PDP Convention: Profile of candidates seeking key positions

From left; Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa; Arc Darius Ishaku and Senator Ahmed Makarfi, at the Inauguration of PDP National Convention Organizing Committee, in Abuja. PIX . JIBUNOR SAMUEL

Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will elect new members of its National Working Committee (NWC) at a convention in Abuja.

The NWC, according to Part V111, Section 29 (1) of the party’s Constitution, consists of the national chairman, deputy national chairman (north and south), national secretary, deputy national secretary, national treasurer, national financial secretary, national organising secretary, and national publicity secretary.

Other officials  include national auditor, national legal adviser, national woman leader and the national youth leader.

The new leadership, which will be responsible for the day to day administration of the party, will have a tenure of four years.

Those angling for the position of chairman are a former Governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel; founder of AIT and Raypower, Raymond Dokpesi; a former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Bode George; a former Deputy National Chairman and Acting Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus; and a former Minister of Education, Tunde Adeniran.

Others are a former Governor of Oyo State, Rasheed Ladoja; a former governorship candidate of the party in Lagos State, Jimi Agbaje; a former Minister of Youth and Sports, Taofeek Adedoja and Segun Aderemi.

An earlier article by PREMIUM TIMES reviewed the chances of each chairmanship candidate.

Below are some of the candidates for other positions:

National Deputy Chairman (North)

Inna Ciroma: She is the wife of Adamu Ciroma, a former Minister of Finance. Mrs. Ciroma is herself a former Minister of Women Affairs and a former national woman leader of the PDP thus she is not new to party administration.

The Borno indigene recently resigned her position as the managing director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).

On her ambition, Mrs. Ciroma, 63, said she would work harmoniously with governors if given the mandate on Saturday.

She said, “We know we have problems in the party, we need to have people that will now look at the problems we had and see how we can change the way we do things and that is why I am aspiring to be the deputy national chairman of this party so that we can now reposition the party and take the party back to the people, take democracy seriously.”

If elected, she will certainly bring her wealth of experience to reposition the party. She is certain to use her connection to mobilise northerners for the PDP ahead of the 2019 polls. She is also believed to have secured the backing of some BoT members and the two PDP governors in the north.

Abdulmalik Mahmud: Mr. Mahmud is not new to party administration. He is the immediate past chairman of the caretaker committee of the PDP in Borno State. He was also at one time, the caretaker committee chairman of the party in Zamfara State.

Nuhu Koloma:
Not much is known about this aspirant. However, it is believed that he is a skilled administrator and mobiliser.

National Secretary (zoned to North West)

Nenadi Usman: Mrs. Usman, who hails from Kaduna State, is a former Minister of Finance and a former senator, representing Kaduna South senatorial district.

Mrs. Usman said her ambition is borne out of innermost conviction to serve the party in that capacity, adding “I come prepared academically qualified, I’ve served my home state as a teacher, grassroots mobiliser, youth mentor and commissioner, among others.”

The aspirant, who is the only woman gunning for the position, has already secured the nod of some party members under the auspices of PDP Progressive Forum for the position.

The group described her courage to vie for the position as commendable.

“We are therefore excited that she has finally bowed to public plea to contest the position of national secretary of our great party, the PDP, in the forthcoming national convention,” it said.

Mrs. Usman, undoubtedly, parades impressive credentials having been a minister and senator, to man the party’s secretariat.

However, the former minister is going into the race without home support. Only recently, the Kaduna State chapter of the party pledged to give their votes to Mrs. Usman’s opponent, Umar Tsauri, who interestingly is from Katsina State. Regardless, there are indications that some Christian members of the party are still backing her.

Another minus for Mrs. Usman is the corruption trial she is currently facing. The former minister is standing trial, alongside Femi Fani Kayode, over allegations of money laundering and criminal conspiracy.

They were arraigned by the EFCC on a 17-count change of money laundering and alleged diversion of N4.6 billion during the last general elections.

Umar Tsauri: He is a former senator from Katsina State. Mr. Tsauri is coming into the race with a huge public service experience.

He said, if elected, he would contribute his quota towards eliminating the challenges facing the party, including impunity and imposition of candidates.

“I feel that I come on board, I will make sure that PDP is brought in a balanced position just like before, and we will reclaim our mandate from the APC,” the senator added.

Apart from the granite support from his home state, his ambition has received a boost from the Kaduna State chapter which has pledged to give its votes to him. He is reportedly enjoying the support of other chapters of the party, comprising seven states.

