The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said it opted for Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, ahead of other places for its national convention because it meets all the requirements needed to host over 4,000 delegates.
To arrive at its decision, the party said it set up a committee headed by Ambassador Ibrahim Kazaure to locate a good venue for the convention, adding that this became necessary since the “APC had fixed its own primary and convention for same date at Eagle Square.”
The explanation is on the heels of protests by some of the party’s presidential aspirants, who claimed the Port Harcourt venue was skewed to confer undue advantage to a particular aspirant.
The party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) had on Thursday resolved to change the venue of the October 5 and 6 presidential primaries to Abuja in response to the protests. The decision is however subject to approval by the National Working Committee. But, giving reasons why Port Harcourt should stand, the party explained that the Amb. Kazaure committee went round to look for a convenient venue taking into account hotels, flights and other logistics arrangements.
Although findings showed that the stadium in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State was very appropriate, the party stated that accommodation was a problem. The PDP stated: “if all hotels were to be empty, they will only be able to cater for 2,000 persons. And the delegates are over 4,000. The committee went to Enugu and discovered that the space there has no fencing, which makes it vulnerable since the exercise will run into the night.”It added: “The facility in Asaba, Delta State, also cannot withstand the number of persons. Hence the committee settled for Port Harcourt, which met all criteria.”
Beyond the logistics advantages that Port Harcourt provides, the PDP further stated that Rivers, being a state under its control is also appropriate “in the event the ruling APC tries to frustrate the presidential primaries.”Besides, it noted: “Port Harcourt has held similar convention and has enough facilities to withstand vehicular and transport requirement,” adding: “Flights to Enugu are minimal, flights to Uyo are also minimal. Asaba Airport is undergoing renovation and can only land smaller aircraft. Port Harcourt has a higher number of flights. These are some of the considerations.”
It will be recalled that Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, had during the week justified the selection of the Port Harcourt as congress venue, stating that it has all the hotels and sundry facilities and had enjoyed a flawless hosting of such event in the past.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that all the presidential aspirants were part of the decision that Port Harcourt should host the convention. One of the presidential aspirants, who chose to be anonymous because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said all the aspirants were present when the decision was taken. He said: “All the presidential aspirants were present when the decision to take Port Harcourt as the venue was taken. And they were asked if they had objection to the report of the committee, nobody opposed. These latest complaints are product of frustration by some aspirants.”