By JACOB KUBEKA (Politics Editor)
Newly elected National Chairman of Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, has pledged that the party, under his watch, would adhere strictly to internal democracy with a deliberate policy to return ‘real’ power to the people.
In his acceptance speech after he was declare winner of the contest at the party’s national convention in Abuja on Sunday, Secondus declared that the era of imposition and impunity was over.
He said, “With your mandate, I assure you that all necessary steps will be taken to avoid a repeat of our past mistakes.
“We have to learn from our mistakes; by this convention, we are now set to forge a new path for our great party and Nigeria.
“Under my watch, internal democracy will be strictly adhered to with a deliberate policy to return ‘real’ power to the people. No more imposition, no more impunity.
“Every member of this party can, from this moment, consider him or herself, an equal shareholder in our common destiny,” he assured.
While calling on all Nigerians to embrace the new PDP and join its quest for a new Nigeria, the new chairman also called on old PDP members, who, for one reason or the other, left the party, to please come back ‘home’.
Secondus called for the support of his co-contestants, especially the chairmanship aspirants, saying that they were all eminently qualified to lead the party.
“I thank you for a worthy contest and for being part of history because this marks the first time a stiff contest of this magnitude is taking place toward producing the leadership of a political party in Nigeria.
“You have every cause to stand tall and I now extend my hand of fellowship to you all. Let us rebuild, re-position and regain.”
Secondus said that he was aware that the mandate given to him was to return PDP to power in 2019, and declared that the task was “herculean but achievable.”
” My campaign pillars for this election are to rebuild, re-position and regain. By the grace of God and with all hands on deck, the brief tenancy of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Aso Rock Villa expires on May 28, 2019.”
He said that PDP’s contributions to the growth and sustenance of democracy of Nigeria in the last 18 years were still there for all to see, adding that the best best way to celebrate the memories of the party’s founding fathers was to engage their ideals.
Secondus commended the party members for offering him the opportunity to serve, and also lauded the courage of the outgoing National Caretaker Committee led by Sen. Ahmed Makarfi.
The former acting National Chairman the PDP was elected as the National Chairman of the party, having scored 2,000 votes out of the 2,396 votes cast at the party’s national convention, which ended in the early hours of Sunday at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
Chairman of the Electoral Sub-Committee of the convention and former Governor of Benue, Gabriel Suswan, announced the results and said that the election for chairmanship position was keenly contested by four candidates.
“In this contest, nine gentlemen indicated their interests to contest, but here, four of them sent letters of withdrawal and so four were left.
“The other ones we were told have withdrawn but there was no letter to that effect.
“The four gentlemen that contested were Uche Secondus, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Founder of Daar Communications; Prof. Tunde Adeniran, former Education Minister and Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, former Minister of Sports and Special Duties.
“Secondus scored 2,000 votes; Dokpesi, 66; Adeniran, 230 while Adedoja scored no vote,” Suswan said.
The candidates that withdrew were Chief Bode George, former Deputy National Chairman; Gbenga Daniel, Rasheed Ladoja, erstwhile Governors of Ogun and Oyo States, respectively, and Jimi Agbaje, PDP governorship candidate in Lagos State in 2015 elections.
Other elected officers were Sen. Babayo Garmawa, Deputy National Chairman (North); Mr Yemi Akinwunmi, Deputy National Chairman (South); Sen. Umar Tsauri, National Secretary and Mr Agbo Emmanuel, Deputy National Secretary.
Retired Col. Austin Akinbundu is new National Organising Secretary, Yakubu Hassan, Deputy National Organizing Secretary; Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, National Publicity Secretary and Diran Odeyemi, Deputy National Publicity Secretary.
Mr Abdullahi Maibasira emerged National Financial Secretary, Irona Gerald, Deputy National Financial Secretary; Aribisala Adewale, National Treasurer; Wada Masu, Deputy National Treasurer; Adamu Mustapha, National Auditor and Arong Divine, Deputy National Auditor.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mariya Umar was elected National Women Leader, Umoru Hadiza, Deputy National Women Leader, and Emmanuel Enoidem, National Youth Leader.
The Chairman of the Convention Planning Committee and Governor of Delta, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, commended the Election Sub-Committee for “job well done”.
He also commended all the candidates and delegates who participated in elections and party leaders and members for cooperation that ensured the success of the convention.
Dokpesi congratulates new PDP Chairman
Meanwhile, the founder of Daar Communications, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, who contested the PDP National Chairmanship position and lost, has congratulated the winner, Prince Uche Secondus.
Dokpesi, who had earlier faulted the process of the party’s National Convention held in Abuja on Saturday, declared that “the delegates have spoken”.
“Ì appreciate the delegates for voting at the convention and congratulate the newly elected National Working Committee of the PDP led by Secondus.
“You will recall that I said that the PDP must be the ultimate winner at the end of the contest.
“God bless the Peoples Democratic Party. Congratulations PDP as I wish all our members the best of luck,” Dokpesi said.
(with additional reports from NAN)