……Wants an open contest for presidential ticket
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has charged the newly elected National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to ensure transparent and credible primaries ahead of the 2019 general election.
He blamed the party’s defeat in the 2015 general election on lack of internal democracy that manifested in the forms of imposition of candidates and disregard for the party’s constitution.
Ekweremadu stated this in a keynote address he delivered at the opening of a two-day retreat for the NWC and State Chairmen of the PDP in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said: “Another election year is by the corner. The new NWC must ensure that the party does not repeat past mistakes. We must return power to the people, as our name and slogan rightly demand of us. This will not only reassure Nigerians that we are indeed an improved and rebranded PDP, but will also encourage the massive return of former party faithful.
“Furthermore, the public will evaluate our commitment to end corruption and promote accountability and transparency by the way we handle internal party affairs.
“We have a history of fighting corruption and our systems must be corruption-free. This should stand us out as the only hope to eradicate corruption in Nigeria. The PDP established the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
“We saw to the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act and introduction of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), Treasury Single Account (TSA), and the Biometric Verification Number (BVN). The PDP also ensured that the Civil Society Organisations and the press flourished to promote an accountable and open society.
“There was no effort by the PDP to tame the Non-Governmental Organisations or the use of the social media. Importantly, we beamed the anti-graft searchlight on our own members to demonstrate that there must be no sacred cows in the war against graft.
“Therefore, we must conduct our affairs in a way that reassure Nigerians that under the incoming PDP administration, we will not only consolidate on all these track record, but will also firmly eradicate corruption from 2019”.
The Senator also warned against any form of undue interferences by the NWC in the affairs of the state chapters of the party.
“I appeal to the NWC to ensure that the state executives of the party enjoy the freedom to run the affairs of the party at the state level. The current NWC should emphatically denounce all forms of impunity and the politics of godfather and godson.
“The state executives and members of our party at that level understand the character of the aspirants, their popularity, and the local circumstances in their jurisdictions. They should, therefore, be allowed to work with the electoral panels to pilot the primaries transparently and creditably.
“But like Caesar’s wife, the state executives must also live above board. This is a new PDP”, he added.
On the party’s presidential ticket, Ekweremadu urged the NWC provide a level playing ground for all interested and qualified aspirants.
He said: “Of utmost importance in the build up to 2019 election year is our choice of presidential candidate. The fate and political fortunes of the party depend on the party’s presidential candidate.
“The party must, therefore, identify a candidate with the credentials, reach, charisma, competence, and popularity to outmatch any candidate presented by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and any other party for that matter.
“The party’s leadership should encourage every interested and qualified member to vie for the ticket in a free, fair, and credible party primary. Let the best candidate emerge”.