By Sam Oditah
A national chairmanship aspirant of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Raymond Dokpesi, said PDP governors had crucial roles to play at Saturday’s national convention of the party.
Dokpesi said on Tuesday night, while addressing members of the party in Abia at its secretariat in Umuahia, that as leaders of the party in their states, the governors exercised reasonable control of the party’s machinery.
He said that the governors remained the leaders in their respective states and should be accorded the right to play prominent role in the party as was customary in the past.
The aspirant commended the governors for their strong belief in PDP and for sustaining the party since it lost the 2015 election, and promised to work with them, if elected.
He decried the formation of different groups of former political office holders, including the former governors’ forum and former ministers’ forum.
He said that such unconstitutional bodies should not be allowed to hold sway in the party.
In fact, Dokpesi alleged that the former governors were responsible for the electoral misfortune suffered by the party in the 2015 presidential election, when it lost to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said: “The former governors were the cause of the problem we are going through today.
“While they were in office, they urinated on our heads.”
He appealed to the Abia delegates to vote en masse for him, saying that if he became chairman, the position of the party’s presidential running-mate would automatically be zoned to the South-East.
“As the chairman of the party, the position of the vice president for the South-East in 2019 is non-negotiable,” he said.
Dokpesi cited “the imposition of candidates, impunity and lack of respect for zoning” as part of the problems that bedeviled PDP before the 2015 polls.
He promised to return power to the people, and assured that justice, equity and fairness prevailed in the party, if elected.
He said that the past leadership of the party failed to uphold the ideals of the founding fathers, leading to their abandoning the party they formed and nurtured.
Dokpesi stated that he would restore the party to the path of glory, adding that he would “reposition, rebuild and rejuvenate PDP to win the 2019 presidential poll.
He admonished the delegates to vote wisely at the convention, saying, “losing the 2019 presidential election would be a total disaster for PDP, but God forbid.”
Speaking later in an interview with newsmen, Dokpesi said that during the last general elections, some of the former governors “abandoned PDP and could not deliver the party in their states.”
“The time we were having elections in 2015, a lot of governors, who have the responsibility to deliver the party, went into prayers. They abandoned PDP,” he said.
He said that contrary to the criticisms against PDP by the ruling APC, it had done a lot toward the development of Nigeria.
Dokpesi, who is facing corruption charges, in respect of Dasuki’s alleged arms deal, declined comments on the matter, on the ground that it was in court.
He threatened to sue the Federal Government for damages.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the party in the state, Chief Johnson Onuigbo, in his response, assured Dokpesi of total support from Abia delegates.
Onuigbo extolled Dokpesi’s immense contributions to the development and growth of PDP, saying that he had paid his dues and was eminently qualified to lead the party.
He specifically recalled how Dokpesi deployed his mass media outfits, the African Independent Television and Ray Power, in projecting the activities of the party during the 2015 general elections, within and beyond Nigeria.