ABUJA- Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar ex- Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and former Jigawa state governor, Sule Lamido may have had a foretaste of what await them in their rumoured 2023 Presidential ambitions.
At the just concluded national elective convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Abuja; governors showed their might as they literally handpicked members of the next National Working Committee, NWC, and other national officers of the party.
Atiku, Saraki and Lamido, Vanguard gathered, did everything possible to drum support for Olagunsoye Oyinlola who vied for the office of the deputy national chairman (South) against Taofeek Arapaja.
Arapaja, a former deputy governor of Oyo state, rode on the support of the PDP governors to the convention, as entreaties made to Oyinlola to stepped down failed.
Two hours before balloting, Atiku, Saraki and Lamido shrugged off their big men status as they made their way to state pavilions housing delegates, to woo support for Oyinlola. The move, according to findings, was aimed at neutralizing the influence of the governors who have since hijacked the party following the ouster of former chairman, Prince Uche Secondus. But, it turned out an exercise in futility as Arapaja polled a total of 2,004 votes to beat Oyinlola who barely garnered 705 votes.
A member of the outgoing NWC told Vanguard in confidence that with the feat, governors have announced themselves as the undisputed owners of the party.
“Atiku and Saraki should realize that their time is over. If they want to pursue their 2023 ambitions, the governors would have a big say. What it means is that without the support of the governors, you can’t win a big position in the PDP of today. This is the message I think everyone took home from this convention,” he said.
Like in 2017 when her bid to become the PDP deputy national chairman (North) failed, former Women Affairs Minister, Maryam Ina Ciroma again failed to realize her ambition as she lost to Ambassador Umar Iliya Damagum.
13 governors elected on the platform of the PDP, Vanguard learnt, had pleaded with Ciroma to shelve her ambition to give room to the emergence of Damagum as consensus candidate.
After entreaties to her failed, Ciroma headed for the convention with confidence but the governors made their influence count as Damagum polled 2, 222 votes to emerge deputy national chairman (North) while Ciroma garnered a paltry 365 votes.
One striking feature of the voting pattern of delegates was that they all voted uniformly for the consensus candidates handpicked by either the governors or their associates.
Thus, the likes of Senator Samuel Anyanwu, Debo Ologunagba, Stella Effah-Attoe and Kamaldeen Ajibade emerged national secretary, national publicity secretary, national woman leader and national legal adviser respectively after polling 3,426 votes each at the convention.
The story was the same for unopposed Umar Bature, Okechukwu Daniel, Daniel Woyegikuro,
and Mohammed suleiman, as they became members of the NWC after polling 3,426 votes each to emerge national organizing secretary, national auditor, national financial secretary and national youth leader of the party respectively.
Like in 2017, the PDP governors compiled names of their preferred candidates, all of whom emerged victorious at the convention.
Meanwhile, national chairman-elect of the PDP, Senator Iyorchia Ayu has taunted the All Progressives Congress, APC, for what he called their inability to conduct successful state congresses let alone a national elective convention.
In his remarks shortly after he was pronounced elected chairman of the party by Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, Ayu took the APC to the cleaners, blaming it for the sundry challenges facing the country.
“I believe the other party can never hold a convention because even in states, they cannot hold congresses. They have produced 92 state chairmen for 36 states, how can they hold a successful convention which the PDP has done? We are waiting for them. This is a challenge to them. This is a quit notice for them. PDP is back and is taking back the country to develop it.
“I want to sincerely appreciate the PDP family. Today is simply a thank you address. When we started this party 23 years ago, we never in any way imagined that the journey will get us to this stage, a stage where we ruled for 16 years.
“We went into rough times, but for anybody who bother to see, PDP is back to rescue Nigeria from the terrible mess we have been in in the last six years.
“I want to appreciate all of you who have taken time as delegates, observers, supporters, and members of the media as well as security services who have made this event such a wonderful event.
“Many people imagined that this convention will lead to the break up of the PDP. Those who dream like that are dreaming in wonderland. Their dream was misplaced.
“Those who have lost hope should know that Nigeria is not a divided country. A small group of people decided to divide Nigeria. PDP will come back, unite our people, put them together, North and South, East and West.
“We will move ahead to develop this country. We did it before, we are going to do it again. I want to thank the governors. I want to thank the delegates. I want to thank our supporters and every single person who has made this event such a huge success,” he said.