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PDP’s Move To Reconcile Aggrieved Southwest Leaders
« on: December 19, 2017, 05:54:21 AM »
The Governor Seriake Dickson-led National Reconciliatory Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was set up to resolve the dispute over the emergence of Prince Uche Secondus as the National Chairman, has been criss-crossing the Southwest. LEKE SALAUDEEN examines the chances of the committee in tackling the post-convention crisis and the chances of the party in the Southwest in 2019.

THE major fallout at the just concluded Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national convention in Abuja was the displeasure expressed by chieftains of the party from the Southwest that the region has been robbed of the opportunity of producing the national chairmanship position, which went to Prince Uche Secondus from the Southsouth state of Rivers.

The process leading to the convention had been perceived by Southwest PDP leaders as an affront to the Yoruba race. They argued that Secondus should not have come into the race, because the chairmanship had been ‘micro-zoned’ to the Southwest. The aggrieved chieftains buttressed their argument that since the immediate past president came from Southsouth, the region should have waited for other government positions like Speaker of the House of Representatives, if the party manages to triumph in the 2019 elections.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State added salt to injury when he retorted that there was no micro zoning and that the Southwest which had not added political value to the party should not be put in top position. Expectedly, the response drew the ire of party chieftains in the Southwest. One of the national chairmanship aspirants, Chief Bode George, described Wike’s statement as the height of insult against the Yoruba race.

He said: “The Yoruba people have been openly maligned. The Yoruba have been savaged, tormented, treated with contempt, scurried, scoffed at, humiliated and denigrated by little men whose sun will soon set.”

To analysts, with Secodus’ victory, the Southwest has been tactically schemed out of the PDP’s hierarchical structure, thus reducing it to a regional party. They argued that aspirants from the Southwest were deliberately schemed out to give Southsouth undue advantage. One of such analysts, Prince Olakunle Ademoyewa, recalled that when former President Goodluck Jonathan was in office, no Yoruba man was considered qualified to occupy the 20 highest political offices like Senate President, Chief Justice of the Federation, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Speaker House of Representatives etc. He added: “The outcome of the convention is a signal of what is awaiting the Yoruba should the PDP regain power in 2019.”

Ademoyewa said the PDP risks being perceived as a regional party as the major offices are concentrated in two zones. He said the party that is dreaming to regain power in 2019 needs not start the struggle with issues like division and contempt for a particular ethnic group.

In order to placate George and other Southwest PDP leaders, the party has raised a reconciliation committee to assuage the feelings of the aggrieved members. Can the committee succeed in pacifying the region?

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State, Mr Ife Oyedele, said the frontline Yoruba aspirants for the PDP’s national chairman were deliberately schemed out, because of the role the Southwest played in 2019, which led to the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari. He advised the aspirants and their supporters to read the handwriting on the wall that there is no future for them in the PDP.

Oyedele said: “This should be a wake-up call for our people (the Yoruba) in the PDP to move to the winning party, the APC, where fairness, equity and democratic principles are followed to the letter, under the pragmatic leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. During the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the Yoruba were grossly marginalised. The Yoruba were simply left out in PDP’s skewed balancing act.

“The same political miscalculation, which cost the PDP the 2015 election, is playing out now in the party. This is an indication that it lacks the discipline and wherewithal to take over power in 2019. The party’s machinery is in the control of a section of the country and a few moneybags still bitter at the role the Southwest played in the defeat of Jonathan in 2015. Our people should not be cajoled by reconciliation moves which cannot reverse the injustice meted out to them.”

Lawyer and human right activist, Mr Monday Ubani, said the reconciliation move is an afterthought that will not yield any positive result. He said the PDP was not truthful to their zoning arrangement. Initially, the position of chairman was zoned to the South-west, but all of a sudden they changed the goal post, by saying the race is open to all zones in the South.

Ubani is very pessimistic about the result of the reconciliation. He said: “I don’t think PDP bigwigs in the Southwest will easily forget how they were schemed out by the power brokers at the convention. The Yorubas came out of the convention virtually with nothing. I don’t think they would be persuaded by the reconciliation overtures after denying them the chairmanship of the party.

“The convention has left the PDP more divided; it has weakened the party. There is no response from the Yoruba PDP leaders to the reconciliation move. The silence means a lot; it is either the aggrieved Yoruba PDP leaders have lost confidence in the PDP as a party or they perceive the reconciliation exercise as a mockery.