“The Kaduna State chapter has resolved to give its 72 votes to Tsauri from Katsina, he is our sole candidate for the position of national secretary,” Felix Hyat, its chairman said while receiving the former senator in Kaduna early this month.

Mr. Hyat explained that they decided to do that because Mr. Tsauri had always supported Kaduna State at the national level.

He said the chapter had met with Mrs. Usman and another aspirant, Abubakar Mustapha requesting them to step down from the race because of the micro-zoning of the positions zoned to the North West. In the micro-zoning arrangement while Katsina is to produce the national secretary, Kebbi will produce the national woman leader and Jigawa the zonal national vice chairman.

Abubakar Mustapha: The 67-year-old technocrat from Makarfi in Kaduna State was the national organising secretary of the party until 2016.

One edge Mr. Mustapha has over the other contenders for the positon is that he has been in the party system for a while, having served as the party’s national organising officer.

As a result, he and his supporters believe he is the right man for the job.

As a sponsored publication recently said, “At a time that the people are disillusioned after the great error of 2015 presidential election and with the political development moving at a very great speed and the voting electorate becoming even more charged, despondent and desperate to make their democratic choice come 2019, the party needs focused, visionary, creative and professional party administrators with proven experience, foresight, integrity like Abubakar Mustapha.”

However, like Mrs. Usman, he does not enjoy home backing.

His state has pledged to vote for Mr. Tsauri. Mr. Mustapha has not let this lie low. He has repeatedly condemned the micro-zoning in the northwest zone and by extension the party.

“I want everybody to be allowed to go and test their popularity and that is democracy. Anything short of this will amount to circumventing what is proper and right,” he said.


Kola Ologbondiyan: Mr. Ologbondiyan hails from western senatorial district of Kogi State.

Until recently, 2015, he was the special adviser on media and publicity to former Senate President, David Mark.

A graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Lagos, he had worked previously with ThisDay newspaper where he rose through the ranks to become its group political editor, deputy editor of the daily title.

He had covered beats such as the Presidency, National Assembly, State Government Houses and political parties.
Going by this vast experiences, Mr. Ologbondiyan is considered the man for the job by many.

“I’m the most qualified and competent of all the candidates. So, I can tell that my chances are very bright,” he told PREMIUM TIMES by phone on Tuesday.

At another forum, Mr. Ologbondiyan promised that, if elected, he would use his experience to launder PDP’s image “at this critical time.”

“The party needs the best hands, it must assemble brilliant and tested professionals because the task is enormous,” he said.

“I am joining the race so as to repackage the party in line with the desire for new PDP. I believe that my journalism journey of 25 years, which cruised through news reporting to image and perception manager of the number three citizen for eight uninterrupted years has placed me in the best stead to manage and project the corporate image of the PDP.”

Reports say Mr. Ologbondiyan is receiving full backing from his erstwhile principal, David Mark, and the associates of the former senate president in the party. They are reportedly mobilising for him across the land.

However, the candidate would have to battle with equally outstanding contenders for the positon. In fact, the aspirant will have to share votes of the delegates from Kogi State with fellow journalists, Farouk Audu-Adejoh, and Usman Kabiru, both of who are from the eastern senatorial district of Kogi State.

Farouk Audu-Adejoh: As stated above, Mr. Audu-Adejoh is from the Igala ethnic group, the single largest ethnic group in the district as well as the state.

Mr. Adejoh had worked as a political correspondent of the Punch newspapers, covering sensitive beats such as the National Assembly and the Presidential Villa.

He later worked as the media aide to former Speaker Ghali Umar Na’Abba. During the administration of President Umaru Yar’Adua government, Mr. Adejoh was a media consultant to the Villa.

He was until April last year Chairman of Olamaboro local government area of Kogi State.

Mr. Adejoh believes he is the right man to speak for the party, not only because of his exploit in journalism and information management/public relations but also because of his long membership of the PDP.

“Of all the aspirants I’m the most qualified because of my track record as a journalist, media adviser and media consultant,” he told PREMIUM TIMES on phone on Wednesday.

“Besides, I believe that, in terms of the membership of the PDP, I am the oldest among the contenders for the position. I became a member of the PDP shortly after it was founded and so I know the party and its issues very well.”

On his plans, if elected, Mr. Adejoh said at another forum “It is time to tell our own story in the PDP, we shall define the narratives. With my election, this hostility created over the years by the ruling party will be changed completely.

“We have decided to change the narratives, harness all mass communication platforms available, use our human resource and create a structure that will determine the party’s image and sell it to the public.”

