The South East caucus of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) yesterday adopted Prince Uche Secondus as its candidate for chairmanship of the party in today’s National Convention of the opposition party.
This emerged yesterday as all the nine persons seeking to be elected as national chairman of the PDP have refused to step down for one another and are insisting on using the election as the only means of resolving their political differences.
The position of the aspirants became very obvious on Thursday, as they took turns to collect their certificates of clearance from the Patrick Okowa-led convention planning committee at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja, after having been cleared by the screening committee.
Also, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said that he had no preferred candidate in today’s election.
Addressing journalists yesterday at the party’s national secretariat, Chairman of the screening committee, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, lauded the conduct of the chairmanship hopefuls, stating that with their clearance, the party was hopeful of a credible, competitive convention devoid of rancour.
Candidates cleared to contest the party’s national chairmanship position include Prince Uche Secondus, Professors Tunde Adeniran and Taoheed Adedoja.
Others are Chief Olabode George, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Chief Jimi Agbaje and Aderemi Olusegun.
Okowa who reiterated the readiness of his committee to conduct a credible and transparent convention, assured that adequate steps have been taken to secure the Eagles Square, venue of the convention.
Okowa said: “We are very much aware of the security alert about Abuja. The security committee is working very closely with the relevant security agencies to ensure a smooth convention.”
He added that the security sub-committee is “working very closely with the police and relevant security agencies,” to ensure a smooth exercise.
On his part, Chairman, Post-Convention Planning Committee and Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, tasked all aspirants to demonstrate the spirit of sportsmanship before, during and after the contest, adding that only one of them is fated to win the election.
He thanked Okowa for his works so far describing him and the convention planning committee as “people we have confidence in.”
Governor Dickson also urged the aspirants to be at liberty to approach his committee to seek clarification on any issue pertaining to the convention.
Briefing journalists later yesterday, one of the aspirants, Raymond Dokpesi, said he was ready for the election. He dismissed speculations that he had withdrawn from the race, expressing optimism that the convention would be hitch- free.
Also yesterday and after a closed door meeting held in a hotel in Abuja, members of the South East Caucus of the PDP passed a confidence vote on Secondus, declaring him as the only one they had resolved to vote for in today’s election.
PDP national vice chairman in the South East zone, Austin Umahi, told journalists that party leaders in the zone had decided to support Secondus in his bid to become the next national chairman.
The meeting was attended by Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi; Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara; and other members of the National Assembly from the zone.
The communiqué they read to journalists after the meeting states: “In our meeting today, December 8, we the stakeholders of the PDP south east geo-political zone, having examined all the people vying for the national chairmanship position of our party, PDP, we wish to commend highly all the aspirants especially on how they have conducted themselves during their campaigns, being fully aware that this is an internal party affair.”
It continued: “We are very conscious of the personality of who becomes the national chairman of our great party for the next four years. Based on the foregoing, we have unanimously in our today’s stakeholders meeting here in Abuja, decided that we would back an aspirant that has character and content. In this circumstance, and without prejudice to the right of other aspirants to this national chairmanship position, credible and transparent election, we have decided to back and vote for Prince Uche Secondus for the position of national chairman of our great party.”
The South East PDP stakeholders also said they have agreed to vote for Col. Austin Akobundu for National Organising Secretary; Hon Ude Okoye for Youth Leader; and Alphonsos Gerald as Deputy Financial Secretary.
In a statement issued by his media office yesterday, Atiku Abubakar said he does not support any particular candidate over others, but rather supports the emergence of a more virile political party post-Peoples Democratic Party national convention.
The former Vice President said that as an advocate of internal democracy in a political party system, he believes all the aspirants for respective elective positions in the PDP National Executive Council (NEC) are eminently qualified.
He noted that the challenge before the delegates of the party is to vote according to their conscience.