The Social Democratic Party (SDP) has rolled out conditions for admitting intending Nigerians seeking to vie for elective positions on the platform of the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.
According to the Acting National Chairman of the party, Chief Supo Shonibare, intending aspirants will be subjected to integrity screening.
Shonibare said those who fail the test would not be allowed to carry the flag of the party, as SDP is not meant for politicians with baggages.
Speaking at the World Press Conference held in Abuja, he said, the leadership of the party does not want the party “to be an opportunistic vehicle.
He however said the party would be made available to people who have been unjustly denied by other parties.
He said, “definitely in instances where we’ve seen great injustices to an individual, who we feel that the individual is not coming to us with a baggage, yes that individual will be welcome to our party. But we won’t welcome anyone who we feel that has a case pending in court. We won’t welcome anyone who we feel that has been convicted even if the person is actually now appealing that conviction.
“So we will try to ensure that those who we will welcome into our party, are men and women of integrity and make SDP to be succor for those who have been wrongly dealt with in their political parties provided those who are coming themselves have displaced integrity and honour in the way and manner they themselves have conducted themselves in government.
“Because we want SDP to be an exemplary political vehicle that when people look at those who are leading and those who are elected or those who are our candidates, they’ll see those who have displayed integrity, honour, prudent management of our public resources when they were placed in a position to superintend over our resources. The next we will be looking at individuals who feel that they should come and join us in SDP. As we are saying we want SDP to be completely different from the APC ruling party and the former PDP ruling party. So in wanting to achieve that objective we cannot now be reinventing those two political parties in SDP.
“Although, there may be and there are several individuals in those two parties who have themselves behaved in a way and many that’s inconsistent with integrity, with having managed resources in a prudent manner whenever they have been asked to manage our resources. So, those who meet that bill will be welcome into SDP. We want SDP to be a rainbow coalition of several groups of Nigerians but those Nigerians must be Nigerians that have displayed a great deal of integrity in the way and manner that they have sought to superintendent over the resources of our country,” Chief Shonibare noted.
On the rumoured possibility of the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu contesting on the platform of the party, Shonibare said all the aspirants can collect the Nomination Forms from their States Chapters or from administrative centre in Abuja, adding that Nomination Forms have been provided to all those who have so far expressed interest.
“The issue of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the last time I checked, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is not a member of Social Democratic Party. I checked on the list because the membership list of our party as INEC has required, has already been submitted by our State Chapters to us in Abuja. And his name is not on the membership list of those who are members of our party in Lagos State. That’s all I can say on the leadership of SDP he’s not a member of SDP.”
While responding to question on the trending report on the Senator Tinubu’s plan to join SDP, he said: “If he (Tinubu) wants to join, then the party has to make a determination whether the way and manner he’s actually managed the resources of state from where he started is consistent with the profile of the integrity that we said that needs to displayed by anyone that is coming to us.
“Remember, I said that yes, we will welcome anyone who is not with us now, who feels they have been cheated in their political party. But then, in that process, we will look at that particular individual at that time. Then, you score.”
Shonibare also revealed that only two Aspirants (a man and woman) have so far obtained the Expression of Interest Form.
On the cost of the nomination forms, he disclosed that SDP resolved to put 30% of the costs fixed by other political parties in the bid to encourage massive participation of Nigerians including youths and women.
“What we had in mind in fixing what we are fixing for aspirants is the fact that we as political party is private donations, we are not run by public funds like several of those parties. We’ve looked at the cost of having agents in all the polling units of the federation and that has partly determined the cost of funds in our own party.
“I think on average is about a-third, it’s about 30% of all the other parties. The exact amount is on our website. For presidential candidates, it’s N18 million and N2 million for expression of interest form. It is free for women, women don’t pay for nomination forms and men who are under 30 don’t pay for nomination forms in SDP, because we are trying to encourage younger people who have excel in their own private enterprises, hence we want to encourage younger people to participate in politics,” Chief Shonibare said.
On the party leadership issue, the acting Chairman said “INEC is not the court of law so INEC cannot determine at the end of the day, which is the rightful leadership of the party. It is the constitution of the party, and the rules of the party and the determination of the court that will determine who is the legitimate leadership of the party.
“I said earlier that we were mindful of the jeopardy that the candidates will have may be drift, because at the end of the day it is the process of the leadership that the court acknowledges as the right leadership of the party. It is that process that INEC will oblige to accept like I said INEC is not a Court of law. It is set up to observe and issue guidelines for conduction of elections but it is not the place of INEC to determine when there is a contention within a political party to tell which is to be recognized or the leg not to recognize.
“In inviting INEC to event, that is an obligation under the Electoral Act; that is all that the political party needs to do. It is incumbent on INEC to either carry out its own responsibility under the law or not to do on the orders as been on the party itself to put INEC on notice on what they are doing, which I said we have done. So once you’ve done that, we have discharged our own responsibility in putting them on notice.”
While giving update on the lingering crisis rocking the party, he certain PDP members who joined SDP in 2018 led by Professor Jerry Gana met an existing body of elected officers of the Party, adding that the tenure of the officers elected during the SDP National Convention in 2016 had not expired.
“Although the newcomers tried to upstage the elected officers, it was clear that this was unachievable except by acquiescence or by a willful surrender. Following the attempt of the newcomers to appoint a parallel Executive, there has been a protracted lawsuit in which the party and its existing elected officers sued the newcomers’ faction led by Professor Tunde Adeniran, although it is now said that his position has been taken over by either Dr. Olu Agunloye or Alhaji Shehu Gabam. None of them has ever been elected to any position in the SDP.
“Bearing in mind the election guidelines rolled out by INEC. Following the intervention of several well-meaning nationalist leaders, we offered to joint process the screening of aspirants for the party’s primaries.
“Unfortunately the matter has dragged on in court even as there is widespread anxiety because of INEC’s political timetable for the 2023 elections. As the founding Leaders of the Party before the 2018 influx of the newcomers (who displayed open sympathies for the ruling administration), we were mindful of our Party’s underlying objective, namely to establish it as a popular party for good governance.
“That awareness meant that we had the insight to seek to separate the contentious issue of the legitimate leadership of the Social Democratic Party and of its registered Constitution, from the issue of the candidates of the Party. That is because we hold the view that candidates ought not to be put in jeopardy as a consequence of parallel processes.
“But the interlopers have shunned all entreaties to protect the interests of the party’s candidates. This is due to the fact that they have been buoyed by the open partisanship of certain officers of INEC, particularly Mr. Aminu Idris of its National Directorate for Elections and Party Monitoring. It should be noted that this meddlesomeness of INEC is in total disregard of an order of the Federal High Court and of course its own undertaking to the Court to remain neutral between the parties.”
While reiterating the resolve of the Party’s leadership towards ensuring that sanity is restored, Chief Shonibare said: “We have every reason to fear the conspiracy (of which some elements in INEC appear to be a part) by those who were never elected and came to join us in 2018, the purpose of which is to forcibly hijack our Party. The ultimate goal of this conspiracy is to make the SDP ineffective or ineffectual in the contest for power and render it an ally of the lacklustre ruling regime.
“We shall resist the machinations of these burgeoning usurpers. We enjoin all Nigerians to join the SDP. In this resolve we particularly enjoin the youth, the professional classes, trade associations and our beleaguered student population to enlist en masse to free our country from the shackles of rudderlessness and incompetence.”
He also urged all intending members will be able to join online as we position the Social Democratic Party as the party of choice for bringing about true change and taking Nigeria away from the shenanigans of the APC and PDP – parties loathed by most Nigerians and seen as two sides of the same coin.