PDP convention: Prospects of what democracy could look like – Civil society leaders

Chido Onumah

Chido Onumah

Civil society leaders have commended the conduct of the national convention of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which held on Saturday in Abuja.

The convention elected a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, to fly the party’s flag in the 2023 presidential election.

Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, and a Director at the Open Society Foundations, Ayisha Osori, gave the commendation Sunday when they appeared on the online interview programme, 90MinutesAfrica, hosted by Rudolf Okonkwo and Chido Onumah.

Osori said that despite the alleged role of money in influencing the choices made by the delegates, there were few factors that affected the outcome of the convention, which the political process could benefit from.

“Despite what we know about how delegates were selected and what influenced delegates, I think part of what we saw at the convention was actually a bit of what democracy could look like,” Osori said. She cited the example of how the voting process was organised in a way that it was impossible to determine how the delegates from each state voted.

“Instead of having ballot boxes arranged according to states, there was just one major box for the votes of all the delegates. This was a game changer. It ensured that it was difficult to know how the delegates voted,” she noted.

Samson Itodo, Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, said the PDP should replicate what happened at the National Convention across the states in future elections.

“It is good to see that at the national level, the PDP is getting accustomed to a well organised, well choreographed party primary unlike what we had at the subnational levels that was very disruptive and violent,” Itodo said.

“It looks like the party has gotten its act together with respect to organisation and logistics. Twenty-four hours to the primary, the venue was well organised with seats for delegates and the cubicles in place. In terms of organisation, I will give the party a pass mark,” Itodo added.

He praised the party for making efforts to include persons living with disability as part of delegates, describing it as a “positive development.”

On the ruling party’s preparation for its presidential primary, Itodo expressed doubt about the desire of the APC to conduct a primary to elect its presidential candidate.

“The APC have yet to conduct screening for their presidential aspirants. They have been shifting the goalpost. No one has any information as to when they will be screened and that is disturbing,” Itodo observed.

“Everything the party is doing is just laying the ground for a consensus. I don’t think the party wants to conduct any primary. They just want to adopt a sole candidate for the presidential election. But if they do so without conformity to the provisions of the law, then I suspect there might be an implosion very soon within the party.”

The APC has already rescheduled its presidential primary to June 6-7 following the one-week extension given to political parties by INEC to conclude their primaries and submit the names of the candidates for different positions.

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