• You can’t change, APC replies main opposition party
• Agbaje, Olafeso urge new party leader to pacify Southwest
Newly-elected National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, has told President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) that they have until May 2019 to enjoy power at the centre.
Secondus, at the Eagle Square Abuja national convention, emerged leader of the opposition party that lost power in 2015 on the back of general discontentment and allegations of widespread corruption.
He said in his victory speech that a re-invigorated PDP would reclaim power from the ruling APC, which, the new PDP’s National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan, described as already “jittery.”
Secondus defeated other contestants, including former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran and Chairman, Daar Communications, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi at the PDP national convention held on Saturday in Abuja. His victory, however, angered a few party loyalists in the Southwest, who had insisted it was the turn of the region to produce the national chairman.
But the new chairman described the mandate given to him at the Abuja convention as “clear” and a directive “to return the party to power in 2019.”
According to him, the task has to be immediate, to save Nigeria from disintegration. “We are all witnesses to how the unity of this country has been shaken to its very foundation under the watch of the rudderless and clueless APC.
“We, therefore, have a gigantic task of retrieving this country from APC’s clear lack of direction and confusion starting with the Presidency,” he said.
Secondus said steps would be taken to avoid repeating previous mistakes, and promised internal democracy in the PDP under his leadership. “No more imposition, no more impunity. Every member of this party can from this moment, consider him or herself an equal shareholder in our common destiny,” he assured.
He urged Nigerians, who left the party to “come back home.”
Governorship candidate of the Lagos State PDP in the 2015 election, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, who staged a last-minute step-down in the race, enjoined those unhappy with the outcome of the convention to look for a way forward in the interest of the party.
“Whatever might have happened during the convention was not enough reason for anybody, region or group to pull out from the party,” Agbaje told The Guardian.
Agbaje explained that part of the factors that affected the party in the 2015 elections was the anger by the Southwest region that former President Goodluck Jonathan did very little for the zone in terms of appointments and building of infrastructure. Even in the 2015 elections that we lost to APC, the Southwest zone was able to garner 2.1 million votes for the PDP as against the 2.5 million votes that the ruling party had there. It is therefore a big catchment area for the party if it must win in 2019.”
Agbaje urged the new chairman of the PDP to begin the process of appeasing the zone by assuring it that something bigger would come to it, especially against the region’s frustration with the APC.
Deputy National Chairman, Southwest zone, Dr. Eddy Olafeso in line with Agabje’s position appealed to PDP members to act in unity. He said: “The fact that Secondus from the South South won places a strong challenge on the Southwest to put its house in order and operate in unity. The zone lost the election basically due to internal crises.”
Meanwhile, the APC, in a statement by its national Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, described the PDP as a party that is yet to turn a new leaf since it was tossed out of power in the 2015 poll. “A leopard cannot change its spot,” Abdullahi said.
He continued: “The abnormalities that trailed the PDP National Convention have further exposed the PDP as a party not ready and willing to change. Indeed, the PDP has once again displayed itself to the generality of Nigerians that it is a party with corruption deeply rooted in its DNA.
“Again, it is tragic that the PDP which used to pride itself as the biggest political party in Africa has now been reduced to a regional party. By frustrating South West chairmanship candidates, it is unfortunate that the PDP has decided to punish the South West for not voting for the party in 2015.
“We urge members of the PDP that can pass the integrity test to join the APC so that we can together bring about the much-needed change the country deserves.”