Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko
Olusola Fabiyi and Toluwani Eniola
Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, his Ekiti State counterpart, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, and other leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party from the South-West, will meet in Akure, the Ondo State capital on Monday, to pick a consensus candidate among those running for the office of the national chairman of the party.
The national convention of the party will hold in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on August 17 where national officers of the main opposition party are expected to be elected.
Ahead of the convention, the Expanded National Caucus of the party had zoned the office of the national chairman to the southern part of the country.
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Leaders of the party from the entire southern region met at Port Harcourt on Thursday where they said the office should go to the South-West, which is the only zone out of the three zones in the region, that had yet to produce the national chairman of the party.
Already, two formidable candidates from the zone have openly indicated their interest in the race.
The candidates are a former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Bode George and a former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran.
But while George had paid the mandatory N1m nomination fee and picked his nomination form at the party’s temporary secretariat in Abuja, Adeniran said he would pick his own on Monday.
There are rumours that other candidates are still consulting and could pick their nomination forms from this week.
Those who were believed to be nursing the ambition are, a former governorship candidate of the party in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje and a former Minister of Youths and Sports, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja.
George and Agbaje are from Lagos State while Adeniran and Adedoja are from Ekiti and Oyo States respetitively.
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The Akure meeting is believed to be crucial as other offices apart from that of the national chairman which had also been zoned to the region, would be shared.
The two offices are that of the National Treasurer and Deputy National Publicity Secretary.
The meeting, it was gathered, would also allocate the state or states that should produce the zonal vice chairman.
A former Minister of Transportation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, who confirmed that invitations had been sent to those expected to be at the meeting, described it as crucial.
Babatope said that the meeting would afford the members of the party to critically peruse the credentials of those interested in the offices, especially that of the national chairman.
He said, “All of us are going to Akure on Monday where we are going to discuss on those that will represent us at the national headquarters of the party in Abuja.
“Now that we have the opportunity to present the national chairman, we must present someone that is acceptable to the generality of members of the party and also, such a person must represent us well.”
Meanwhile, a group within the Peoples Democratic Party, Concerned Stakeholders, has kicked against the recent zoning arrangement of the party which ceded the national chairmanship position to the South-West.
It asked the party’s delegates to boycott the convention of the party scheduled to hold on August 17.
The group, in a statement issued by its patron, Prof. Tayo Adeyemi, on Saturday, said the zoning arrangement was illegal and was tantamount to moving the goalposts.
It said the PDP’s constitution did not specify the extent of the power of the caretaker committee.
According to the group, the ambiguity in the provisions of the constitution is a good reason for the party’s leadership to be careful.
The statement partly read, “What are the criteria for candidates vying for the post of the national chairman? This is the problem of the PDP. A national post must have laid down criteria. Candidates vying for such a position must have spent a reasonable number of years in the party, must never have been indicted by the anti-graft agencies and must have never served any jail term
“It is, therefore, unfortunate that after the chairmanship race commenced and it was obvious that some candidates were getting unpopular , the usual manoeuvring which cost the PDP the woeful loss at the 2015 election has commenced again. Any attempt to suppress the common will of the people would result in a total disintegration of the party.”
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