Presidential, guber primaries: Anenih calls for change of process

…Says NGF is now an opposition platform to FG

LAGOS — Chairman of the Board of Trustees, BoT, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Tony Anenih has called for a change in the way the party chooses its presidential and gubernatorial candidates in order to reduce rancour.

Chief Anenih  in an address to the meeting of South-south political leaders in Asaba, Delta State capital, yesterday, also upbraided party members, who he said have become susceptible to the antics of opposition parties.

He especially condemned the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, which he said has derailed from its original purposes and had become a weapon for confronting the Federal Government.

Anenih’s speech also touched on other areas of the party including discipline, which he said has completely collapsed across all levels just as he also made a strong case for supporting President Goodluck Jonathan, who, he said, has become a target for negative profiling by oppos- ition parties being helped by renegade PDP members.

While calling for greater unity in the face of the evolving merger of some of the nation’s leading opposition parties, Anenih, nevertheless dismissed the proposed All Progressives Congress, APC, as a house built on sand, which he said would collapse with the first drop of rain.

Chief Tony Anenih

Noting the need to review the process for the nomination of party candidates for the presidential and gubernatorial elections, the BoT chairman said: “Our party primaries have, over the years, been the most serious sources of rancour and disunity in our ranks.

“Almost two years are devoted to pre-election processes for political offices and another two in managing post-primaries/election bitterness and disunity.

“More pernicious is the fact that we invest so much resources and energy fighting ourselves in the primaries that should have gone into the larger battle against our political rivals.

“We cannot continue this tradition of internal warfare. We must not live under the illusion that we can fight ourselves to finish and hope that we can continue to have enough energy left to win elections.”

Continuing, he said: “We must, therefore, evolve a new system of selecting our flag-bearers at the presidential and governorship levels that would preserve our unity and reserve our energy and resources for the greater battle for political power.

“We must seriously consider this in order to avoid frictions and acrimony in the overall interest of our party and the nation.”

Noting what he described as the media vilification of the president, he said that “a well-oiled wheel of insidious media propaganda has been tirelessly churning out sinister information about the Jonathan administration for the purpose of destabilising (and eventually replacing) his government.

“Unfortunately, some of these political enemies have PDP members as accomplices.  What the anti-Jonathan forces are doing is to create tension in a desperate bid to unsettle and disrupt the administration.”

He then advised that “any of our brothers and sisters being used to play mischievous roles should be dissuaded from  doing so,” adding, “I also wish to enjoin our governors and federal legislators to assist in promoting the policies and projects of the Jonathan administration.”

“Our historical and political experience demand that we give him (President Jonathan) the maximum cooperation to succeed in transforming this country into a stable and prosperous industrial nation. His success will be our success and a testimony to the greatness of our people.

“We must not labour under the illusion that we can be spectators in the bold and necessary drama of national reconstruction, or worse still; align with those who seek power for its own sake rather than for the good of our people.”

On the NGF, he lamented that the body has been transformed into a platform for confrontation of the Federal Government, saying it has derailed from its mission statement of “providing a common platform for synergy, collaboration among interests” or “serving as a bi-partisan lobby group which fosters, promotes and sustains democratic ethos, good governance in Nigeria, Africa and beyond.”

“Indeed, the general perception is that the NGF has become a formidable group of power wielders, seeking to control governments at all levels, including the Federal Government.”

What is now beyond doubt, is that the NGF has been hijacked by opposition Governors and is no longer promoting the interest of the PDP.  It is for this reason that I fully endorse the formation of the PDP Governors Forum.”

Reviewing the reconciliation tour embarked upon by the BoT under his leadership, he said: “It is true that some Governors have complaints against the leadership of the party; however, such complaints are not sufficient to warrant any rebellion as speculated.

“There have also been some complaints against the Governors.  In any case, the problems raised are not insurmountable as, indeed, they are already being addressed by the leadership of the Party.”

“We must always be conscious that if the PDP becomes fragmented as a result of the inordinate ambitions of a few members, our country, our democracy and our people will suffer. We must, therefore, subsume our ambitions to the greater good of our party and our country.

“We must not live under the illusion that our party is invulnerable. Although, the existing opposition parties are still too small, fragile and sectional, we must not ignore the possibility that a merger of these parties may constitute a threat to our current dominance of the political terrain.

“The proposed merger of four political parties under the umbrella of the All Progressives Congress (APC) appears to be a house built on sand, which is likely to collapse with the first rain. Speaking seriously, however, we cannot afford to be complacent. We must expect any eventualities and prepare to overcome them.”

He said the BoT was exerting itself to deal with issues in the areas of discipline and unity, stressing that “the party suffers from widespread indiscipline in nearly all of its chapters.” According to him, “Internal schism, lawlessness and disorder now permeate the party nationwide, and as Chairman of the BoT, my focus is on reconciliation, party cohesion and discipline. I enjoin all of you to take up this challenge in your various States.”

He tasked the meeting to be fully aware of the antics of mischief makers who thrive on rumour-mongering, saying “day-in-day-out, there are unfounded rumours and speculations about issues that have no factual basis.

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