Convention venue tears PDP apart

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Barely two weeks to the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), key stakeholders are yet to agree on the choice of a venue.

A meeting yesterday between the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) and the Board of Trustees (BoT) to agree on a venue ended in a deadlock.

A sharp disagreement ensued when the Deputy National Chairman, Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, said the party had agreed on the choice of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital as venue.

Briefing the meeting, Akinwonmi said: “On the issue of venue, the party set up a committee headed by Ambassador Ibrahim Kazaure and they went round the Southsouth and the Southeast zones before coming out with the choice of Port Harcourt.

“As in acceptance, the NWC had consulted widely with the PDP Governors Forum. We have consulted widely with the BOT. We have consulted widely with the various caucuses of the party.

“And today it has been jointly accepted that we will converge in Port Harcourt, in no distance time for the national convention.

The international community has told us that they want to watch keenly the Port Harcourt convention.

“Particularly, they said they want to come and watch the process that will lead to the emergence of our flag bearer, because by the grace of God, our flag bearer will be the next president.”

But, the BoT chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, countered him, saying the party had not agreed to hold the convention in Port Harcourt.

Jibrin said: “Even though the Deputy National Chairman said the issue of venue has been concluded, I want to say that the issue of venue is still on and is not concluded.

“Because there are many suggetions on the issue of venue. We look at all suggestions and let me assure you that the issue of venue will be resolved.

“But, for now, we are working round the clock to ensure that we have a very suitable venue accepted by everybody. I want to say that everyone of us should come together and ensure that we have a venue suitable to all of us”.

A source at the parley confided in our correspondent after the meeting that the leadership of the party has ruled out Abuja as venue for the convention, citing “strategic reasons”.

The source further said that the choice of Enugu was rejected by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for unspecified reasons. Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel also turned down a request to hold the convention in Uyo, the state capital.

It was further revealed that suggestions by some party leaders to hold the convention in Kano did not go down well with many of the 12 presidential aspirants.

Although the source did not state reasons for the rejection of Kano, it was apparent that the choice of the ancient city could be interpreted as working to give undue leverage to one of the presidential aspirants, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.

Jibrin confided in our correspondent that the 12 presidential aspirants would be meeting with the BoT and the chairman of the PDP national convention committee, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State last night.

According to him, the issue of venue would be finally decided at the meeting. He promised the venue would be agreeable to all the aspirants.

Also yesterday, the party inaugurated its National Convention Planning Committee. The 85-member committee is headed by Okowa, with his Taraba State counterpart Darius Ishaku.

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