After a failed attempt by the suspended National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, to stop the national convention of the party, 3,600 delegates will converge on Abuja, on 30 and 31 October, to elect new leaders for the country’s leading opposition.
The convention was initially enveloped in uncertainty until the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, on Friday, dismissed the suit filed by Mr Secondus challenging his suspension and seeking to stop the event.
About 21 positions in the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party will be contested for by at least 27 candidates at the convention.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported the full list of those cleared by the screening committee chaired by former Attorney General of the federation, Mohammed Adoke, to contest for the positions.
However, most of the candidates will be elected unopposed following successful negotiations by the National Convention Organising Committee led by Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State as well as other leaders of the party to get a consensus candidate for each position.
The North, to which the position of the national chairman was zoned, had picked Iyorchia Ayu, a former senate president, as its consensus candidate.
Mr Fintiri said only three positions, namely deputy national chairman (South), national auditor and national youth leader, are yet to have consensus candidates as of Friday.
The battle for the position of the deputy national chairman (South) is between a former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and a former deputy governor of Osun State, Taofeek Arapaja, who is currently the PDP’ South-west deputy chairman.
Mr Fintiri confirmed that the screening committee disqualified some aspirants; Wale Oladipo (Osun) who expressed interest in the office of deputy national chairman, and Eddy Olafeso for national publicity secretary position and Akintan Oludaisi for the office of national deputy secretary, for filing suits against the party.
Okey Muo-Aroh (SAN) who showed interest in the office of national secretary was disqualified because he is not from Imo State to which the position was micro-zoned but from Anambra State.
PREMIUM TIMES will be at Eagle Square, Abuja to bring you live updates of the convention.
At exactly 1:05pm, the PDP declared the National Convention open with a stanza from Nigeria’s National Anthem.
The Executive Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, and the Kano State PDP Chairman, Shehu Wada, said the Christian and Muslim prayers, respectively.
“We prayed to you Lord to give us a second chance as you did in 2019,” Mr Ortom said as the party officially launched into the day’s event.
PREMIUM TIMES can report that delegates from the 36 member states and the FCT are fully seated except those from Ogun, Ondo among others largely from the southwest zone.
The Governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Fintiri, who doubles as the Chairman of the 2021 PDP National Convention Organising Committee, in his 19 minutes speech, praised the diplomacy of the his team.
He said the country has never had things this bad until the emergece of the current APC administration. He stressed the need for the PDP to return to power come 2023.
Mr Fintiri chronicled the journey of the party thus far as he ascribed its growth to all past chairmen and stakeholders, excluding the embattled Uche Secondus.
Against the figure of the Organising Committee of the convention, the chairman of the convention said a total of 3,600 delegates are expected to partticipate in the election of 21 NWC members.
His speech was followed by the brief address of the interim National Chairman, Yemi Akinwonmo, who also criticised the ruling APC. He subsequently declared the election open.
The PDP is set to commence the election of its 21 NWC members for the next four years.
The phase is the crux of the day’s activities, though results of the election may not be made available until 9 when they will take over the administration of the party.. The chairman of the Convention Committee, Ahmadu Fintiri, confirmed this earlier in his address. He said the reason is to allow the current NWC members complete their four-year tenure, which began on December 9, 2017
Supporters of the candidates have been instructed to vacate the premises while delegates were told to take their seats at their allotted space within the Eagle Square.
The electoral officials have also taken their respective positions at the centre of theEagle Square venue as at 4:45pm.
Delegates will cast their votes in alphabetical order.
Abia State delegates have been called upon to come forward to exercise their franchise.
Adamawa State is to follow.
Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnanya Abaribe, speaking on behalf of PDP caucus of the National Assembly, said “Today, millions are following the proceedings of the convention because they are anxiously waiting for the outcome. They want to go away from the cold-blooded and arrogant looting of the treasury of the APC. Today, we have seen in the last six years the suppression of our citizens, extra-judicial killings and injustice by the ruling party. This clueless government is doing nothing as bandits take over our highways.”
