Ahead of the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) fixed for Wednesday, the party will commence screening of aspirants for various offices to be contested during the exercise.
However, there were indications on Sunday that the party might not go into the convention with the much expected unity as its former acting National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has insisted that he would not be part of it.
In a statement issued yesterday by the Chairman of the National Convention Committee and Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, the party asked all aspirants to present themselves to the screening committee with their original certificates, original nomination forms and photocopies.
The statement signed by the Chairman, Publicity Sub-Committee, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, said the party also summoned all aspirants to a meeting with the national convention committee monday.
According to the party’s programme of activities, screening of aspirants is to take place in Port Harcourt on August 15, while the appeal committee would entertain complaints as from August 16
The statement read: “All aspirants are to present themselves to the screening committee with their original certificates, original nomination form and set of photocopies.
“There shall be a meeting of all aspirants with the national convention leadership today at Government House, Port Harcourt. by 8p.m. prompt.”
Meanwhile, the peace efforts of the party appear to have hit the rocks as the main actor in the intra-party squabble, Sheriff, said yesterday that he would not attend the convention organised by the National Caretaker Committee headed by its Chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
Speaking with journalists on phone yesterday, the Special Assistant to Sheriff on Media and Publicity, Mr. Inuwa Bwala, said Sheriff was not interested in the convention as he was busy doing other things.
He said the former Borno State governor was watching to see if Makarfi would succeed in his objective.
Sheriff’s aide however declined to say whether he would attempt to stop the convention, using the court or not.
“We don’t have to be reacting. He is doing his convention, we are doing some other things. They are putting us on the defensive and that will not sell. We are not part of it, we don’t know about it and we will not even comment about it.
“Let’s just wait and see whether he will have his way. We are fixing the party. We are trying to bring aggrieved members on board so that we can move the party forward,” he said.
The reconciliation committee set by the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP had while submitting its report last Friday said it has recommended measures that would bring Sheriff and others who are aggrieved back to the fold.
The chairman of the peace committee, Prof. Jerry Gana, also said they had asked all combatants to withdraw pending courts cases as a condition to further the cause of reconciliation.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Publicity Sub-Committee of the PDP Convention Planning Committee, Ugochukwu has stated that the national convention would go on as scheduled, urging all the leaders, members, stakeholders, well wishers and followers of the evolution of the party to converge on the famous ‘Garden City’ to chart a new course for the political party.
Ugochukwu charged all stakeholders of the party to turn up en masse at the Port Harcourt convention, to give a new lease of life to the party.
He debunked the misconception that the convention had once again been postponed, advising members to disregard any such rumour.
In a reference to insinuation that the convention had been rescheduled, he observed that the only recognisable interim executive of the PDP by law, empowered to organise a convention “is the one led by Makarfi.”
He cited the tacit recognition of the Makarfi committee by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the only lawful interim apex leadership of the PDP and the recent judgment given by a high court in Port Harcourt, restraining the security services from interfering with the forthcoming convention, to buttress his argument.
According to him, the Makarfi caretaker committee had worked very hard to achieve its mandate of organising a consensually agreed convention, within 90 days from the date of the rescheduled event.
He explained that the earlier convention hosted at the same venue on May 21 had put in place a caretaker committee “to steer the affairs of the party on an interim basis.”
He added the May 21 convention mandated the interim committee “to organise a fresh convention within 90 days, to put in place a substantive national working committee, the highest executive organ of the party, to steer its affairs on a sustainable basis.”
He enjoined members of the PDP to demonstrate loyalty and solidarity with the party by turning out an masse at the convention.
Ugochukwu appreciated all governors elected on the platform of the party, for their continued support to ensure the sustenance and survival of the party.
He thanked Rivers State Governor, Wike, for his generosity and conscientiousness in hosting two critical conventions of the party, within the short span of three months, despite the current economic crunch.