Chairmanship: PDP In Dilemma Over Aspirants On Trial

Filed in News by on November 11, 2017

Ahead of the December 9 National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), some key leaders of the party met yesterday to weigh the options on four chairmanship aspirants who have cases with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The leaders, which include some ex-governors, members of the Board of Trustees, ex-ministers, and state chairmen, were concerned that any national chairman with corruption case pending before a court or the anti-graft agency could be distracted from providing vibrant leadership.

They were considering whether or not to prevail on delegates to go for “candidates without investigative issues.”

They resolved last night to prevail on PDP leaders, governors and delegates to go for a “less controversial figure” like the All Progressives Congress (APC) did when it voted for Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

The aspirants with challenges are ex-Governor Gbenga Daniel; High Chief Raymond Dokpesi; Sen. Rashidi Ladoja and Prince Uche Secondus.

Two of the aspirants are presently on trial for alleged stealing of public funds, bribery, fraudulent conversion of public property and false declaration of assets; another was arraigned in connection with $2 billion arms cash from the Office of the National security Adviser while one is still under probe for allegedly receiving 23 choice vehicles from a business associate of ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

A top source at the session, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “The party has a dilemma at hand. Four of our good aspirants who can lead the party are having corruption-related cases in court or with EFCC.

“As a matter of fact, three of them have been arraigned in court. The fourth leader was detained by EFCC over how oil receipts were diverted to the purchase of 23 vehicles for him.

“A business associate of ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who operates a private upstream oil and gas company, confirmed that the accruable revenue was used to buy the said vehicles.

“The fraud was uncovered in the course of going through the Strategic Alliance Agreements (SAAs) with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).

“We met to weigh the options because all these cases will certainly divert the attention of any of them from the core duties of coordinating the party.

“Some of the aspirants dismissed the corruption allegations as non-issues but the party will not be happy to see its chairman either going to jail or remanded in prison.

“We felt in politics, we must put all factors into consideration. But the aspirants are determined to take the risk because they have not been convicted.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “Our leaders are of the opinion that the reputation of the party is greater than that of any party leader or aspirant.

“The alternative is to go for any underdog with less issue. He who comes to equity must do so with clean hands. This is the time for frank talks. It is left for our governors and other organs of the party to buy into this option or not. We know that APC is waiting in the wing for our option.”

Meanwhile, one of the aspirants, Prince Uche Secondus (who is a former Deputy National Chairman) yesterday said nobody was out to impose him as the national chairman of PDP.

Secondus made the clarifications in a statement through Taiye Garrick from his campaign organisation.

He said rather than wait for any group endorsements, he has been “campaigning day and night across the six zones, selling our redemption messages to PDP delegates.”

The statement said: “Our attention has been drawn to news reports alleging clandestine moves by some powerful forces to impose Prince Uche Secondus as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party.

“We want to categorically declare that there is no iota of truth in the reports. Our candidacy depends on endorsement and votes of delegates at the forthcoming national convention.

“We want Nigerians and members of the party to note that the position of National Chairman was zoned to the Southern region comprising of three zones. Prince Secondus has every legitimate and legal rights to aspire for the office of National Chairman.

“We also want to put on records that since launching his ambition, Prince Secondus has been reaching out to delegates across the 36 states, seeking their votes and presenting his agenda for revival of the party ahead of 2019.

“Throughout this period, no member of Board of Trustees has openly endorsed him as they have done for some other candidates.

“No state governor has openly endorsed him so far even though some aspirants claimed support of some governors. Where then is the plot to impose Secondus?

“Just recently, some members of Board of Trustees openly endorsed some aspirants. The Secondus Campaign Organisation did not raise any eyebrow.”

Secondus said he has not been banking on endorsements.

The statement added: “Rather than wait for any group endorsements, we have been campaigning day and night across the six zones, selling our redemption messages to PDP delegates.

“We urge all aspirants to get ready for the National Convention and stop game of distractions.

“The delegates assembled will cast their votes for an aspirant of their choice in the full glare of the public. Nobody can impose any aspirant in a free and fair contest.

“We also want to affirm that Prince Secondus remains the most qualified for the chairmanship going by his antecedents before and after the crisis that nearly killed the party.

“He is bold and pushful alongside with his great blueprint to return the PDP to power in 2019.

“The forthcoming convention is our great opportunity to complete the redemption started at the Port Harcourt mini convention.

“We must elect real committed party members into the upcoming National Working Committee.

“In this clarion call, we urge delegates to support Prince Secondus, the man of undiluted loyalty, unflinching determination for PDP revival and unparalleled qualification for PDP leadership.”


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