Being address delivered by
Prof. Tunde Adeniran OFR, KJW, FCPA
after his confirmation as substantive National Chairman of Social Democratic Party (SDP), by the National Executive Committee (NEC) on Thursday, 22 August, 2019 at Chelsea Hotel, CBD, Abuja.
It is a great pleasure for me to address this august gathering of esteemed party leaders of our great party, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) on the momentous occasion of the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) which, by our Constitution, is the principal executing organ of the National Convention.
In the course of running its listed agenda, NEC, at its meeting today, among other things, in line with the provisions of the Constitution and without prejudice to the functions granted to other organs and bodies of the party as prescribed therein, performed its statutory responsibility and instituted a standing order approving my position as substantive National Chairman, having functioned in that capacity since the 11th day of February 2019 reliant upon the provision of Article 13.2 (ii).
I therefore consider today’s decision of NEC to approve my leadership position of the party as not only auspicious but strategic. It is consequent upon that formal approval that I am now statutorily empowered to function and operate fully as the National Leader of the Party and the Chief Executive Officer pending ratification by National Convention. This is importantly so because it is the instrumentality of this declaration that has officially established the legal framework upon I will stand, forthwith, to operate maximally without any let or hindrance and, with the collaboration of my colleagues in the National Working Committee (NWC), begin to unfold my development agenda and strategies which I believe (by the grace of Almighty God) will open new vista of growth for the party.
The strong foundation of this great Party was laid by Chief Oluyemi Falae, CFR, GCON, a towering Nigerian patriot and highly respected national leader who has made indelible mark on the sands of time; a man who is reputed to have lived above the fog in public and private thinking, a nationally and internationally acclaimed elder statesman from whom I took over the reins of leadership last February.
He is one leader that I have known and related closely with for several decades. In the intervening years of my coming in contact with him and now, I have developed high respect and admiration for him as a public figure of no mean repute, a self-assured man who stands true to his convictions, a strong and sound mind, a great thinker, first-rate technocrat, and an unblemished public officer, a gifted communicator, an conscientious leader and administrator extraordinaire, a great democrat and a complete gentleman in the true sense of the word who has earned tremendous national acclaim on account of the fecundity of his mind, courage of conviction and patriotic standing.
As a political Party dedicated to the promotion of integrity in leadership, good governance and value-adding service and one driven by the noble ideals and virtue of meritocracy, I stand up to the fact that the SDP eternally owes the former National Chairman a debt of gratitude and a duty to continue to appreciate him for his pioneering role and the height of great reckoning he grew the party to, through his firm, inclusive and effective leadership during his time as National Chairman.
Under my watch as National Chairman and, hopefully long after my tour of duty, the SDP family will continue to celebrate and accord him deserving regards and honour and will always reserve a special pride of place for him in the Party’s hall of fame for his pioneering role and the commendable personal sacrifices he made in building the party from the scratch and to have succeeded in bequeathing to us, a strong national political institution that has come to earn more than a passing recognition in the nation’s political space.
Esteemed party leaders, there is no denying the fact that I took over the reins of leadership of our great Party at a time of unease and manifest fracturing of its cohesiveness.
For record purposes and by way of clarification, it is important that I briefly touch on the Presidential ticket imbroglio that engulfed the party in the build-up to the 2019 general elections and the ensuing litigation and resultant polarization that undeniably impacted negatively on its electoral fortunes. You will all recall that we had a transparent and successful National Convention on 06 October 2018, which produced the former Cross River State Governor Donald Duke as the Party’s Presidential Candidate, beating four other contestants, including Prof. Jerry Gana who came second. But, very unfortunately, few days after the Convention, the party received the befuddling news that Prof. Gana, the runner-up who had at the declaration of result, openly hugged the winner, had rejected the result and was poised to challenge the emergence of Duke as the Candidate.
Upon the breaking of that sad news, the national leadership of the Party swiftly moved in to appeal to the esteemed Professor who, as a leading and inspiring figure, had all along been highly regarded by the Party to allow for the matter to be resolved amicably through a political solution. Chief Olu Falae, as National Chairman and leader of the Party, personally made concerted efforts by leading the national leadership on a number of visits to the home of Professor Gana, making him offers that the Party considered as reasonable, but all efforts at placating him was to no avail. He failed to accept the options thrown up by the Party’s in-house conflict resolution mechanism and, instead, went on to institute a suit against the Party, which was not necessarily to challenge Duke’s victory, but his eligibility to contest for the ticket in the first place. The Party thus began the legal battle which eventually dragged on up to the Supreme Court!
Sadly, that ill-advised litigation by Prof. Jerry Gana did not only eat deep into the finances of the Party, it weakened the Party’s capacity to effectively roll out its national campaigns to sell its Candidates to the electorate and brought down the morale of our enthusiastic supporters across the country. Regrettably, we were derailed and our members and Candidates across the country were thrown into a state of gloom. There is no arguing the fact that, as a Party, we apparently frittered away by ourselves the massive goodwill that had built up for us in the minds of Nigerian electorate ahead of the last general elections!
It was in the light of the above very destabilizing turn of events, going into the election that the NWC proactively stepped in to assess the situation.
