PDP leaders commence conciliatory moves to pacify S/West members
Ex-President Jonathan arriving the venue of the PDP convention with Gov. Dickson of Bayelsa State
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders have began initiate moves to douse the feelings of exclusion from the South West members over the outcome of last weekend’s elective convention of the party.
Sources close to the party indicate that the elders and the new leadership of PDP are considering options on how to compensate the zone, following protest from its leaders.
The zone failed to realise its bid to produce the national chairman for the first time since the party was formed in 1998 as a result of the opposition from the party’s governors.
It was learnt that the PDP governors hijacked the party’s structure to protect their interest in the 2019 presidential plans of the party, secure second term tickets for eight of them due for second term and for the remaining three to be able to anoint their successors.
Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan has already reached out to aggrieved PDP members in a bid to rally support for the newNational Chairman Prince Uche Secondus.
He visited former Minister for National Planning Prof. Abubakar Olanrewaju Suleiman, who lost the post of National Publicity Secretary to the Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan, a member of the Unity List.
The former President appealed to the PDP leaders and members to give the Secondus team “benefit of the doubt”.
Jonathan arrived at the ex-minister’s home in Abuja at about 1.10pm and left after a 50-minute stay.
Those on his entourage included a former Minister of Special Duties Mallam Tanimu Turaki and some party leaders.
Jonathan pleaded with Suleiman and other leaders of the party, who felt offended by the results of the elective convention, to forgive and forget.
He said: “We should give the new executives of PDP some benefit of the doubt and see how things work out. If we fail to support them, we are not helping the party.”
He told Suleiman: “I thank you for your doggedness and passion for PDP
“You did well and members of our party know you are the best among the competitors. Put the events of Saturday night behind you and move on. Accept the outcome of the election as the wish of God.
“You should not allow yourself to be stampeded into any untoward action. I know better things await you. We cannot afford to lose you.”
Suleiman, who praised the ex-President for his solidarity visit, said nobody or group could intimidate others out of PDP.
He said: “I thank you for your compassionate posture. You are a consummate leader worthy of emulation. Your visit has inspired me more on my commitment to PDP.
“I promise, I will take to your advice. The party is ours and nobody or group of people cannot intimidate us out of the party. I thank you and other members of your entourage for the confidence reposed in me.”
Secondus has also initiated fence mending with PDP leaders in the Southwest, with his meeting yesterday with a former Deputy National Chairman, Chief Olabode George, in Abuja.
Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson was also mandated to hold talks with defeated chairmanship aspirant Prof. Tunde Adeniran.
Top leaders of the party, especially the founding fathers, were disturbed by the outcome of the convention which appeared to have sidelined the Southwest in the scheme of things.
This is more when considered that the number of registered voters in Lagos alone is about 5.8 million, which is more than the figures of South entire South put together.
It was learnt that while the leaders of PDP might have come to terms with the reality of the emergence of Secondus, they said the party must assuage the “genuine feelings of the Southwest.”.
According to party sources, the PDP options for the Southwest are as follows: engagement and reconciliation; inclusion of more Southwest leaders in party’s key decisions; likelihood of appointment of Senate President or Secretary to the Government of the Federation from the zone, if PDP wins the next presidential race; and juicy appointments after 2019 poll
A member of the Board of Trustees, who spoke in confidence, said: “The PDP chairman on Monday held a reconciliatory meeting with Chief George. We are hopeful that the healing process will yield fruits.”
National Publicity Secretary Ologbodiyan said: “There are efforts to begin a proper reconciliation in the Southwest and with some of our leaders. We believe it is not in the interest of all of us to allow the party to be killed.”
The governors it was learnt took over the party structure because they have been funding it all along with their huge resources. So, they believe ‘he who pays the piper dictates the tune’.
“Some of the governors were emphatic that they cannot entrust their future in the hands of some candidates from the Southwest, who might succumb to pressure from the bigwigs in PDP at any critical moment. They rated Secondus as a very strong character.
“A few others claimed that they were being patriotic by backing Secondus, who can restructure, reunite and make the party stronger to win more states than what the old generation of PDP leaders have turned into