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PDP National Convention: 33 Aspirants Slug It Out For NWC Posts

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THIRTY-three persons are gunning for top positions in the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the party prepares for its national convention at the end of this month.

Apart from the national chairman zoned to the North in which Professor Iyorchia Ayu from Benue State has already emerged as the consensus candidate of the zone, party stakeholders have been unable to reach common ground in other positions.

Contesting for the national deputy chairman (North), two top party members including Ambassador Umar Ilya Damagum from Yobe State and Hajiya Inna Ciroma from Borno State have presented themselves for the post.

Taofeek Arapaja from Oyo State has resigned from his post as the South-West zonal vice chairman of the party to contend with Professor Adewale Oladipo from Osun State for the office of the national deputy chairman (South).

The national secretary post zoned to the South-East has three party members battling for the position, including the current director-general of the PDP Governors Forum, Honourable Cyril Maduabum, and Chief Okey Muo-Aroh from Anambra State as well as Senator Samuel Anyanwu from Imo State.

The office of the national woman leader also has two aspirants including Professor Stella Effa-Attoe and Honourable Divine Amina Arong.

The office of the national youth leader similarly has two aspirants, including Muhammed Kadade Suleiman and Usman el-kudan.

Honourable Debo Ologunnagba from Lagos State and Dr Olafeso Eddy Eniola from Ondo State are fighting to be elected the new national spokesman of the party.

For the national auditor post, three persons, all from Anambra State, are also in the race, including Okechukwu Obiechina Daniel, Ikechukwu Samben Nwosu and Mrs Chibuogwu Benson-Oraelosi.

The screening of the 33 aspirants began at Legacy House in Abuja Wednesday with the chairman of the screening committee and former Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke, assuring that the committee would be fair to all.

Speaking at a press conference before the committee went into a closed door session, he described the process as crucial to the return to power of the PDP as it signals the process of electing credible Nigerians.

He said Nigerians have been waiting for this moment to have democrats of proven track records of service to the party and the nation emerge.

While noting that the screening process is the beginning of the collective effort to bestow efficient leadership on the country at all levels, he assured of a free, fair and transparent process.

The former minister said, “As you are well aware, the screening committee is charged with the responsibility of screening aspirants for national officers of the party for the national convention of our party.

“This assignment is crucial to the success of our party, as it signals the beginning of the process of electing credible Nigerians to steer the affairs of our party.

“The screening process for the election of the national officers of our party marks the beginning of our collective efforts to once more, bestow credible and effective leadership for the country at all levels. We cannot afford to fail.

“We are conscious of the expectation of members of our party, especially the aspirants to the various elective positions for a free, fair, credible and transparent process.

“We therefore assure you that we shall not only be guided by these ideals in the discharge of our duty, but also be meticulous in the observance of our party guidelines, the constitution of our great party and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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Adoke said despite the micro zoning of the offices done by the regions, anyone who had collected and returned nomination forms would be screened for the posts they applied for.

“Well, our work is to screen anybody appearing before us, so long as the person has obtained the form and it has been accepted will be screened in accordance with our guidelines,” he said in response to a question.

He also assured that the screening exercise would be completed in 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Arapaja has said his ambition to contest for the position of the national deputy chairman (South) is born out of the need to reposition the PDP.

As contained in a statement by his media aide, Ibrahim Bamitale, Arapaja added that he is spurred by the imperative of unifying and elevating the party to greater heights, just as he noted that his aspiration is driven by the need to return normalcy to the party and engender all inclusive, purposeful, visionary politics with human face.

The Nigerian Tribune had exclusively reported that the PDP governors from other zones had waded into the fresh crisis tearing the SouthWest chapter of the party over the allocation of national offices zoned to the area.

Part of the underlining reasons for the situation was said to be the intention of one of the influential leaders of the PDP in the zone to have representatives he could repose full confidence as members of the next National Executive Committee of the PDP.

According to the sources, there were issues over the allocation of the position of national deputy national chairman, national publicity secretary and deputy national secretary, with allegations that there were no due consultation with all the necessary chieftains by an influential stalwart that configured the micro-zoning.

The report added that there are moves to prevail on the vice chairman of PDP in the South-West, Honourable Arapaja, who was elected into office a few months ago, to resign and contest for the post of deputy national chairman, whereas some PDP stakeholders were not favourably disposed to the bid by a former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, on the ground of his perceived mutual relationship with two former Nigerian leaders: ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and General Ibrahim Babangida.

On another hand, supporters of a former national secretary of the party, Professor Wale Oladipo had said he would press on with his bid for the chairmanship at the convention, alleging a plot by some powerful forces to undermine the interest of other PDP critical stakeholders in the South-West.

Sources in the PDP had told the Nigerian Tribune that one of the chieftains in the zone singlehandedly allocated the positions based on his whims and caprices.

For instance, he was said to have offered the position of national publicity secretary to a former member of the House of Representatives from Lagos State, Honourable Rita Orji.

According to the sources, the offer was later changed to the post of deputy national secretary when she allegedly complained of lack of necessary experience to man the office of national publicity secretary.

Consequently, the said leader was said to have moved the position to Ondo State, with three PDP stalwarts already indicating their interest.

One of the contenders is the immediate past national vice chairman, PDP SouthWest, Chief Eddy Olafeso, who was said to have obtained nomination form for the contest.

Besides, some party buffs from the zone opposed the choice of Orji on the ground that though she plays her politics in Lagos State.

Orji hails from Imo State in the South-East, the zone allocated the position of national secretary. A former national officer of the party and member of PDP Board of Trustees (BOT) told the Nigerian Tribune last night that other governors might rally round Arapaja to become the substantive deputy national chairman.

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