SOKOTO 2011: DPP VOWS TO UNSEAT WAMAKKO
The national convention of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) held at the Crest Hotel, Jos, Plateau State, was a watershed in the history of the party. It did not only provide the opportunity for the party to showcase its geographical spread which has gone beyond its initial base of Plateau and Sokoto states, but confirmed that it has gathered tremendous followership with the caliber of people present at the convention.
It equally showed that it has spread its tentacles to Imo and Anambra in South-East, Kano and Jigawa in North-West, as well as Kwara, Taraba Adamawa in North-Central and North East respectively. The convention provided the opportunity for members to take decisions on the role it would play in the forthcoming election.
It brought together retired Generals like the former FCT minister Jerry Useni, the National Chairman, Bashir Salihi Magashi, member of the Board of Trustees and former gubernatorial candidate in Kano State, as well as Jonathan Timlon and other political heavy-weights like Dr. Bala Takaya from Adamawa State and the Sokoto State gubernatorial candidate, Alhaji Muhammadu Dingyadi.
From Delta State was Great Ogboru, who was represented. He had fought former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan to a standstill with the Court of Appeal ordering for a rerun in that state. From the South East was Mr. Robert Opara, gubernatorial candidate of Imo State who is also the Publicity Secretary of the DPP and Chief G. Benson from Rivers State, South-South.
The chairman of the convention committee and Kwara State gubernatorial candidate in the last election, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo, said the party came to Jos to show that it has the courage to tread where older parties are afraid to go. He said the party has brought its convention to Plateau not only to show that peace has returned to the state, but also because it believes and has confidence in the unity and indivisibility of the Nigerian state; whether West, South, East or North, every part of Nigeria is a home to everybody. He commended the local organizing committees for making the convention a success.
Useni recalled that that the party was formed four years ago when some of them in the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) left in protest against internal dictatorship and formed the new party with a commitment that no one single individual or powerful few office holders would own the party. Since its formation, he continued, the party has waxed stronger with it being assessed as 'the fourth largest party in the country by the European Union 2007 Observers/ Monitoring Report and the 2007 election result.'
He said but for the massive electoral fraud during the election, the party would have been controlling four states, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kwara and Delta, and make positive showings in Zamfara, Plateau and Kano states.
He noted that despite all the war against the party, it was still able to win Assembly seats in Plateau and Sokoto states and it is in control of Langtang North Local Government council of Plateau State. He said the torturous path taken by candidates in states like Sokoto, Delta, Kwara, Plateau and Zamfara to get justice and in the end could only get justice for a rerun election in Delta. He prayed that the re-run would favour its candidate, Ogboru. The Sardauna of Plateau and Nasarawa states vowed that the party would continue to pursue the path of justice until it gets its mandate in Sokoto.
Towards making a better impact in the 2011 elections, he said the party has realized that political parties with similar objectives must cooperate if the desired change for progress must be achieved. To this end, the party had participated in talks about merging with another party or having bilateral relationship with parties like Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), but this is yet to yield any tangible result due to time constraint and other unresolved issues.
The party chairman suggested that in order not to create new bottlenecks, the party could retain its officials who are still found to be capable of running the affairs of the party successfully and just fill existing vacancies. He reminded the delegates that in the spirit of brotherhood which brought them to Jos, they should use the opportunity of the convention to deal with issues which have constitutional limitations while issues bordering on the nomination of presidential candidate be shelved until a later date in the New Year when a special convention would be held.
One of the major activities carried out at the convention was the amendment of the party's constitution. The Legal Adviser, Mr. Lanre Badmus, brought to the fore the need for the party to ratify the time for holding the yearly convention which was formerly pegged for every November. He suggested that it should be held on dates to be determined by the national caucus. He said state congresses should also not be restricted to November. He drew attention to methods to be used in electing candidates for the various posts and suggested that direct primaries should be used because according to him, it is less expensive.
The party also considered its relationship with other parties in the coming elections, Chief Richard Opara of Imo State moved a motion empowering National Executive Committee (NEC) to enter into political relationship with other political parties. He said having examined the exigencies of political reality and in realization of the need to continue to explore various means of realizing the set objective to reclaim the political mandate at all levels of government, NEC could enter into alliance, merger, understanding with any political party with similar aims, objectives and principles.
While adopting the motion, Magashi included an amendment that whatever relationship that would be agreed upon should be subject to approval of 2/3 of NEC members.
The convention ratified the list of officials to carry on the affairs of the party till 2011, while problems presented by members from the states were solved. Where solutions could not be immediately found, the problems were noted, with the promise that that the national officials would contact the states to provide solutions or words of encouragement. Olawepo said for now, no clause in the party's constitution that prevents the officials from contesting for a post.