Despite the uncertainties surrounding the proposed national convention of Africa’s largest party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chieftains of the party are upbeat that nothing should stop the convention scheduled in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital to hold as planned.
Reconciliation is ongoing between the Ali Modu Sheriff’s faction of the party and Ahmed Makarfi faction. Though the reconciliation moves seem not to be going according to the speed many enthusiastic members would have wanted, but party optimists are upbeat that the light being envisioned at the end of this thick fog of thick tunnel is such that will usher in lasting peace.
Perhaps, based on this, those who want to occupy the many plum positions do not want to allow such to dampen their enthusiastic spirit. One of such aspirants is George Turnah. A lawyer from Bayelsa, he has kept faith with the party in thick and in thin. He is a youth by all definitions of the word, but he is not allowing that to come against his aspiration.
In vying for the post of the party’s national deputy chairman even against some established names, he has his personal manifesto cut out on why he wants to be a member of the party’s National Working Committee. According to him, “I want to make a difference. We should be able to do things right. First is that my aspiration makes a very strong statement to the extent that young people given the right opportunity can do well. World over, I have come to see young leaders emerging at different points and doing very well and holding the world together. I want a better Nigeria; a Nigeria that is well transformed and whose leadership guarantees security for the citizens and that puts food on the tables of our people and promotes social welfare to a level where there is happiness in the land. Political party in democracy is very important. So, I am going to the PDP NWC to contribute my quota and because I am a young person I am not just going to be contributing my own quota but I will also have the opportunity of bringing on board fresh ideas and would be accessible.”
No doubt, there have been some pockets of oppositions to his aspirations from some entrenched quarters, who strongly believe that he is too young to hold such position. But he vehemently disagrees.
“My attention was drawn to a publication by some online bloggers regarding that. To someone who is conscious and knows the happenings within the PDP, the first thing that comes to your mind is that this is pure fabrication because the writer does not have the facts. First, I am not running for Vice Chairman, South South because the write up tends to portray me as such. I am contesting for the first Deputy National Chairman. Facts were highly misrepresented in that story and so, I will not want to bother myself too much about it.
“As for the governors, let me say that I don’t know any governor who is the oldest man in the state and if you are not the oldest man, it means there are people older than you. So, how do you manage them as governor? I am sure some governors have commissioners who are far older. How do you manage them while in council? The message of former President Jonathan to the youths to mark the International Youth Day answered this question. He said “the youths have no limit in terms of capacity and number to lead this country. The only limit is that for them to contest the Presidency, they need to be 40 as required by our constitution.
“But if Gen Gowon as able to rule this country at 32, there is no reason why the youths should not be given a chance”. So, if Gen Gowon could rule Nigeria at 32 and manage all resources, both human and material, why can’t any other person. In any case, I am contesting as deputy National Chairman and not even as chairman. I know my responsibilities as deputy national chairman as set out in the party’s constitution and as maybe directed by the chairman from time to time. The story talked about how will I manage governors? For God’s sake, I have been a member of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council. I am the only youth member of the Elders Council of the PDP in Bayelsa state. I have related across board like a middle person linking the youths and the elders. It is necessary that leaders of the party should consciously prepare new generation, vibrant crop of young leaders that will eventually step in and take over leadership because when you don’t prepare people that way, obviously, you will be cut off,” he warned.
Despite this opposition, he still maintains that he has the backing of his governor to go all the way. According to him, the governor of his home state of Bayelsa understands that in the political bloc known as Rivers/Bayelsa, Bayelsa has always taken the shorter end of the stick.
According to him, “I have a wonderful relationship with my governor. As a loyal party member, I have had to stand with the governor and the party even in very tough challenging situations. I resigned my appointment with the federal government, being the only PDP member to have done so since former President Jonathan left office. I clearly stated in my resignation letter that I was leaving to help leaders of our party rebuild PDP.
“So, my governor understands that some of us are passionate about our party and the Restoration administration which he heads in Bayelsa. He also understands that Bayelsa has never produced a single human being as a member of the NWC of our party from inception till date. He also knows that when you talk about Rivers Bayelsa as a block, getting federal opportunity either at party level or in government, Bayelsa should rightly, as we speak get whatever it is. When the position of Deputy Speaker position came to the South South and eventually to Rivers/Bayelsa, Rivers state got it twice, when NDDC headquarters came to the two states, Rivers got it.
“At party level, when the position of Vice Chairman came, Marshal Harry from Rivers got it, later it became Dikibo, when it was Organising Secretary, Secondus got it, it came again for Deputy National Chairman, Secondus got it and he eventually became acting National Chairman. So, when you ask for my relationship with my governor over my aspiration, I think and I do know that my governor is with me fully because he understands that this matter is of state interest. So, my governor is not just with me in spirit, he is with me all the way.”
He is not unaware that the party is steeped in a near devastating power tussle, but he is optimistic that the leaders of the party are capable of bringing all resolving the intractable problems.
“I believe that our leader and father, Sheriff is committed to peace. He is a perfect gentle man whom I have interacted with and he is committed to peace, which I will say a right step in the right direction. Now this Convention presents an opportunity for we party leaders to right our wrongs. Why don’t we take full advantage of the Convention and resolve all issues.
“I will appeal passionately to our leaders to allow this convention to come and go once and for all now that people are enthusiastic; now that the tempo is high, let us move in and solve the problems.
“The party is bleeding and it is in the theatre but there is no surgeon. That is the problem we have but this operation must happen now. We must take away the growth before it becomes cancerous. If we don’t do it now, we will end up having more issues. In any case this crisis that is ongoing, there is nobody that is to be blamed; there is nobody you would not blame. No one is right, no one is wrong. Whether A or B. Sherrif is not the cause of our problems, Makarfi is not the cause of our problems. The issues have been there,” he said.

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