Editor's note: Public affairs commentator, Etoh O. C, writes on the smooth and credible presidential primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spearheaded by the chairman of the special national convention committee and Delta state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.
The national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have come and gone, with a major highlight being the victory of His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the party's flag bearer in next year’s (2019) presidential election. And from all indications, the process which was held at the Adokiye Amasiemaka stadium in Port Harcourt centered on ensuring that the party presents a candidate that would not only unite all aspirants under one force, but also ensure it defeats the ruling party next year.
So much have already been said concerning the victory that saw the former vice president clinch the top spot amongst many notable party leaders, with a good number believing that it was a victory well deserved, after several trials to become the president of Nigeria.
But at the heart of this whole fuzz and buzz about the emergence of Atiku was a process that ensured every member and aspirant was fully satisfied and convincingly appreciative of the party, promising to work with the successful candidate.
It would be notable to recall that the success of the convention, comes months after the party had a dark cloud over its head, one that was marred with uncertainty about the future of the party. There was a big task to bring the party to a new beginning after months of chairmanship tussle between Ahmed Makarfi and Ali Modu Sheriff, and then another task which seem most important was to present the party with a candidate that would put them back on track to reclaim the number one seat in Nigeria.
The selection of the very humble and soft spoken governor of Delta state, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa to chair the convention committees became that link between the birth of a reformed PDP and their rise to relevance in the Nigerian polity. His first task was to pilot the convocation of a non-elective convention, which sole aim, was to set the records straight and prepare the party for a new direction under a group of elected National Working Committee members. That duty having been carried out successfully, the stage was set for an elective convention.
Now, the next task assigned to Governor Okowa was for him to spearhead the organization of a credible process that will lead to the emergence of a national chair and other National Working committee members. Again, it was another successful outing by the Okowa led convention planning committee members. When that was achieved, it wasn’t a surprise that the party saddled him with the arduous task of presiding over the conduct of the Ekiti state PDP governorship primaries. The credible and transparent process that characterized the conduct of the exercise is still a subject of discuss even as it remains an example worth emulating by political parties. These many credible outing by Governor Okowa which has boosted the PDP’s re-branding initiatives obviously positioned Okowa at the centre in the party’s quest for yet another special convention but this time around to elect the presidential flag bearer of the party in the 2019 election.
Right from the moment the committee was inaugurated, Senator Okowa being the committee chairman, together with his team kept assuring all aspirant and officials of a smooth and fair process; and yes he did live up to that expectation.
Prior to the convention Governor Okowa stated that “what is needed is a free and fair primaries to be conducted for our aspirants, no matter where the venue is, we will do what is right and no one will have a reason to complain.” He knew what was at stake, and he was ready to work for the best.
Although many may have underestimated the Delta state governor’s will to demonstrate a high sense of accountability and pursue an agenda that speaks volume about the effect of unity in the party, what they would now conclude is that Okowa is a man of many good qualities, one of which is his ability to organize and execute for the greater good.
Not new to organizing though, it is no coincidence that he has repeatedly been given the nod to shoulder the burden of bringing together party faithful, some of which had been nursing disappointments and others who had just come back into the party from the All Progressive Congress (APC). This indeed was a job so many people would have avoided. But as a man of distinct character, the SMART governor’s role would go down in history as a road warden that guided the party to a new era.
Since the successful conclusion of the convention, there have been resounding and incessant calls from Nigerians for the governor to be appointed the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, a role many believe would ensure credibility in next year’s poll, but the SMART governors’ focus remains to sustain and improve development and prosperity in Delta state.
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