By Chibuzo Ukaibe, Abuja
National chairmanship aspirants of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday vowed not to defect from the party, with their supporters, if any of them loses.
The aspirants, who also promised to abide by the outcome of the convention however gave a caveat that the convention must be free, fair and transparent in accordance with the constitution of the party.
They also agreed that any aspirant, who breaches party’s 2015 zero policy on expenditure which prohibits inducement including lodging of delegates and providing money for votes, should be disqualified on or before the convention date.
The aspirants agreed to this while appending their signatures to a peace accord, titled, “National Chairmanship Aspirants Accord On Prevention of Violence And Acceptance of Election Result At The Elective National Convention”, ahead of the December 9 national convention of the party, holding in Abuja.
The national chairmanship contenders, present at the meeting were media mogul, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi; former governorship candidate of the party in Lagos State, Jimi Agbaje; former governor of Oyo State, Rashidi Ladoja; former deputy national chairman, Uche Secondus; former minister of Education, Prof Tunde Adeniran; former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
Former minister of Youths and Sports, Prof Taoheed Adedoja, who was absent at the ceremony due to flight delay however arrived the party’s national headquarters and signed the peace accord.
However former deputy national chairman of PDP, Chief Bode George, who had asked to be excused from the meeting while at another meeting in Enugu State, will sign on Wednesday.
Those present signed the peace accord in the presence of the national leadership of the party under the watch of Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
According to the content of the peace accord, the aspirants agreed to “Support whoever emerges amongst us as the national chairman of our great party as long as the process is transparent, free and fair in accordance with the provisions of the constitution of the party and guidelines of the elective national convention.
“No aspirant shall leave the party or encourage his or her supporters, promoters etc to do so, as a result of the outcome of the National Chairmanship Election at the elective National Convention;
“Any breach of the 2015 zero expenditure policy of the party, which prohibits the use of monetary inducement including lodging of delegates and providing money for votes, shall not be tolerated in the 2017 National Elective Convention and shall be a ground for disqualification on or before the 9th December, 2017;
“Any aspirant/sponsor/supporter/financier, proven to have done anything contrary to the agreements reached herein and in circumstances that suggest the knowledge of the undersigned persons shall be disqualified from contesting the National Chairmanship election.
“Solemnly abide by and uphold the tenets of this National Chairmanship Election according to which we hereby voluntarily subscribe.”
They also vowed to be civil in the campaign and agreed to do away with hate statements, pronouncements, declarations, threats or “speeches that have capacity to incite any form of violence, before, during and after the national convention of the party.”
Speaking earlier, the national chairman of the party, Sen Ahmed Makarfi, who noted that the accord was the brain child of the aspirants, assured that none of them will be excluded from contesting the chairmanship election.
He said, “We didn’t suggest anything to you. You met and showed it to us and all we did was thank you for your statesmanship. Even PDP has not done this before, not to talk of other parties that are undemocratic.
“We are not afraid of holding caucus meetings or convention. It is like food to us. It is a sign of greatness and good things to come. Despite the disagreements we have the meeting.”
He further dispelled insinuations that party stakeholders had at a recent meeting in Enugu State planned to impose a chairman for the party.
He said, “When we went to Enugu some we’re under the impression that we would force a candidate on the party which was wrong”. He added that they are more interested in ensuring that the convention is free, fair and transparent and that they all come out as one family.
He said the governors were not aware that they had gone far in preparations, noting “They were pleasantly surprised that we had gone far with the process.”
Speaking on behalf of the aspirants, former governor of Oyo State, Rashidi Ladoja, said it was usual to fight for elective position in the party.
“It is also an aberration to leave when you lose. Didn’t join to be chairman but to further the interest of the party. This ceremony has already been planted in their minds.
“We will try to put our supporters under control so that we don overheat the polity. We will try to contribute our quota to the party during and after the convention.
“This convention will go smoothly. We are still talking. Let me assure you Dec 9 will be a joyous convention.”
He said all the aspirants are interested in democracy and to give Nigeria an alternative platform, stressing “We all joined politics to see a Nigeria that works.”
He added, “The convention will not make anybody leave the party. We all ask for a transparent convention and everybody must see that it is done according to the rules. The caretaker committee should ensure that transparency is done.
It should ensure that those in the convention committee adhere also to the transparency rules that you have set. We are all committed to the party and we will give you maximum support.”