OBJ as BOT chairman. So some party members are actually at a quandary on whose side he is fighting.

So who is backing Anyim?
For Anyim and his band of supporters, wining the election is faith accompli. A former Senate President who refused to seek a second term, Anyim and his group believe he has all it takes to lead the party and also stand-up to Obasanjo.
But one controversy trailing this former member of the upper legislative arm is whether he has “quit politics and the PDP” or not, or whether he is/was a member of DPA? There are reports though that he may be a favored candidate of the presidency. Those who advance this argument hold strongly that he may be President Yar’Adua’s joker to take over party machineries as leader of the party. Secondly, there are reported meetings between Chief Tony Anenih and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation [SGF], Alhaji Baba Gana Kingible. Both men are believed to have the President’s ears.
For whatever it is worth, how he plays on the relationship with the anti-OBJ forces will determine which way the pendulum would swing for him.

The Governors Forum.
They will play a critical role on who becomes the next chairman of the party. From the states, they are leading delegates to the convention some of whom are in the payroll of these governors. However they are yet to come to an agreement on who to back since they all have agenda to pursue.
Most of the governors, it was gathered, are already looking forward to 2011 and all their actions are dictated by this. Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Bukola Saraki of Kwara, it was learnt is pursuing an agenda that will facilitate his presidential ambition in 2011. Saturday Sun learnt that this has even pitched him against OBJ who reportedly opposed Saraki’s moves to get the forum to adopt Abubakar Baraje as National Secretary of the party. OBJ was said to have told the Kwara governor that the Sarakis cannot take everything in the state. For this reason he is out supporting Senator Tunde Ogbeha.
Sources said that even members of the NASS will look up to their governors before taking a position.

Last line.
Where ever the pendulum swings, one faction that will certainly not have its way is the ordinary voter. Whichever option they choose in today’s election will only be doing the wishes of the gladiators who only use the party and the candidates as battleground.
But all these calculations may still change following whatever comes out late Thursday’s governors meeting and Friday’s emergency NEC meeting.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.