By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA—ChAIRMAN, National Caretaker Committee, NCC, of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, yesterday in Abuja, dismissed speculations that the party extended special concession to former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, to convince him to return to the party.
Makarfi made the clarification during the inauguration of the PDP Convention Planning Committee and sub- committees.
This came as indications emerged yesterday of fresh moves by the Forum of Northern Elders and Leaders to push for the emergence of a chairmanship aspirant of South- West extraction.
Makarfi said Atiku never asked for any concession from the National Caretaker Committee prior to his return to PDP.
“PDP did not extend any special concession to Atiku and the party will not extend any special concession to any other person. Atiku never asked; we conceded nothing to him and we never gave him anything,” he said.
He allayed the fears of party members on the possibility of imposing a presidential candidate on them in 2019, saying “party members reserve the right to give mandate to anyone they wish to give their mandate to.”
The PDP chairman expressed satisfaction with yesterday’s judgment of the Court of Appeal sitting in Ekiti which nullified the judgment of a High Court that would have affected the smooth conduct of Saturday elective convention.
He fingered a particular serving senator from the South West as the mastermind of some of the problems currently confronting the party.
Also speaking, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin, declared the readiness of the board to partner with the National Working Committee, Governors Forum and all other stakeholders in the party to ensure a smooth conduct of the convention.
On the insinuations making the rounds that some BoT members were sponsoring a particular chairmanship candidate, Senator Jubrin declared that the “BoT has no hidden agenda.”
Meanwhile, Chairman, Convention Planning Committee and Delta State governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has warned aspirants to the various positions of the party to keep their campaigners away from the Eagles Square, venue of the convention on Saturday.
“I Want to urge aspirants to the various positions to please keep their campaigners away from the convention venue and we believe all campaigns would have stopped by Friday.
“For those who want to campaign for future elections, especially the Presidential aspirants, this convention is not the place to display campaign posters or to display their intentions.
‘’I believe there will be an appropriate convention for that. I want to urge them to cooperate with us as a committee,” he pleaded.
Meanwhile, barely four days to the national convention of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; there are indications of fresh moves by the Forum of Northern Elders and Leaders to push for the emergence of a chairmanship aspirant of South- West extraction.
Following a week of political horse trading and alignments; the quest of the South-West to produce the party chairman received a boost when at a gathering of PDP northern politicians recently, a case was made for the only zone yet to produce the chairman to be supported by delegates from the north.
However, things took a dramatic turn when less than 24 hours after the purported endorsement, a youth group under the auspices of Northern Youths Politicians of Concerned PDP Like-Minds, dissociated itself from the stand of the elders, stating it was no business of the north to determine who emerged chairman since the position had been zoned to the South.
Similarly, PDP chairmen in the North aligned themselves with the youths, even as they argued that delegates should be allowed to determine the next chairman of the party.
Vanguard gathered that the elders and leaders, not prepared to give up on their mission, have been appealing to delegates as well as party leaders across the country on the need to support the South-West aspiration.
A source told Vanguard exclusively that the world press conference addressed by the Arewa PDP Pathfinders yesterday was the making of the elders, adding that in spite of the difficulty of the task, they had resolved to push on until the last minute.
He said: “The Northern elders and leaders in the PDP have not hidden their preference for the South-West as far as the chairman of the party is concerned.
‘’They believe that with the zone getting the chairmanship position, the party will be stronger going to the 2019 general elections.”
Asked of the fate of the party in the event of failure of the South-West to get the chairmanship position, the source said there was no doubt the PDP would be weakened, saying exodus of big shots out of the party should not been ruled out.
“People like Professor Jerry Gana, Senator Ibrahim Mantu and others are founding fathers of the PDP. They believe in this project and if they have warned of dire consequences of a compromised convention, especially in the election of the chairman, they should be listened to.
“Will some members leave the party because of this ( the South-West not getting the chairmanship)? I don’t know, but there is a possibility. When people are angry for the right reasons; anything is a possibility,’ he added.
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