…PDP is Back, Says Okowa
By JAMES EZEMA, STELLA UKWUOMA & IKWO UBANA
Nigeria’s major opposition party, which still prides itself as the largest political party in Africa, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has held its national convention in Abuja, the country’s federal capital territory amid fanfare.
Though it was not an elective convention, various support groups seized the opportunity to sell their preferred aspirants ahead of 2019 general election.
Over three thousands of delegates, drawn from the 36 states of the federation in the country’s six geo-political zones on Saturday stormed the Eagles Square, the venue of the event.
The Chairman of the PDP National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, former Jigawa governor, Sule Lamido as well as other party chieftains, were also present at the venue.
Others at the convention are international observers from the United Nations and the Africa Union among other international bodies.
The non-elective convention was the first since the Supreme Court judgement, which affirmed Senator Makarfi as the authentic chairman of the party.
Party men and women, who gathered at the event, saw the convention as a rebirth and a unity gathering of one PDP family.
The Chairman of the Convention Committee and Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, in his message at the Convention described the opportunity the event offered him to serve as “noble call to service”, which according to him was “humbling and uplifting, as well as tasking and rewarding at this time”.
Governor Okowa, who thanked members of the planning committee for their sacrifices and hard work, said the prayers of all Nigerians who are desirous for the PDP to get its act together for strong opposition role were answered by the Supreme Court.
He noted that that their losses in 2015 election both at federal and state levels have helped the party members to understand themselves better, identify their mistakes, suffer the painful consequences of defeat and learn the lesson of a lifetime.
“The wilderness experience has refined us, sharpened us and made us stronger. Like the saying goes, “sometimes you have to go through the wilderness before you get to the Promised Land”.
“The second advantage of our wilderness experience is that Nigerians have had the opportunity of experiencing another party govern at the national level. They can now compare and contrast.
“As leaders, we must read the times and take responsibility. We must condition our heart for a new beginning. We must root out the past mistakes and model the right attitude”, he stated.
While calling on all PDP faithful to return to the fold, he noted that it was time to forgive and to heal the wounds of the past, adding that “obviously, we have set the tone and sent a clear message that our party , PDP is back, strengthened, reformed and refocused to win all elections in partnership with Nigerians.”
The PDP National Caretaker Committee had on Friday extended the olive branch to its ousted national chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Dayo Adeyeye, said this was because the policy of ‘no victor, no vanquished’ had been implemented by the committee.
Meanwhile, on August 10, the PDP said it had waded in the crisis rocking its members in the South-West region of the country.
The delegates went ahead to approved through a voice vote four motions, including the extension of the tenure of office of the National Caretaker Committee headed by former governor of Kaduna state, Ahmed Makarfi by four months.
The committee was put in place by the party’s national convention held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in 2016.
The committee was recently validated by the Supreme Court after former chairman, Ali Sheriff, had insisted and gotten the nod of the Court of Appeal to remain as chairman voiding the decision that brought Mr. Makarfi committee to office.
The convention also approved the setting up of state leadership of the party in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
While speaking at the convention, former President Goodluck Jonathan urged the party members not to be intimidated as the party has done well during the period it was in power at the centre.
According to him, despite that Nigeria experience national disaster in 2012, with flooding destroying several farm lands, Nigerian never went hungry and hid government went into dry season farming, while it released grains from the national reserve at the time to ensure that the prices of food stuffs were not affected.
He therefore maintained that Nigerians will not suffer under the leadership of the party as the party is mature to govern.