•I’m not aware —Sheriff
CHAIRMAN of the Publicity Sub-Committee of the expanded Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Convention Planning Committee, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, has said nothing will stop the August 17 convention of the party taking place in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
He invited all stakeholders of the party to come out en masse to give a new lease of life to the party.
In a statement issued in Abuja, at the weekend, Ugochukwu debunked the misconception that the convention had once again been postponed, advising members to disregard such rumour.
In an obvious reference to information insinuating the rescheduling of the convention, Ugochukwu observed that the only recognisable interim executive of the PDP by law, empowered to organise a convention, was the one led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
He cited the tacit recognition of the Makarfi committee by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the only lawful interim apex leadership of the PDP and the recent judgment given by a high court in Port Harcourt, restraining the security services from interferring with the forthcoming convention to buttress his argument.
According to him, the Makarfi Caretaker Committee had worked very hard to achieve its mandate of organising a consensually agreed convention within 90 days from the date of the rescheduled event.
The earlier convention, hosted at the same venue, on Saturday, May 21, had put in place a caretaker committee to steer the affairs of the party on an interim basis.
That convention mandated the interim committee to organise a fresh convention within 90 days, to put in place a substantive national working committee, the highest executive organ of the party, to steer its affairs on a sustainable basis.
Ugochukwu used the opportunity to express the party’s appreciation to governors elected on the platform of the party, for their continued support to ensure the sustenance and survival of the party.
He singled out for special appreciation, the Rivers State governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, for his generosity and conscientiousness in hosting two critical conventions of the party within the short span of three months, despite the current economic crunch.
Meanwhile, claimant to the office of the national chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has said he is not aware of the plan by the party to have its repeat national convention in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The convention organised by the National Caretaker Committee led by Senator Makarfi comes up on Wednesday, to elect new members of the National Working Committee (NWC).
It is a follow up of the May 21 convention at the same venue, which removed Sheriff from office and set up a national caretaker committee.
The convention is coming against futile effort to reach a common ground between the caretaker committee and Sheriff, who had continued to insist that he is the national chairman of the party till 2018, despite the confirmation by a high court judgment of the caretaker committee as the authentic leadership of the PDP.
The latest meeting convened by party stakeholders to resolve the lingering leadership crisis met a brick wall on Saturday, as Sheriff demanded that the national caretaker committee be dissolved.
The party has now decided to ignore Sheriff and go ahead with the convention in the Rivers State capital.
However, Sheriff has written off the convention, saying he would go ahead with his own plan of “fixing” the party.
Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune on phone, on Sunday, Special Assistant to Sheriff on Media and Publicity, Inuwa Bwala, said Sheriff was not interested in the convention, as he was busy doing other things.
He said the former Borno State governor was watching to see if Makarfi would succeed in his objective, but declined to say whether he would attempt to stop the convention.
He said: “We don’t have to be reacting. He is doing his convention, we are doing some other things. They are putting us on the defensive and that will not sell.
“We are not part of it, we don’t know about it and we will not even comment about it.
“Let’s just wait and see whether he will have his way.
“We are fixing the party. We are trying to bring aggrieved members on board so that we can move the party forward.”
When pressed on what Sheriff might do next, Bwala stated: “I said we are not going to react to any convention, because it is not our business. We are not going to be on the defensive. They should react to our own.”
When asked when the Sheriff faction would organise its own convention, he said “when we want to have our own convention, we will call you.”
Adeniran urges delegates to vote for most credible candidate
Ahead Wednesday’s national convention of the PDP to elect its national officers in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, one of the aspirants to the post of the national chairman of the party, former Minister of Education, Professor Tunde Adeniran, has urged delegates to the convention to consider his unblemished record of public service and unbroken years of worthy service to the party in making their decision about the next national chairman of the party.
The former Ambassador to Germany said the party required a leader, who had no personal baggage to be able to function effectively in opposition and upstage the ruling party in the various elections leading to the 2019 general poll.
Professor Adeniran, who has received the endorsement of several party leaders across the six geo-political zones, said he was determined to tackle the major malaise within the party, which he identified as lack of internal democracy, disorientation and the ugly image acquired as a result of commission and omission on the part of the leadership.
In a statement issued by his media aide, Yemi Akinbode, Professor Adeniran reiterated his determination to “work towards forging unity among the various groups within the party, promising to utilise his requisite qualification to achieve a united front given the mutual respect he enjoyed across the membership of the party, including its current and past leaders.
“Our party has gone through various crises since the 2015 general election. For us to be able to challenge the party in power, we must have a leadership that will not be bogged down and distracted by issues unrelated to the party, which will not enable us put the government on its toes and win converts to our party.
“We are set again to make history and the posterity will judge whatever we do today, I believe in democratic ideals, where equal opportunity is given to everyone at all times.
“I, therefore, enjoin our delegates to shun any act that can put the unity of our party in jeopardy. We should vote for the most credible party and reject any consensus candidate,” he stated.
He called on delegates to choose wisely and put their trust in the most credible aspirant.