On Wednesday, the FCT chapter of the PDP adopted Mr. Adejoh as its candidate.

But the home front appears not to be certain yet as the Kogi chapter of the party has reportedly pledged their loyalty to one of the contenders, Usman Kabiru.

Usman Kabiru: He is the third contender for the position from Kogi State. Mr. Kabiru, a lawyer, is not new in the leadership cadre of the PDP.

He was its legal adviser in the north central zone and a member of the Ahmed Makarfi-led national caretaker committee where he also served in the same position. Having served in those positions, it is believed that he would bring experience to work for the party once more.

Mr. Kabiru, who hails from the eastern senatorial district of Kogi State, said if given the mandate, he would among other things foster strategic media partnerships with selected electronic; print and digital media organisations; create a funded and well-equipped PDP national headquarters social media group to promote active participation in collation and dissemination of information as well as enhance timely interaction between the party headquarters and members.

He also said he would initiate “The PDP Governor Speaks” TV interview series to feature and promote the development efforts of the governors and prominent political office holders; and unveil and inaugurate a “one month, two PDP states” social media tour.

This aspirant is reportedly enjoying the backing of the Kogi State PDP executive and the entire delegates from the state who, last month adopted him as their candidate for the position.

He is also said to be receiving the backing of two former governors of the state, Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada both of whom are his kinsmen.

Mr. Kabiru would however have to contend with the other two aspirants from the state.

Another major challenge for the aspirant is the allegation of misappropriation of Idris Wada Campaign fund in 2015 made against him by a group.

Ben Duntoye: Mr. Duntoye is a former Commissioner for Information and Communications in Kwara State.
He was also the Executive Director, Youth Development and Reformative Initiative and also a former delegate to the 2014 National Conference representing National Youth Organisation.

Going by those credentials, Mr. Duntoye is by no means a pushover. He has expressed hope that he would trounce his challengers to win the election.

Mr. Duntoye said if he emerged the spokesperson of Nigeria’s main opposition party, he would use his network built over the years to offer it excellence and professionalism.

He added, “For many who have been following events in the party, you will agree with me that the challenges before the PDP today are new, unprecedented and enormous, prime among which is to reinvent our party and reposition it to her glory.

“Invariably, the task will require a competent matured, rugged and courageous hand with a clear understanding of the challenges and as well, who has capacity and passion to develop commensurate strategies and actions in line with the core objectives of our party.

“In all humility, I am persuaded to say that I am suitably prepared and ready to serve in that capacity.”

Abubakar Suleiman: He is an indigene of Kwara State. Mr. Suleiman was Minister of National Planning in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. The former lecturer at the University of Abuja is currently the spokesperson of the PDP Forum of Ministers.

During his formal declaration to contest for the position, Mr. Suleiman, a professor, noted that the PDP deserved a mouthpiece that exudes great personality, a person well known by the media and the general public.
He also said the party’s spokesperson should be one whose activity has the capacity to command media attention and win the heart of Nigerians, a cerebral and a courageous and experienced person with good oratory skills. He said he represents all of these.

“To be lacking in these will mean to derail the party once more,” he said.

One edge which Mr. Suleiman, a professor commands over his challengers is the support from the PDP Forum of Ministers, many of who attended his declaration ceremony. He is also believed to be enjoying the support of Mr. Jonathan and some former governors.

However, a major drawback for Mr. Suleiman is the corruption case he is currently facing.

A former petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke allegedly shared $115 million with politicians and influential figures, including Mr. Suleiman during the 2015 general elections.

The money was said to have been shared among the politicians and some INEC officers in exchange for compromising the elections.

National Organising Secretary (Zoned to South East)

Austin Akobundu: He is a retired army colonel and a former Minister of State for Defence in the administration of President Jonathan. He had served as the national vice chairman of the PDP for South East.

Mr. Akobundu appears to be towering above his lone challenger because of the credentials he parades.

He speaks of his ambition, “From my pedigree, I am qualified, having been a national ex-officio, two time national vice chairman, Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and well tutored in party administration.

“I understand the workings of the party. The challenges of the party are clear to me. I know that I have the prerequisite to add value, as well as the experience to join with that of others in addressing the challenges of the party.”

It is speculated that Mr. Akobundu is enjoying the support of many top PDP faithful in the South-east zone.
But Mr. Akobundu has a challenger in another Abia indigene, Emeka Wachukwu.

Emeka Wachukwu: He is a security and communications consultant. Mr. Wachukwu is a strong contender though not much is known about him.

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