Uche Secondus has won as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the major opposition party in Nigeria after he defeated three other aspirants with more than 2000 votes.
Secondus was said to be solidly backed by Nyesom Wike, Rivers state Governor and Senator Godswill Akpabio, Senate Minority Leader.
His close contender, Prof. Tunde Adeniran polled 230 votes, Raymond Dokpesi scored 66 votes while Taoheed Adedoja nil vote.
Meanwhile, Umar Ibrahim has won as National Secretary of the party with 1549 votes to beat Abubakar Mustapha who scored 371 votes and Nenadi Usman who got 287 votes.
Also, Senator Gamawa Babawo Garba has been announced as the winner for Deputy National Chairman (North) 1316 votes to beat six other contenders.
Five aspirants who earlier withdrew from the Chairmanship race include: Bode George, Jimi Agbaje, Gbenga Daniel, Rasheed Ladoja and Remi Olusegun.
Raymond Dokpesi and Prof. Tunde Adeniran who earlier walked out of the convention ground have rejected the results and called for its cancellation following the series of allegations of bribery of delegates and irregularities. They described the process as unfair.
They stated that delegates were given a list of candidates to support and that the organizers of the convention had become helpless.
More than 3,000 delegates of the Peoples Democratic Party are voting for national officers during the party’s ongoing national convention at the Eagle Square, Abuja, today.
The delegates — elected and statutory— are expected to vote to fill the positions of the national chairman and several other national offices.
The party was under the supervision of different interim national executives since May 2015 when Adamu Mu’azu resigned as part of the fallout from the 2015 election woes.
Mr. Mu’azu, a former governor of Bauchi State, was confirmed as the party’s national chairman in January 2014.
Nine people were cleared to run in the race for the chairmanship, but some of them have started standing down since last night, amidst controversy over the party’s internal arrangements.
Taoheed Adedoja, Tunde Adeniran, Raymond Dokpesi, Jimi Agbaje, Gbenga Daniel, Olabode George, Uche Secondus, Rasheed Ladoja and Segun Aderemi spent the last few weeks traveling the country to canvass support.
The PDP reserved the chairmanship for the south after resolving to let the presidential ticket go to the north.
All delegates and other accredited officials are conveyed to the venue in specially arranged buses from various pick up points in the city.
Delegates voted for 21 national positions.
Earlier, Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta state Governor and Chairman of Convention Planning Committee, in his speech, had assured of a credible convention.
He also asked for cooperation from all delegates and expressed the determination of the committee to “deliver the best elective process”.
He also said some aspirants from various positions have withdrawn from the race.
Ahmed Makarfi, Party caretaker chairman, paid a tribute to the founding fathers of the PDP, and called for a one-minute of silence in honour of one of the founding fathers of the party, former Vice president Alex Ekwueme.
He said after 2015, there is need for introspect to make amends and know how to move forward,
and thanked the party for appointing him to lead the caretaker committee.
Mr. Makarfi noted that the end of litigation does not mean end of challenges for the PDP.
“We took difficult decisions with a better PDP in mind. We have laid a good foundation for the rebirth of the PDP. Hence those who left are either coming back or knocking on our doors.
“Our doors remain wide open for both returnees and new members,” he says.
“In words and action we must continue to reassure members that loyalty to the party pays. Our women have been blazing the trail in several endeavors.
“Youth must be factored in everything because sooner or later they will be taking over. They should be prepared for the task ahead by exposing them to leadership and its vagaries.
“Part of it is to ensure that they receive quality education. Party should amend its constitution to make provision for students’ bursary loans.”
Mr. Makarfi said PDP has refused to play the kind of opposition APC played before 2015 because “we love the country”.
“We are proud to bequeath a legacy of responsible opposition. We must continue to show that opposition is not madness. We continue to remind the government that Nigerians are hungry.
“Insecurity in the north east is coming back. So is kidnapping and other criminalities. Government must up its game.
Ben Obi, the National Secretary of the caretaker committee, Ben Obi, presented the State of the Party address.
On the amendment of the constitution of the PDP, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa moved the motion for the amendment of the preamble of the constitution to reflect contemporary realities.
Section 8 is to be amended to change the procedure for rejoining the party by members who left and want to return.
Section 50 is to be amended to relax the minimum time requirements before members can seek for election to offices of the party.
Section 29 is to be amended to make the six national vice chairmen members of the NEC of the PDP constitution.
Section 41 (1) is amended to strengthen the powers of the national auditor.
Section 31(1) d is amended to give chairman and BOT members voting rights in NEC.
