The crisis-free convention by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, aside from raising hope of stronger opposition party, appears to have been a reason for panic in the camp of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC
The atmosphere was electric. The swagger was familiar. Eagle Square reverberated with nostalgia for the umbrella of green, red and black. Party faithful surged in and swarmed around the pavilions in their numbers, exultant, exuberant and boisterous. Comedians, physically challenged acrobats, musicians and women arrayed in a festival of their three colours added lively flavour to the unfolding political carnival. For a moment it felt like they were back in power. The Master of Ceremony had to admonish delegates that it was not a ‘bazaar’ but an ‘elective convention.’ That was the mood on Saturday, December 9, when the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, held their 25th national convention in Abuja and elected 21 substantive officers to run the affairs of the party.
For the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led Convention Committee everything appeared to have fitted into the plans. There were no rancour, even where some protests occurred it did not affect the mood of the day. Then the winners did not just burry their heads in celebration after the convention, they swiftly moved to appease the losers. Certainly leaders of PDP appear to have learnt a great deal from the past. The lessons of 16 years in power and over two years on the sidelines as opposition appeared to have left its scars on the brow and conscience of the ‘largest party in black Africa.’ The anxiety to get the convention right was so palpable you could touch it. Everything appeared to hang on it. They were in the arena and they were conscious of the fact that both the country and the international community were watching their new dance steps. Foreign journalists and observers braved winter flights to be at the Eagle Square to see what has become of PDP and if they could put up a fight in 2019.
The 21 polling stations stood in the middle of Eagle Square in four rows of green and white with dwarf empty transparent ballot boxes by the sides. A lot of horse-trading had gone on all night to build consensus and this produced the ‘Unity List.’ Some candidates withdrew seeing they had lost out even before the voting. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, representatives, were there to monitor the election. At the end, the party that has been battling with allegations of corruption and which has lost members to the ruling party had an almost conflict-free convention, electing officers that exude confidence. That surely should give its opponents cause to worry.
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For instance, Uche Secondus, the newly elected national chairman, is said to have the right mentality and experience to unite the party, going into the 2019 general elections. When he took over from Ahmed Makarfi, former governor of Kaduna State and chairman of the party’s caretaker committee, last Monday, he sounded conciliatory and one prepared to be a team leader, ready to repackage PDP for the next general election. He said, “The election has come and gone and there is no victor, no vanquished. We promise you to rebuild our party, to reposition our party and that will start today. We intend to hit the ground running. We will make sure that there is no more imposition and that the era of impunity is over. …. The old order has gone and the new order of discipline is in place and we are going to try as much as possible to ensure zero tolerance for corruption.” The last of his pledge was necessary to dispel the chorus that PDP is the insignia of corruption as championed by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.