On the economy, Mr Abaribe, who represents Abia South, said, “They have pillaged our economy. They have utterly destroyed the economy. Millions are denied the opportunity of fruitful ventures, when they speak up, they are brutalised.”
Former Benue governor, Gabriel Suswam, who is currently a senator, is invited to move the motion to adopt the congress.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, is addressing the convention. He said, “The country is going through the most difficult time ever, I am 70 years, and I have never seen this type of hardship, insecurity and disunity before in Nigeria. We have a chance to right the country and unite the country, a chance to ship our country to its rightful place among the comity of nations. The PDP is not perfect, none of us is perfect. The APC has shown itself to be ill-equipped and corrupt. The unity of PDP is an extension of the unity of Nigeria. We must develop a country that shuns ethnicity, and focus on merits and the right policy framework ”
Delegates from Abia State and Adamawa State are currently voting. The states are arranged based on alphabetical order.
Delegates from Akwa Ibom and Anambra States are currently voting. The process So fhas been orderly.
So far, delegates Abia, Anambra, Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River and Ekiti delegates have voted.
Currently, delegates from Jigawa and Kaduna are voting. There was a short break after delegates from Ekiti voted.
Sule Lamido, the former Governor of Jigawa State led the delegates from his state.
The crowd at the venue is getting reduced as most delegates are leaving after voting
Kano delegates, led by Ex-Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, are about to vote.
Supporters of likely presidential candidates appear to be trying to sell the popularity of their principal.
Supporters, wearing the symbolic red cap of the Kwankwasiyya Movement are chanting “Sai Kwakwanso.”
When delegates from Jigawa State voted, it was the same thing, as supporters chanted “Sai Lamido.”
The same thing happened when delegates from Adamawa, Atiku Abubakar’s home state, voted.
Kwara and Lagos States delegates are currently exercising their franchise while delegates from both Nasarawa and Niger States have been told to get ready.
According to the announcer, 58 delegates from Nasarawa are expected to participate in the exercise while 76 delegates from Niger will cast their votes at the same time.
There is an ongoing drama between Osun and Oyo States delegstes over deputy national chairmanship (south) position
The former governorship candidate in Osun Stste in the 2018 election, Ademola Adeleke is leading support for Mr Oyinlola, while Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo is leading the supporters of Mr Arapaja.
Coincidentally, the delegates of the two states are seated in pavilions beside each other due to the alphabetical arrangement of the states.
Delegates of both States are singing offensive songs and hauling insults at each other.
Messrs Oyinlola and Arapaja are running for the position of national deputy chairman (south).
Ogun State and Ondo States delegates are about to vote.
Osun and Oyo States delegates have been invites to cast their votes.
Osun, which is fielding its former governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola for the seat of the Deputy National Chairman (South), has 93 delegates.
The 130 accredited delegates will also be casting their votes along side its counterpart.
Taofeek Arapaja, who is a former deputy governor of Oyo State, has the backing of the incumbent governor of state and the Secretary of the National Convention Committee, Seyi Makinde, will be slugging it out with Mr Oyinlola.
Mr Makinde will be leading the Oyo delegates to the poll after 83 and 55 delegates from Ogun and Ondo State, respectively are through casting their votes.
Osun and Oyo States delegates are currently voting.
The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, is currently leading the 130 accredited delegates to the voting cubicles to exercise their franchise.
The state has 137 delegates but only 130 were accredited.
The 65 delegates from Plateau State are also on the queue leading to the voting point to cast their votes.
A former Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Taofeek Arapaja, has emerged winner of the election into the office of the Deputy national chairman (South) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Mr Arapaja, an ally of Governor Seyi Makinde, garnered 2,004 votes to defeat his only opponent, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, a former governor of Osun State, who got 705 votes.
There was wild jubilation at the Eagle Square venue of the PDP Convention in the early hours of Sunday when the result of the election was announced.
A total of 165 votes were declared invalid.
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