Atiku Campaign Urges PDP To End Secrecy Surrounding Its Presidential Primary


SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 06, (THEWILL) – The Atiku Campaign organization has urged the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to announce the composition of the PDP Presidential Screening Committee and also name the members of the National Convention Committee and end the secrecy surrounding the announcements.

Senator (Dr.) Ben Obi, Director General, Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation during a press briefing in Abuja today said he has placed several calls to party chairman, Dr Okwesieze Nwodo to disclose the party’s plan to the campaign organisation saying: ‘the National Chairman kept telling me that he is still consulting and revert to me.’

Senator Obi warned that there are a number of troubling signals surrounding the conduct of the PDP Presidential Primary election which he said includes the non composition of members of the National Convention Committee, precisely one week to the conduct of the primary election which comes up on 13 January, 2011. He stressed that considering the size of the party, and the scope of work needed to be done to ensure a hitch-free primary, the party ought to have constituted the committee. Obi also lamented the non-composition of a Presidential Screening Committee five days to the event.

While lamenting the inaction of the party over the issues raised, the DG added that: “In spite of our unrelenting efforts and considerable pressure on the party leadership to convene a meeting between it and all the presidential campaign organisations, no date, to the best of our knowledge, has been chosen for this dialogue to take place. The implication of this is that one week to the presidential primary election, our Campaign Organisation is completely in the dark about issues and processes that affect us, and in which we have expended and are still expending enormous amount of time, energy and resources.

“Specifically, we are yet to receive any official communication from the party on the guidelines and ground rules that will govern the conduct of the primary election; about the time, location and method of screening delegates; the issuance of passes to accredited officials; the security arrangements for such a major political undertaking; a published list of all delegates who will participate in the voting exercise; voting method and procedures; counting and announcement of results; and a thousand and one other details that must be clearly set out weeks before the conduct of the election,” he said.

Continuing on the conduct of the state congresses of the party, he said: “The conduct of the primary election held so far in many States is extremely troubling. In many States, authentic delegates to the primary elections have been disenfranchised leading what appears to be an unfortunate disintegration of the party in the States concerned. We have credibly information that in Plateau, Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Ogun, Yobe, and a host of others, a significant membership of the party are either pulling out its fold or treating to do so. This unfortunate trend must not be allowed to be carried over to the special National Convention of the Party, for this we certainly have grave consequences for the contrive existence of the Party as we know it.

“I have also drawn the attention of the National Chairman to the unacceptable situation in some States were delegates were barred from meeting our aspirant on the directive of the governors. States such as Jigawa, Ebonyi, Abia, Kaduna and Sokoto readily come to mind. Even if a number of the governors are under intense pressure not to allow Atiku Abubakar to meet the delegates from their State, we condemn such undemocratic practice and call on the Leadership of the party to take a firm and decisive stand on this troubling issues failure to arrest this situation will be indicative that the presidential primary is on the verge of being manipulated,” Obi stated. Stating the Campaign organisation’s position on its complaints, Senator Obi said: “Preparations for the conduct of the PDP Presidential primary election appears to be going on in extreme secrecy, which makes the entire process suspect and places it under grave threat going by the omissions noted above. We owe it a duty to our teeming supporters, party delegates and the Nigerian public to alert them about this situation and the troubling circumstance surrounding the conduct of the primary election. After an exhaustive examination of the situation confronting us, and with due regard to our loyalty to our party and fidelity to the cause of Nigerian democracy, we wish to state our stand as follows:

“The meeting between the leadership of the party and the various Campaign Organisations should be convened as expeditiously as possible so that all matters relating to the conduct of the primary election are thrashed out and agreed upon as a binding arrangement between all the parties concerned. This meeting is a necessary condition towards the conduct of a free, fair, credible, transparent and acceptable primary election. “The list of delegates who will vote at the primary election must be published and widely advertised in the print media. This list is as crucial to the successful conduct of the primary election as the list of Nigerian Voters which the INEC must publish before the conduct of the general election.

“The primary election ground rules, some of which I have enumerated in a preceding section of this briefing, must be agreed upon by all the parties involved, and such an agreement shall not only be duly signed and made binding, but shall also be published and widely advertised in the print media. The agreement on the special convention ground rules will be one major way to ensure that the primary election process is objective, impartial, fair, just and not programmed to produce to a predetermined end,” he said. The Director general further restated the Campaigns commitment and loyalty to the PDP saying: “We wish to affirm our unwavering commitment and loyalty to our party and its noble objects and causes. We remain unflinching in our determination to help position it as the leading light of Nigerian democracy. Our plea to our party leaders is a simple, yet profound one: to ensure that a level playing field is constructed in matters relating to the conduct of its presidential primary election, and through that to also ensure that the exercise itself is free, fair and credible, and devoid of manipulation and the granting of undue advantage to one campaign organisation over others.

“Finally, if the well-thought out and sincere measures we want put in place are ignored and not put in place as quickly as possible, it will then become very obvious that an attempt is being made to manipulate the primary election process to favour a particular aspirant against the wishes of the generality of party members and delegates. We want to assure Nigerians that we will resist this attempt to manipulate the primary election to produce an unfair and unjust result with all the legal and political will we can muster,” he added.