Less than four weeks to its national convention, major stakeholders in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have met to weigh the options on four chairmanship aspirants who have cases with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The leaders, which include some ex-governors, members of the Board of Trustees, ex-ministers, and state chairmen, were concerned that any national chairman with corruption case pending before a court or the anti-graft agency could be distracted from providing vibrant leadership.
They were considering whether or not to prevail on delegates to go for “candidates without investigative issues.”
They resolved last night to prevail on PDP leaders, governors and delegates to go for a “less controversial figure” like the All Progressives Congress (APC) did when it voted for Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
The aspirants with challenges are ex-Governors Rashidi Ladoja and Gbenga Daniel; High Chief Raymond Dokpesi and Prince Uche Secondus.
Two of the aspirants are presently on trial for alleged stealing of public funds, bribery, fraudulent conversion of public property and false declaration of assets; another was arraigned in connection with $2 billion arms cash from the Office of the National security Adviser while one is still under probe for allegedly receiving 23 choice vehicles from a business associate of ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
A top source at the session, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “The party has a dilemma at hand. Four of our good aspirants who can lead the party are having corruption-related cases in court or with EFCC.
“As a matter of fact, three of them have been arraigned in court. The fourth leader was detained by EFCC over how oil receipts were diverted to the purchase of 23 vehicles for him.
“We met to weigh the options because all these cases will certainly divert the attention of any of them from the core duties of coordinating the party.
“Some of the aspirants dismissed the corruption allegations as non-issues but the party will not be happy to see its chairman either going to jail or remanded in prison.
“We felt in politics, we must put all factors into consideration. But the aspirants are determined to take the risk because they have not been convicted.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “Our leaders are of the opinion that the reputation of the party is greater than that of any party leader or aspirant.
“The alternative is to go for any underdog with less issue. He who comes to equity must do so with clean hands. This is the time for frank talks. It is left for our governors and other organs of the party to buy into this option or not. We know that APC is waiting in the wing for our option.”