Section 32 which deals with composition and membership of BOT is to be amended.
All amendments should take effect on January 1, 2018.
The Chairman of BoT, Walid Jibrin, in a remark said PDP is on the move again.
“We are ready to take over power in 2019,” he says.
“After 16 years in power, we lost an election and we showed the whole world how we can move to a seamless transition to opposition.
“The BoT congratulates all contestants to all positions.
“I welcome back Atiku Abubakar back home and call on others who left early to also come back.
All delegates will be given free hand to vote in this convention.”
Former Niger governor, Babangida Aliyu on behalf of former governors said PDP will leave the convention more united and stronger.
“Nigerians now know that PDP has done beautifully well. They now realise that there is no alternative to PDP in Nigeria.
“After 2019 we will ensure qualitative and functional education.
“We will keep to all agreements reached.
“The government of PDP will create employment for the millions of graduates that have no place to work now.
“We will ensure that Agriculture is transformed. The laws of corruption will be addressed. We will fight corruption by fighting poverty and marginalisation.
“We will fight corruption by being our brothers’ keepers.”
Senator Godswill Akpabio, the Minority leader of the Senate, said the PDP is committed to sustaining Nigeria.
Akpabio said party members have been contributing positively in the National Assembly to help the APC administration for the good of Nigeria, so that the PDP will take over a healthy country in 2019.
“We will ensure there is level playing field for the election of new party leaders,” he says.
Mr. Akpabio remarked, “If the government in power does well, it’ll bequeath a better Nigeria for the future generations.We supported the government in order to get our country out of recession.
“This is to enable the ruling party hand over an economy that is not in recession to us.We appreciate contenders; our joy is in your participation.
“We as elected representatives will never let Nigeria down. We will work to ensure that whoever emerges as chairman enjoys our support. We will work with all the new executives and we’re not going to say we want to leave because we didn’t have our way.”
Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, assured,“There is nothing wrong in a man falling, but the ability to rise again is all that matters.
“To the delegates, the interest of the PDP is paramount. I urge everyone to put the interest of the PDP first.
“When PDP regains power, the bag of rice selling for N20,000 will go back to N7,000.”
Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Senate President noted, “The people of the north east were liberated from Boko Haram but they are now being afflicted.
“There will be peace in the north east when PDP returns to power.
“I am proud to be a member of PDP and I am proud of the 16 years that the party was in power.
“We got debt forgiveness under PDP, but today we are heading into more serious debts.
“We had 16 years of life and are having two years of darkness; Nigerians want to see the light again.”
Abubakar Atiku, former Vice President, remarked,“It is great to be home. I believe in Nigeria.
“I believe in one Nigeria where all our people have equal opportunities.
“This belief inspired me and other compatriots to establish the PDP on the ideals of one united nation built on the principles of justice and equity. I fought to prevent tenure elongation.
“I fought for our party’s constitution even at the risk of being forced out of the party.
“Today, I am proud to say I have returned home to our party.
“I am proud that the PDP is the party that successfully took over power from the military in 1999.
“I am proud that the PDP is the first to give Nigeria a transition from one party to another.
“In 2015, the PDP was not united and Nigerians voted for change.
“We must unite because under the APC, Nigeria is not working.
“The APC promised to give Nigerians 3 million jobs a year, instead 3 million jobs lost.
“APC promised restructuring, now it is denying.”
“We made mistakes in the past, we are human beings, but we put our nation first.
“APC continues to blame previous governments rather than solving the problems.
“PDP is the only truly national party in Nigeria. The PDP must be the party that is the hope of the common man for the common good of the commonwealth of Nigeria.
“Let us elect the very best leaders for our party. Leaders who truly understand what it means to provide an alternative to the PDP.
“Those who understand what it means to devolve power to our states.”
Namadi Sambo, former Vice President said, “Glad to God for seeing a great day in which the PDP will elect new set of officials. I pray for peaceful, free elections.
Goodluck Jonathan former President lamented that “Let me note with sadness the kidnap of our Plateau state PDP Chairman, Sango, who was abducted alongside two others on his way to attend this convention.
“Many who left are returning, like a loving father PDP is welcoming them all with open arms.
“Ours is a party with enviable history and records. PDP is a party that continues to promise and has never failed.
“We have never deceived Nigerians; we only promise what we can deliver.
“Those who win today must carry everybody along. Everyone is a winner.
“As you leave here today take the message of unity back to your respective states, local governments, wards and pilling unit.
“Tell everyone that PDP is back and ready to take back power. Ongoing persecution will come to pass. Members should remain strong.”