There were indications in Abuja on Monday that the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party had yet to settle for the venue of its national convention scheduled for October 5 and 6.
The party had earlier announced that the event would hold in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
But our correspondent gathered that some presidential aspirants of the party had expressed reservation about the venue.
They were said to have felt that the Rivers State Governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, would have an overbearing influence on the convention.
Wike, it was gathered, was being scared off by the aspirants because he could use the convention to favour his preferred candidate among the 13 aspirants.
The disagreements among the party leaders were blown open at the national headquarters of the party in Abuja on Monday, during the inauguration of the PDP National Convention Planning Committee.
We have agreed on Port Harcourt, says deputy national chairman
The Deputy National Chairman of the party, South, Mr Taiwo Akinwomi, said that the party had settled for Port Harcourt.
He said a committee headed by Amb. Ibrahim Kazaure was set up by the party, which he said picked the venue.
He said, “On the issue of venue, the party set up a committee headed by Ibrahim Kazure, and they went round the South-South and South-East zones before coming out with the choice of Port Harcourt for us.
“As in acceptance, the National Working Committee has consulted widely with the PDP Governors’ Forum; we have consulted widely with the Board of Trustees; we have consulted widely with caucuses of the party and today it has been jointly accepted that we will converge on 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 wanted to come and watch the process that will lead to the emergence of our candidate because by the grace of God, our candidate will be the next President of Nigeria.”
No, we have yet to agree —BoT chairman
Hardly had Akinwomi finished with his speech when the Chairman of the BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin, stood up to disagree with him.
Jibrin said that the party was still consulting and that it had yet to make up its mind.
He said, “Let me congratulate you all for making the National Committee list. It is a very big task but we all accepted due to the excellent record in the last convention. That is why we all agreed that the chairman of the convention should be the governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, and others.
“Even though the deputy 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.
“(This is ) because there are many suggestions on the issue of venue. We (will) look at all the suggestions and I can 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 (that is) acceptable by everybody. I want to say that every one of us should come together and ensure that we have a venue suitable to all of us.”
NWC, BoT should resolve issue of venue —Ebonyi gov
The Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Dave Umahi, who is also the secretary of the committee, however, appealed to both the BoT and the NWC to settle the issue of the venue in earnest.
“I think the working committee and the BoT need to settle this,” he said.
We cannot afford to disagree —Okowa
The Chairman of the committee, who is also the governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, appealed to the party leaders not to disagree in public.
He said the party and the committee would meet to agree on the matter.
He said, “First, we must appreciate and thank the party to be appointed as members of the Special National Convention Planning Committee.
“And we do know as a party that we are in very critical moments in the history of our nation and the history of our great party, PDP.
“We do understand that the assignment that you have given us is about the most important assignment in the history of this party at least for this year.
“We are very much aware that if we get this convention right and when the processes are such that they are credible, free and fair, we will definitely have the buy-in of all our presidential aspirants. And we will now have a united family.
“I also want to believe that if there are any internal issues, it will be resolved within today. I am very confident of that.
“Because all of us believe that the only way forward is for the entirety of the party to stay united and focused. And as such, as members of the PDP, we cannot afford to disagree on any issue.
“The thing that is needed is for a free and fair primary to be conducted for all our aspirants. And we are very definite that we will get it right. No matter where we take it to, we will do what is right. And I believe that at the end of the day, nobody will have any cause to complain.”