A silient political war is brewing between the presidency and the 24 governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the choice of the next PDP chairman. A new chairman of the party is expected to be elected alongside other National Working Committee members of the party on March 24.
A source revealed to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that the governors, led by Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, are to meet this week with the objective of narrowing down on a candidate of their own for the chairmanship slot.
LEADERSHIP SUNDAY gathered that, following the fallout of the last National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the party at its Wadata Plaza national headquarters, where the governors were engaged in a war of words over what they termed the plan of the party to whittle down their powers.
While this may be the remote reason for the attempt by the presidency and other chieftains of the party to enthrone the next PDP chairman, the root cause of their action, sources said, is linked to the governors’ fear of being totally weakened if they allowed a surrogate of the presidency or party chieftains to take the number one seat at the Wadata Plaza.
Though the presidency has not made it open, there are feelers that it may have thrown its weight behind the candidature of Alhaji. Bamanga Tukur, following the calibre of the party’s chieftains that are said to have endorsed him, just as some candidates like Senator Paul Wampana were said to have been pressured from ‘high quarters’ to step down their ambitions.
The power play between The presidency and National Assembly members on one hand and the governors on the other may have intensified after last Wednesday’s NEC meeting of the party.
Hell was let loose as the governors engaged members of the National Assembly in a war of words over the Constitution Review Committee (CRC) report of the party that was adopted.
Following a motion for the adoption of the reports and recommendations of the CRC, former national chairman of PDP Senator Barnabas Gemade, had moved for the adoption of the Chief Olusola Oke-led CRC. An aspect of the report was on the expansion of the NEC’s membership, which did not go down well with the governors who felt intimidated and suspected that the intent of the proposed amendment was to weaken them.
If the PDP NEC is enlarged, the PDP governors would only be represented by their number, initially 24 until the removal of the Kebbi State governor Gov. Dakingyari, while the National Assembly, apart from the principal officers, would be represented by no fewer than 60 members from both chambers, bringing the total membership of the National Assembly to 72.
A senator is expected to represent each state, while three members of the House of Representatives from the six geopolitical zones are to become members of NEC. What this means is that the powers in the NEC as regards decision making would be immediately pulled off from the hands of the governors.
Chairman of the PDP Governors and chairman of the Nigeria Governors' Forum, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, alongside the governors of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio; Enugu, Sullivan Chime; and Adamawa, Muritala Nyako, opposed the planned expansion Amaechi added that if this became the case the governors might have a rethink on their continued allegiance to the PDP, provoking Senate President David Mark to call him to order.
President Goodluck Jonathan had at the meeting called for a truce, directing that a further meeting on the constitution review should reconvene at the Presidential Villa.
A committee made up of six governors, six members of the National Assembly (three each from the Senate and House of Representatives), former Board of Trustees chairmen, Chief Anthony Anenih and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, three state chairmen and three former state chairmen was then formed. The governors had always had their way on the chairmanship since President Obasanjo handed over.
In March 8,2008, all eyes were on the Eagle Square, Abuja, where no fewer than 15,000 party men and women, including loyalists, had gathered to elect a new chairman as well as other members of the National Working Committee, NWC.
The late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua had ridden into the venue insisting that elections took place. The leading constants were Senator Anyim Pius Anyim and former governor of Ebonyi State Dr. Sam Egwu, who were at loggerheads as to who got the nod to become the party’s chairman. Intense rivalry between the camps of the duo made it impossible for either to see the exalted office of the PDP.
But in a swift move, just after Yar’Adua left to attend the funeral of the late Emir of Katsina, it was conveyed to him that the "governors" made a choice of Prince Vincent Ogbulafor. Also, it was the Governors Forum that moved against Ogbuolafor and presented his successor, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo
While the governors are said to be using age as their main grouse with Bamanga Tukur, the truth according to our source, remains that they are afraid of losing powers at the NEC of the party.