As PDP Convention Approaches, S/W Roots For George | Independent Newspapers Limited
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As PDP Convention Approaches, S/W Roots For George

Posted: Aug 3, 2016 at 4:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


 The secretariat of Lagos State People’s Democratic Party (PDP) along Adekunle Fajuyi came alive on Monday when both leaders and members of the party from the six states in the south-west gathered to witness the declaration of Chief Bode George, former deputy national chairman of the party to contest the position of national chairman of the party.  The leaders used the opportunity to extoll the virtue of George and his contribution to the growth of the party right from its inception in 1998, and the need for him to be supported for the exalted position of number one person in the party hierarchy.

 Extolling George’s virtue

  Moshood Salavador, state chairman of the party, set the ball rolling when in his welcome address informed the party faithful at the secretariat that among those indicating interest to contest only George has made contribution to the growth of the party like him. He recounted how the former military governor of old Ondo State worked very hard in 2003 and rescued five out of six states in south-west from the control of Alliance for Democracy (AD) ,which won the six governorship elections in 1999 general elections.  For Salvador, it was indeed time to chronicle the achievement of the man popularly regarded as leader of the party in the zone. From being the 9th governor of Ondo State between July 1988 to September 1990, George rose to become the director general of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua campaign organisation in 2007 after serving as vice-chairman of the party in south/west and deputy national chairman in 2005. He said,  “PDP needs and experienced leader who is consistent with the party’s policies and programmes.”

 Judging by his track records both as a retired naval officer and party leader, the PDP chairman urged delegates at the forth coming national convention of the party holding in Port Harcourt or any part of the country to vote for George popularly known as Atona Odua of Yoruba land. Salvador who hinged the ability of the party to win the 2019 general elections on its ability to conduct a rancour free national convention, urged the governors from the three geo-political zones of the south to support the ambition of George. 

 Chief Ebenezer Babatope, a member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) described George whom he knew first in 1967 at University of Lagos as loyal leader whose long years of experience would salvage the PDP. He assured the people that with George, PDP would take over the leadership of the country from the mal-administration of the present All Progressives Congress( APC ),which has no clue on how best to tackle the present economic situation in the country.  He said, “We are coming back to power, don’t be deceived by all the nuisance we hear every day.” 

    In her solidarity speech, Senator  Koforowola Bucknor-Akerele, former deputy governor of Lagos State and the only woman that spoke at the occasion, caught the attention of the audience when she said that she had never been on the same page with George until 2014 when they decided to mend their differences for the progress of the party in Lagos State. She said, “Many would be surprised to see me promoting Bode George because I belong to a political group called Union that opposed George, until we were able to reconcile at the last National Conference.” 

Bucknor-Akerele who took time to lambast the ruling APC for its inability to make any positive change, as promised the people, described George as a dogged fighter who has the temerity and clout to rescue the party and give it victory at the forthcoming general elections.  She advised those who had indicated interest to vie for the position of national chairman to step down for George “because they don’t have the qualification that would match his own.”

 Why he wants the Chairmanship

 While making his intention to contest for the position known, George declared that the party has made a lot of mistakes which he believes he could competently address.    “Today, our effectiveness as the opposition party is being rendered inconsequential and virtually of no value, as we engage ourselves in a very destructive mutual consumption.”

 He stressed: “Our party needs a rescue. Our party needs redemption. Our party deserves a balanced, experienced, tested, trusted and faithful hand. Our party needs a team player and a unifying leadership. Our party needs stability.

 “Here and now, I am humbly making a stand and a declaration as an aspirant for the position of the office of the national chairman of our party, with a vision to serve as a bridge builder, as a peace-maker and as a healer of the broken places.

 “I cannot do it alone. Nobody can. I cannot resolve all the issues or reconcile all the differences alone. But I promise to work with our leaders to find a common ground and negotiate a healthy compromise to achieve a common purpose of a strong, prosperous, equitable, democratic and a victorious organisation.

