Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa state is the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 2021 National Convention Organising Committee. In this interview on Channels Television, he spoke on his plans to organise the best convention that will birth a new leadership for the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.
A lot of people are wondering how you are going to navigate through the timing. Is that a source of worry to you?
Really, I am used to such a herculean task in my life. So, I believe that the assignment that has been given to me by my party to give birth to a new leadership that will steer the affairs of the party in the next four years is not going to be a very difficult one. We are really mindful of the time and we will prepare adequately to ensure that we do what Nigerians are expecting from us. This is what we are all out for, particularly, looking at the caliber of the people who are in that committee, their wealth of experience, their background and the offices they have held in their lives in this country, I think they will be able to give us the expected and maximum support to succeed so that we accomplish what Nigerians are expecting from us which is, to produce the next leaders for our great party, the PDP.
Could you please give us more details about the venue of the convention in Abuja? Usually, the party has always used the Eagle Square. Does that status quo remain?
Yes, we will be using the Eagles Square certainly because that is the venue that can accommodate the size of the delegates we are expecting at the convention, except otherwise, my plan is to go and secure the Eagle Square so that the convention can be peaceful, orderly and well organised. Like I said, considering the size and magnitude of the people we are expecting, the venue has been approved by the NEC in our last meeting. Even though they were not specific, Abuja was chosen as the venue of the convention. I think everybody should be expecting that the convention will hold at Eagle Square. I don’t think anything will stop us from applying for and using the Eagle Square. So, as a first choice, we are going for Eagle Square.
The national convention is the highest strata in the leadership and administration of your party. How are you going to execute the congresses before the convention?
We have about nine states across the nation to conduct our congresses from ward to the state convention, which will transit into our convention in about two weeks from the end of the state congresses. Be that as it may, it will not affect the planning and organisation of the national convention because that is a different organ on its own. Other committees will be set up by the NWC to go and supervise and conduct the congresses in the nine states, of which my own state, Adamawa is included. But whatever that happened as a fall-out of the congresses in those states, their excos can still come and participate in the national convention because some of them their term may not be expiring on that date. So, I don’t think organizing congresses in those states will have any effect or challenges in having the national convention. They are separate but can go pari-passu at the same time.
Elder Akinwonmi led the NEC meeting as the acting national chairman of the party. At the national convention, will it be the turn of Prince Uche Secondus to do that or will it still be Akinwonmi?
As it is today, Yemi Akinwonmi is the acting national chairman. Until the court rules in favour of Secondus, I think the status quo remains that it is elder Yemi Akinwonmi that will chair the convention. I think there is no ambiguity in that. It is normal with a big party like PDP which has a lot of members. It is not just big in size but in institutional capacity with all its organs functioning. That is why we didn’t have any headache when we went through the minor crisis weeks ago. The court has said Secondus should not be the national chairman for now until the substantive matter is heard and the Deputy National Chairman (South) steps in as provided in our constitution. So, I think whatever happens tomorrow, the constitution has made provision for it. I must tell you that even Secondus is in support of this convention and he will not do anything that will mar the organization of this convention because we all believe in our party, the PDP. We are all committed to it and we will do everything and put our hands on deck to ensure that we have a successful convention.
Who are those that want Prince Uche Secondus out?
I think it is not matter for discussion now. What is very important is that the NEC has empaneled a committee to organize one of the best and freest convention ever which we have ever had in the PDP. This will give birth to a more credible national working committee that will go and organize 2023 for the PDP. That is what Nigerians are waiting for and that is what we are all working for at the moment because 2023 is for us to take. We will not joke with it. We will do everything within our power to ensure that we pull ourselves together and we organize ourselves. What Nigerians expect is that we win the 2023 presidential election so that we continue to give them that purposeful and good governance that PDP is used to.
What exactly is the issue these aggrieved members have with Secondus that they wanted him out?
At the moment, Nigerians and PDP supporters are more concerned about what took place at the NEC meeting . We have empaneled a planning committee for the convention that will take place at the end of October. They are now waiting to see the outcome of the zoning committee to know who and who can run the affairs of our party. For those who are interested in the issue of Secondus and those who are not interested; I think that is not the concern of most of our supporters out there. What they are after is, what is this committee headed by myself give them at one of the best convention? I think what matters to me at the moment is to see that I pull all human resources that are in abundance in the PDP together and get those who run the affairs of the party. That is what a lot of people are interested in at the moment.
What about the aggrieved members of the party. What are the efforts being made to reconcile with them?
Of course, if you see the ingenuity with which we overcome the so-called crisis that engulfed the party within the last few weeks or months, we came out smoothly. There was never a time that we were not able to surmount the hurdles. Like I told you, we have institutional capacity in this party which cuts across members of different organs. From the governors’ forum, former governors forum, former ministers forum, the BoT, the national working committee itself and the abundance of supporters out there. They have stirred our thinking and that has made us to be very focused and we have done the needful by empaneling this committee that I’m chairing by the grace of God and the support of my colleagues, the NEC members and Nigerians out there. So, I think what will occupy me at the moment is to ensure that I give them the fairest and best convention ever conducted in the history of PDP in this country.
Do you think Nigerians want your party to return to power at the national level?
I think at the moment, you can choose between the wrong and the right. The right thing to do is to go with the PDP. That is the party Nigerians believe in. It is the party that has given them the right thing that they deserve. I think we have steered the affairs of this country differently from what is happening today. So, the PDP is on top gear to make sure that we take over power in 2023. After all, APC is built around one person. APC is built around the capacity and integrity of Mr. President. That is all they have. He is not contesting in 2023, so he will not be able to use his integrity to bring in somebody. And more so, Nigerians are suffering.