As the struggle for political space ahead of the 2019 general election heats up, chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the Southern region of Nigeria, have started making plans to fortify the region for the coming challenges.
Party leaders who gathered at the residence of the former Minister of Information, Chief Tom Ikimi in Abuja, had the strong belief that they need to emulate their northern folk who in 2015 were united across party lines in voting in a particular direction.
The regional leaders under the auspices of the PDP Southern Leaders Consultative Forum, met from Wednesday night to the wee hours of yesterday.
Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, Ikimi, who convened the meeting, said the forum constituted a seven-man committee to be chaired by former Governor of Cross River State Liyel Imoke to propose its structure.
While speaking during the opening session, Ikimi, noted that while the PDP constitution recognised the North and South in order to establish equality, stability and fairness in power sharing, forum’s aim to rebuild and re-launch the party.
He said: “We have come to a point where this party has to be born again. Those of us who come from the South must see ourselves as one. If we do not unite and come together all our ambition will be an illusion. This is time for unity and brotherhood. It’s time that we put our house in order.
“This is not a time for power sharing. This is a meeting to inaugurate a new face and direction for the PDP. We should see ourselves as southern Nigeria, that if presidency is coming to the South it is coming to all of us in Southern Nigeria. And if there is any structure that should come to southern Nigeria we should work together for it.
“Those people who fought to divide us, did so in their personal interest and that is why I hope that today we will start a movement that will be different, that our people will work together and we will be able to fight together.
“As we speak, the Northern leaders of the PDP are also meeting regularly to put their house in order. It is not by mistake that they found themselves in 2015 voting in a particular direction. They took the decision as a people, whether they were in APC or PDP, they took the decision and they worked together. But our people were picked one by one and scattered. If we had worked together, we wouldn’t have failed in 2015 general elections,” he said.
Ikimi said governors from the South would be pleased by this movement, adding that they are going to work together.
“It is not a matter of dividing the party but putting together our forces because whatever decisions we take on a democratic basis, that is long lasting because everybody will be part of the decision. It is unfortunate if decisions are taken by a handful of people in a room and they hand down that decision to us. It will not be in our best interest. I hope this will be a beginning of that movement. We should be able to sit together and structure how this forum will work.”
Some of the prominent politicians from the zone who attended the meeting witnessed by the Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee Secretary, Ben Obi and its spokesman, Prince Dayo Adeyeye are: former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro.
Other are former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha; Mulikat Abiola, Chief Raymond Dokpesi; former governorship candidate of the PDP in Lagos State, Jimi Agbaje; Stella Onu, Iyiola Omisore, Remi Adiukwu; Hon Mulikat Akande and Shuaibu Oyedekun.