“Things are not normal with the PDP anymore. The northern PDP leaders have maintained silence since the end of the convention. Prior to the convention, the PDP leaders in the North had agreed that the position should go to the Southwest and they endorsed Prof. Tunde Adeniran for the job. But, the new power brokers from Southsouth changed that decision. It is not only the Southwest that felt hurt by the outcome of the convention; the North was also offended. How will the PDP get out of this self-inflicted problem is what I don’t know.”

Another civil right activist, Comrade Mashood Erubami, said the move for reconciliation would fail. He said: “Beyond the reconciliation and successful convention they are bragging about, most of them are under intense investigation for fraudulent conversion and acquisitions that are so overwhelming and many of them will not participate in the coming election, as they are likely to be convicted and jailed. Reformation of the PDP that is being used as the basis of their reunion is out of meaning and being misused.”

A youth activist and PDP member from the Southwest, Mr Iyiola Olalere, alleged that Governor Wike deployed a huge sum of money to buy over the delegates against the wish of the party and the northern leaders. He said; “They have murdered sleep and they will sleep no more. They have treated Southwest as inconsequential at the convention; Wike referred to us as a liability, saying that we did not contribute anything the party.

“But now they want to reconcile with us after they have de-robed us in the market square, they want to robe us inside the room. We shall let them know that in Yorubaland we have culture and value. The reconciliation move is medicine after death.

“We will not jump from one party to another; we shall remain in the PDP. Once beaten twice shy. This was how Jonathan’s six years in presidency relegated the Southwest to the background. The highest office the Yoruba got under the Jonathan’s administration was Chief of Staff to the President. Most Yoruba holding top positions in government ministries, departments and agencies were sacked. The outcome of the convention is an eye opener. We have learnt our lessons; we cannot be deceived by desperate politicians. We won’t stop them from coming to hold reconciliatory meeting with us, but we cannot be taken for granted.”

A PDP chieftain, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, disagreed with Olalere. Babatope said though he strongly disagreed with the outcome of the convention but ruled out the Southwest leaders leaving the party. He said: “We have contributed to the party immensely and helped hold the party together since its inception. We will not jump from one party to another. Those of us who believe in PDP will never compromise on our membership. “The controversy will not have adverse effect on the party’s performance in 2019, especially if a reconciliation mechanism is put in place to address genuine grievances. The PDP will not suffer in the Southwest, because of what happened.”

Babatope said Southwest PDP still see Wike, Secondus and others who denied the region the chairmanship slot as friends.

Ubani has ruled out the possibility of PDP winning elections in the Southwest in 2019.  He said with the gale of defections from the PDP to the APC, it will be very difficult for the opposition to stop the ruling party.  Former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, former Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin, and their supporters defected to APC in Ibadan at the weekend.

Ubani said the defections may not be unconnected to the fall out of the convention. “The result of the convention is taking its toll on the popularity of the party and its chances in future election in the region,” he added.

To Erubami, no reasonable Nigerians will support the enthronement of a party that will foist another clueless government on Nigeria again. For the PDP to have been ousted from power, its re-election will once again pave way for misuse of power, misappropriation of budget, diversion of fund allocations for power, education, health facilities and other infrastructural facilities with more money going from the public purse into private pockets, in fact, it will be a reinstatement of spiral corruption per excellence.

He said: “The current efforts of the APC in removing and reorganising some of its policies and replacing them by new and better others will make the PDP irrelevant and given that many of the PDP chieftains are not totally exorcised of corruption and with stronger anti-corruption strategies which will make the people its vanguard, the current efforts of the PDP to come back to power will be an effort in futility.”

Erubami explained that the faults being alarmed as weakness on the part of the APC is amenable to change and could be a source of strength to bring succour to the transient pains being currently experienced by Nigerians. He said: “Unpaid salaries are being reduced drastically except in very few states, exchange rate is falling positively, efforts are on for better employment of the youths and other engaged hands while power supply is becoming better stabilised in all locations of the country with local prices of commodities falling on daily basis.”

Ubani said: “No amount of reconciliation will assuage the feelings of the people of Southwest. Nigerians will prefer the APC to continue its rescue mission, rather than allow the PDP to come and destroy the new foundation being laid by the ruling party. It will be very difficult for the PDP to win election in 2019 because Nigerians have not forgotten the havoc it wreaked on the economy which had resulted in economic hardship that people are still battling with.”

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PDP’s Move To Reconcile Aggrieved Southwest Leaders
« on: December 19, 2017, 05:54:21 AM »

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