With 2,000 votes garnered at the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention, Prince Uche Secondus, was declared National Chairman of the party. He beat his closest rival, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, who polled 230 votes, while Chief Raymond Dokpesi, another contender, scored 66 votes. The convention was held at the Eagle Square, Abuja, on December 9.
The result of the election was declared in the early hours of Sunday.
However, Adeniran and Dokpesi have rejected the outcome of the party’s national convention and the process that led to the emergence of key officers.
The candidates announced their positions in separate interviews with newsmen at the Eagle Square venue of the convention on Saturday in Abuja.
PUNCH newspaper reported that Secondus received strong backing of the 11 governors elected on the platform of the party, as they stood in solidarity with him throughout the exercise.
Governors of Rivers and Ekiti States, Messrs Nyesom Wike and Ayodele Fayose, actively mobilised support openly for the new party chair.
As of the time of filing this report at 12:10am, Secondus and Wike were still at the Eagle Square as the votes of the elections were being sorted and counted by members of the electoral committee.
The unflinching support by the governors was said to have boosted Secondus’ chance in the North where Adeniran had initial support.
A member of the party from the North said that “the northern caucus apart from Prof. Jerry Gana and Senator Ibrahim Mantu decided to support Secondus because he was the toast of the governors and the majority members of the party.”
Secondus told one of our correspondents that if declared winner, he would work with all those that contested against him.
Those who contested against him but lost were Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, Prof. Tunde Adeniran and Prof. Taoheed Adedoja.
Other contestants, apart from Chief Olabode George, announced their withdrawal from the race shortly before the commencement of the exercise, the newspaper added.
George said on Friday at a press briefing that he was withdrawing due to the refusal of the party to micro-zone the office of the national chairman to the South-West.
The party had zoned the office to the entire southern part of the country, while it also ceded the presidential ticket to the northern region.
However, while there were seven aspirants from the South-West Zone, only two showed interest from the South-South.
Others from the South-West included Senator Rashidi Ladoja, Chief Gbenga Daniel, Mr. Jimi Agbaje and Aderemi Olusegun.
All the aspirants except Ladoja, Dokpesi and Secondus eventually contested the election.
Ladoja told one of our correspondents that he was still consulting and would speak on the outcome of the convention soon.
“I’m consulting and will speak soon. We need to study its outcome before making any pronouncements,” he said.
Secondus, in an exclusive interview with one of our correspondents in the early hours of Sunday at Eagle Square, said that the love of the party remains paramount in his heart.
He said, “It is the party first. We have no other reason to remain contestants without the PDP. Our interest is in the party and the desire to wrest power from the ruling All Progressives Congress. That should be our goal.
“None of us can do it alone. It is in our interest to come together and fight for Nigerians. All the contestants are capable of leading the party. I want to appeal to every member of the party to come together and be united. I’m appealing to all and sundry, we should all remain united and be committed.”
Meanwhile, there was a mild drama at the Eagle Square when Dokpesi abandoned his Edo State stand and walked to Rivers State stand to sit with Secondus as the results of the election were being awaited.
Dokpesi, founder of Daar Communications, said he rejected the outcome of the elections following alleged distribution of a “so-called unity list” to delegates, describing it as a charade that may destroy the party.
He said that the process of voting had been rigged following the distribution of the list, which contained names of candidates believed to have won elections into various positions in the party at the convention.
He explained that the 21 names of candidates contained in the list appeared on the ballot papers as number one and in the voting boots as number one.
Dokpesi said that complaints were lodged to the Chairman of the Convention Electoral Committee, Mr Gabriel Suswam, who confirmed that he had seen the list with some delegates but that he was overwhelmed.
He said it was unfortunate that a party which was just getting out of a major leadership crisis would be involved in acts of impunity and election malpractice.
He called on the party leadership to urgently rectify the anomaly before it became another major challenge in the party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Similarly, Taiwo Akeju, Director, Media and Publicity of the Adeniran Campaign Organisation, called for the cancellation of the entire exercise.
He accused Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers and his Ekiti counterpart, Ayodele Fayose, of being the masterminds of the unity list distributed to the delegates.
“We reject the entire electoral process. The election has been grossly compromised to achieve a predetermined end.
“The illegal unity list is prepared by governors Wike and Fayose to foist on the entire delegates” he said.
Akeju, however, called on the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the party to takeover the affairs of the party until proper election would be conducted since the National Caretaker Committee has been dissolved.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the rejection of the unity list by the frontline chairmanship candidates was done before the final collation of the elections results.
Fayose Urges Losers to Accept Defeat in Good Faith
The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has asked those who contested the PDP national chairmanship seat but lost to Secondus, to accept defeat in good faith.
Fayose also said he had no regret, canvassing support for aspirants on the list.
He insisted that some people kicked against the list because they did not win the election.
He said, “Anyone who will contest the result of this election at the court of law is an enemy of the party. It is not good to be a bad loser. If you did not win, just take it in good faith and support the winner”
PDP Disqualifies Adeyanju, Sheriff’s Man, from Contesting
A former National Auditor of the Peoples Democratic Party, Fatai Adeyanju said on Saturday that he was disqualified from running for the office of the national treasurer of the party.
Adeyanju was also prevented from accessing the Eagle Square, venue of the party’s national convention.
He was disqualified from the race because of his alleged inability to present his tax clearance.
Adeyanju, who was a close ally of a former National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, remained outside the venue, hours into the exercise.
He later told journalists that the committee set up by the party for the convention deliberately screened him out.
He alleged that Governor Fayose was responsible for the treatment meted out to him.
He said, “The party’s screening committee rejected my tax clearance certificate even though the document remained valid until December 2017.
“The party also said that I didn’t have a voter card, but I tendered my valid voter card before the committee.
“You can see the original copy of my valid tax certificate and my voter card. All efforts to make the screening committee see reason proved abortive.”
Apart from being close to Sheriff, Adeyanju and the then National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo, were allies of Senator Buruji Kashamu.
Both Sheriff and Kashamu are considered as enemies of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led national caretaker committee.
When there are divisions in the leadership, people follow different groups or individuals. But when the crisis gets resolved, we should all be allowed to join the winning group without victimisation,” Adeyanju said.
He promised to go to court to seek redress after the convention.
*Additional report culled from NAN and PUNCH newspaper