The NWC considered the limited options available to the Party, especially with regard to the presidential and, considering that the litigation had boxed the Party to a tight corner, it painstakingly weighed the options left for the Party in view of the fact that it was a few weeks to the election. It eventually came up with a well thought-out recommendation to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of Thursday 07 February 2019.
The NWC, through an Executive Memo, presented its recommendation in the foregoing regard, to NEC that it would be a politically correct decision for the Party to endorse and adopt President Muhammadu Buhari and work for his re-election. The recommendation was taken and subjected to thorough deliberations. It was eventually unanimously passed, thus making President Buhari the adopted Candidate of the SDP for the March 2019 Presidential election. The Party, on account of that resolution, went on to mobilize its structures across the country for the President in that epic election.
Mindful of the high expectations of Nigerians from our great party, and being a focused and forward-looking party, we have put past disagreements behind us and resolved to unite everybody and march together into a glorious future that lies ahead as a united family through complementary and mutually reinforcing solidarity to make our beloved party stronger as we all desire.
By way of repositioning the party, we at the national headquarters have reviewed the journey so far, especially from February 2019 till date, and set new electoral targets for the Party and we are already working assiduously with a strong sense of duty and a consuming passion for goal attainment.
In the light of the foregoing we will, in the weeks and months ahead, be taking some bold and strategic steps to enable us rebuild the party into a cohesive political family, re-ignite our hopes and aspirations and transform it into a wholesome political organization in nature, essence and in character – one guided by its noble ideology and the fundamental democratic principles of internal democracy, equity and fairness, transparency and accountability.
In achieving that, the national leadership, by way of living up to its responsibility, has set in motion the process of re-inventing and repositioning the party as a robust and ideologically-driven political institution that is strategically positioned to attain its manifest destiny in Nigeria’s political firmament.
We are very conscious of the relatively weak structures of the Party in some states which generally led to the unimpressive level of performance we recorded in such states in the last general elections as well as the challenge of proven dual loyalty of some members across board. As such, we are fine-tuning and firming up arrangements to overhaul, re-organize and strengthen the structures and organs of the Party at all levels to attune its administration to the imperatives of the times. We wills strongly enforce discipline but will not be impetuous in our actions.
I assure you all that my leadership will be committed to repositioning the party as a veritable vehicle for the actualisation of political aspirations of patriotic and people-oriented Nigerians dedicated to national service. It will be underpinned by a culture of discipline, party supremacy, rule of law, integrity, accountability, effectiveness, efficiency, broad-based participation and consensus-building, innovative governance, the advancement of the common good of members and the consolidation of democracy in our dear country.
I have a strong conviction that with the kind of heartening enthusiasm, renewed vigour, commitment and great hope which this NEC meeting has engendered and imbued everyone with, the will in no small measure impact and help us to speedily rebrand and retool the Party and move it to the next phase of growth and institutional stability. As we have interactively deliberated the agenda of the day and interrogated the listed items with open minds, I urge every one of you to move on to your states and begin to engage with the various re-engineering and revamping processes which we have mapped out and outlined to strengthen the Party at all levels.
As key stakeholders, we must all be mindful that we owe it to ourselves and the nation to make the SDP bounce back very strongly and for it to occupy a very respectable position in our polity and quest for sustainable development.
All of us gathered here today, I believe, are committed patriots and, as a collective, we possess the capacity that can successfully deliver the transformative change that we desire to see happen in the party if we make up our mind to work hard and synergize with a high sense of purpose and if we all resolve to have our hands on the deck.
I urge you to always remember that we are all stakeholders in the Party and, as a people determined to keep a date with history, I have a strong conviction that we can, in no time, achieve the much desired repositioning of the party into a frontline status despite the constraints of immense dimension that have assailed us.
Esteemed party leaders, I wish to assure you again that the national leadership is made up of men and women of will and character and, under my watch as National Chairman, we will not get distracted from the glorious goal that we have set for the SDP. On my honour, I promise you that I will continue to work very closely with all the members of the NWC and the NEC and I am fully committed to providing the essential effective leadership for goal attainment. I therefore charge all of you to partner with me to simplify the task ahead of us and make it achievable. Characteristic of me, my doors are always wide open to all. I look forward to receiving good ideas and suggestions from you to move the party forward. Be assured that I will be responsive and will always act conscientiously. I urge you to also provide effective leadership at your own levels and be the positive change you desire to see.
As a focused party that has its eyes on the ball, if we all sincerely commit to fixing the cracks that appear on the walls and are prepared to walk and work together in unison, we will surely reposition the party. For the avoidance of doubt, the party’s Mobilisation and Reconciliation Committees are still at work and the party’s doors are open to those who believe in its ideology, Directive Principle, Manifesto, and Fundamental objectives. Together, we shall make progress and this country will be great. I have no doubt whatsoever that we shall succeed in building the party to a desirable lofty height. A great future is indeed guaranteed. So help us God!
My warm regards and the very best wishes to you all as you return safely to your respective states to resume, with great vigour, the repositioning of the party.
May God bless the SDP!
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!