The national convention of Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got underway Saturday, as over 3,600 delegates converged on Eagle Square, Abuja to elect new leaders at the echelon of the party.
Developments leading up to the convention were not without controversy, however, the party managed to scale through various legal hurdles which had initially put the exercise in serious doubt.
Only on Friday, an Appeal Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, dismissed a suit filed by Uche Secondus, seeking to stop the PDP from holding the national convention. The decision gave PDP the green light to go ahead with the exercise as scheduled.
The party is now set to put its house in order by electing new party leadership ahead of the 2023 general elections. About 21 positions in the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party are expected to be keenly contested during the convention.
The Eagle Square is currently filled with members claded with the green, white, red colours of the PDP.
Present at the venue are; former Vice president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar; Governor of Adamawa State and Chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee, Ahmadu Fintiri; Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State; Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State; Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State; former Senate president Bukola Saraki.
Also, Minority Leader of the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe; and senators Philip Aduda, Biodun Olujimi and Obinna Ogba are among top chieftains already at the Eagles Square.
Addressing party officials at the convention, Atiku charged his fellow party members to put aside their differences and sentiments to ensure that PDP is positioned for successful outing in the coming elections.
The former presidential candidate noted that the decisions of the party at the national convention would shape the future of PDP as well as Nigeria.
In his words, “We have a chance now to set the ship on the right course; we have a chance to atone for our collective mistakes and those of past leadership.
“We have a chance to unite the country as we march towards achieving the dreams of our founding fathers at independence so many years ago.
“We have a chance to set our country on an enviable position in the comity of nations; we can save ourselves, we can save the party, we can save Nigeria together.”
Voting had begun at the convention. As of the time of this reporting, delegates from about 26 states had already voted in what looks like a consensus-driven exercise.
Earlier, the PDP had agreed to have a concensus candidate for the chairmanship position of the party. Recall also that the zoning committee headed by the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had earlier resolved to zone its national chairmanship position to the north.
Following the decision, the northern stakeholders agreed on presenting former Senate President, Iyorchia Ayu, as their consensus candidate for the position of National Chairman of the PDP.
The positions of deputy national chairman (South), national auditor and national youth leader, are yet to have consensus candidates as of press time.