 “I cannot pretend that I have all the answers. But I am prepared and willing to work with all strata of our party to ensure that the dreams and the visions of our founding fathers are fully restored once again.”

  Fayose’s past opposition

  As George intensifies his consultation and campaign for the exalted position, what is not clear is whether, Ayo Fayose, governor of Ekiti State has changed his earlier position on the matter. Only recently, when the rumour of George’s interest to contest the position of national chairman, first broke out, Fayose vowed not to support George in his aspiration. Fayose had noted that members of the PDP were tired of old men running the party as they were responsible for its fall from power in 2015.

  “I have a lot of respected for Chief Bode George, he is our leader, we will continue to respect him, but when it comes to the nitty gritty, where is the interest? You must find out the underlining factors.

 “Chief Bode George told me personally that he wants to be national chairman of the party, I told him no I won’t support him.

 “With all due respect to the elderly people in this party, they must take the backstage. People are tired of seeing the same old faces again.

 “I have been hearing Ahmadu Alli since 1976 when we sang ‘Alli must go’ in secondary school. Chief Bode George has been governor of Ondo State almost 40 years ago. They are our leaders and we love them but they should take the backstage.

 Fayose has also disagreed with the notion that the southwest had been divided over the zoning, dismissing the meeting reportedly held to discuss the zone’s seeming disapproval. He argued that the absence of PDP’s southwest governors at the meeting showed that it did not represent the opinion of the southwest.

 “Chief Bode George was the convener of that meeting. Most people that came to that meeting did not know what they were coming for. We are in very peculiar times when we need to address issues differently,” he warned. He blamed the PDP founding fathers for the party’s loss in 2015. “The grandfathers of PDP lost it in 2015, it’s (now) a new beginning, and they should pocket those stories.”

Leaders of the party from south-west at the party secretariat were unanimous in their submission that it is the turn of the south-west to produce the position of the national chairman for the first time. They contend that the south-east which has not  shown any interest for the plum position had  produced the national chairman of the party for two or more times. Though south-south is yet to produce a substantive national chairman of the party, former President Goodluck Jonathan elected on the platform of the party who left office last year is from the zone. Also Godswill Akpabio who comes from the zone now occupies the second largest office of the party as senate minority leader. The south-west leaders want both south-south and south-east to support the aspiration of George for the party’s chairmanship.


PDP new zoning arrangement

 The Dave Umahi zoning committee recently announced the zoning of party positions  ahead of the national convention slated for Wednesday, August 17 with the position of national chairman to the south and national secretary to the north. Observers described the committee’s job as not complete. They stressed that the committee would take a step further by zoning the offices along the existing six geo-political zones, as was the practice in the past.   The 21 existing party offices were zoned to both north and south of the country. While the north got 10 slots, the south had 11.

 The positions zoned to the North were: Deputy National Chairman (2), National Secretary, National Financial Secretary, National Publicity Secretary, National Auditor and National Woman Leader.

 Others were: Deputy National Treasurer, Deputy National Organising Secretary, Deputy National Youth Leader, Deputy National Legal Adviser and Deputy National Secretary.  The South got the positions of National Chairman, Deputy National Chairman( 1), National Treasurer, National Legal Adviser, National Youth Leader and National Organising Secretary.  Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Deputy National Woman Leader, Deputy National Auditor and Deputy National Financial Secretary, were also zoned to the South.

 But Dave Umahi, governor of Ebonyi State explained why the party decided to make a paradigm shift from what used to be the practice by throwing all the positions between north and south. For him the committee “ desired a paradigm shift from the unsatisfactory practices within the party operations and that all positions should be keenly contested for among the major zones they are zoned to in order to open the space and allow for full participation of members.

  “That the chairmanship of the party be zoned to the southern zones bearing in mind that the presidential ticket of the party for 2019 was zoned to the northern zone as approved by the national convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Saturday, May 21, 2016”.

However whether Chief George would emerge as the new PDP chairman and unite the party would be determined in the  coming days.

Augustine Adah