2011: PDP UNDER PRESSURE, PLANS MASS DISQUALIFICATION OF ASPIRANTS
Okwesilieze Nwodo, PDP National Chairman
A twin assault on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from presidential aspirants and others who have less than immaculate past records have unwittingly placed it on the siege. To ward off the unrelenting pressure, which could make it inchoate and create an enabling environment for implosion, the party is at its wits ends to stamp its authority and take full charge of affairs, Daily Sun learnt at the weekend.
To this end, the party has affirmed its disposition to play the father figure to all, and yet wield the big stick on errant aspirants, regardless of their stature in the party and society.
This stance followed accusation of bias by the party from a former military ruler and presidential aspirant.
The General had recently said the party harboured a hidden measure that would aid the realization of the presidential dreams of the incumbent.
A top party source told Daily Sun that the allegation was a fallout of the aspirant's unsuccessful bid to hoodwink it through several uncanny ways in the last six weeks.
'All of them have invited us to explain their mission and seek for our co-operation and understanding of their dreams.
'We honoured all of them and pledged to do our best to guarantee fairness and be the father to all. 'There is nothing in our utterances and policies that suggest a skewing towards a particular aspirant. Yet, this man woke up and made the allegation, which I know he cannot prove,' said the source.
The source explained that but for the political experience and maturity of the party chairman, the General would have succeeded in hijacking the party.
While absolving President Goodluck Jonathan of undue interference in the affairs of the party, the National Working Committee (NWC), had to be hurriedly convened to re-examine the issues and re-instil confidence in the party, as it approaches its primaries.
The NWC is also looking at threats of withdrawal from the race by a presidential aspirant citing non-provision of a level playing field.
The source said: 'Thank God, the President understands the game. The President called us and told us to always do the right thing. Our last National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting coincided with IBB's declaration and we had to hurriedly shift it. The guidelines are very clear, and no one is favoured.'
National Youth Leader of the party, Mr. Muyiwa Collins, however, said the allegation was not new and unexpected:
'It is normal and we are in no way netted by it. All the aspirants will go to the field and the best among them will win.'
He disclosed that a mass disqualification of aspirants was in the offing, stressing that it will cut across all levels of aspiration. He said the party took the tough stance to reduce court litigations, which may erupt if a blanket waiver or clearance was given.
He identified those who would fall under the party's hammer as those who have criminal charges pending either in a Nigerian court or abroad; those with clear evidence of tax evasion, those with petitions against them on fraud of any kind advance fee fraud (419), theft, corruption, and abuse of office etc:
'When we do our homework well, INEC would not be saddled with elementary issues of disqualification. And we will not have our candidates who win elections be thrown out at the slightest excuse. That is our joker.'
He said the party was on top of the recurring issue of governors hijacking the party at the state levels. According to him, the party guidelines are clear and comprehensible.
All stakeholders in the party including governors will abide by the guidelines and stave-off crises that may crop up if things were not done properly, he affirmed, while acknowledging that there was a raging desperation by all aspirants at all levels to snatch the party structures.
To douse the flames of the inferno, the party has dispatched respected chieftains to the states to intervene and seek co-operation and amity amongst the contestants.
Last week, former chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, Chief Tony Anenih engaged in trouble-shooting in at least three states in the South-South, and South-East.
The Atiku Campaign Organisation (ACO), however, contended that the trouble-shooting was a mere subterfuge to advance Jonathan's presidential aspiration. Media Director, Garba Shehu, said it was not impressed by the manouevres and antics, adding that the ploy will fail arising from costly blunders.
He said it was not a coincidence that in the South-West geo-political zone for instance, 'the person co-ordinating local government bosses is a member of the Patriotic Front (PF) of the late Shehu Yar'Adua and has worked with Atiku for long. How does that play out?,' he querried.
While accusing the presidency of meddlesomeness in the consensus arrangement by Northern presidential aspirants, the organisation said it had advanced the frontiers of bridges with other blocs across the nation.
On suggestions that a dark horse may emerge in the consensus plan to confront Jonathan, the organisation said such contemplation was unimaginable as whoever gets the nod of the committee must have satisfied it on high networth profile and consistency in Northern agenda which the envisaged dark horse would not have.