By NBF News
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After weeks of sustained suspense , the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday ratified the nomination of its former National Secretary, Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo as the new National Chairman.

The former national chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, resigned from the position after he was charged with corruption by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

Nwodo had earlier been nominated by the PDP caucus at its meeting held at the Presidential Villa with President Goodluck Jonathan, Chairman of the PDP, Board of Trustees, (BOT) and former President, chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Senate President David Mark, in attendance.

The announcement of Nwodo as chairman, was delayed to ensure compliance with the party's constitution, which stipulates that a new entrant to the PDP , can only seek party office, provided he was given a waiver. Before his formal announcement yesterday, the Enugu State chapter of the party had given Nwodo a waiver while the South-East zone of the party also endorsed it and sent same to the PDP's National Working Committee (NWC), in accordance with the party's constitution. The new National Chairman returned to the party last year, after a two-year romance with the Action Congress (AC).

Speaking at the national secretariat , venue of the event yesterday, President Jonathan called on the leadership of the party to ensure that internal democracy was restored in the PDP, to ensure amity.

The President cautioned against imposition of aspirants in the party.

'I want to plead with the party that especially as the elections are coming, one of the areas we normally have problems is the issue of internal democracy. That this time around, as a party and a nation, we had to do things in a way that would not bring problems for us. So, in all the areas that we used to have irritations, we should avoid it and work together and see that the next candidates we present for all levels of election from the least , the councillorship to the highest, the presidency, should be candidates selected by the people.

The party had to set up a machinery to make sure that we resolve at least most of these crises before the elections. I have mentioned severally that on my own part and on the part of the government, we will make sure that the votes of Nigerians count for the final election.' The President also admonished PDP members to work as a team, submitting that lack of team spirit was what cost the party victory in Anambra State.

'Let us acknowledge the fact that one of us must always emerge as candidate to fly the party's flag in a contest. In Anambra, PDP had the votes, but APGA won the election. If we aggregate the votes of PDP members who defected to other parties, we had the votes,' Jonathan observed. Speaking after his ratification, Dr Nwodo assured party leaders at the gathering that the days of imposition were over in PDP.

'Our process of choosing our candidates must once again be subjected to the dictates of our party's constitution and the extant rules… we must return the choice of our candidates to the people and not to individual godfathers and godmothers. It is only by this time honoured democratic process that we can present to the Nigerian people for elective offices, quality candidates that are imbued with the patriotic vision of our party.

'The days of imposition of candidates by the PDP, hoping to hoist such leaders on the people of Nigeria through rigged elections are over and over forever. Our members aspiring to carry our banner in future elections must start now to market themselves and canvass their programmes aggressively to our party members and to the Nigerian electorate'', Nwodo submitted.

The new chairman also lamented that over the years PDP had squandered its goodwill.

'We rode to power on the massive support and enormous goodwill of the Nigerian people. Over the years, we have squandered it to the point that even some of our members are no longer proud to be identified as PDP members and other Nigerians say that the problem of Nigeria is the PDP,'' Nwodo noted.