As the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting holds this week, lobbying and consultations among party leaders have intensified ahead of the national convention holding in October this year.
Barring any last minute changes, the NEC meeting is poised to hold on Thursday. The meeting will, among other things, ratify the conduct of the party’s national convention, unveil members of the committee as well as constitute a Zoning Committee for Party Offices and another Committee for National Elective Offices.
LEADERSHIP Sunday recalls that the expanded PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) meeting, chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, had revealed that all processes leading to an early national convention in October be immediately activated by relevant party organs, especially National Executive Committee (NEC).
“The meeting requested the NEC to immediately constitute a Zoning Committee for Party Offices and another Committee for National Elective Offices.”
Party sources revealed that consultations are still ongoing as to who will be the chairman of the convention committee.
A source said it will most likely be a governor in keeping with the tradition but it has to be “one that understands the workings of the party and has been critical to resolving the recent impasse between the national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, and the Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike.”
It was learnt that a governor from the North Central geopolitical zone and another from the South South might be considered to head the convention committee.
Also, consultations are still ongoing among power brokers on who should head the zoning committee considering the sensitive nature of the committee’s assignment.
LEADERSHIP Sunday learnt that the consultations are intensifying against the backdrop of the agitation for a southern presidency.
It was learnt that the recent declaration by southern governors that the presidency must be zoned to their region had heightened tension in the party.
Before the call by the southern governors, southern and middlebelt leaders had also asked for the presidency to be zoned to the region. They had also mandated APC and PDP members from the South not to accept national chairmanship positions and vice presidential slots.
But the agitation is being met by resistance from another power bloc which believes that under the party’s zoning arrangement, the presidential ticket should remain in the North despite the outcome of the 2019 election which produced President Muhammadu Buhari from the rival APC.
Members of the party, who argue that the party’s presidential ticket should remain in the North in 2023, said the region had not served its term under the party’s rotation arrangement.
It was also learnt that arguments are being made to ensure that persons who have presidential ambition in 2023 are not allowed to head the committee, or possibly be members of the committee, LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered yesterday.
“The tasks before these committees are very sensitive. The party cannot afford to allow persons with selfish interest to influence the way they should work. We just managed to come out of a crisis situation and we intend to build on that, not to regress,” another party source said.
A post-2019 election review panel headed by Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, had recommended that the party throw its ticket open to competent members.
While the recommendation drew a backlash from some regional groups, the national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, explained that the party had not taken a final position.
Attempts to get a reaction from Ologbondiyan were abortive as phone calls to his lines were not answered.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday on the issues in the PDP, a former deputy governor of Sokoto State, Muktar Shagari, said the party had the capacity to resolve all its crisis.
He also declared that before the end of this year or early next year, there will be mass defections between PDP and APC even though it does not portend well for democracy in Nigeria.
He said, “PDP has been the most dynamic political party in Nigeria today. Issues of defection from one party to another had become a tradition in the political setup of Nigeria today. Largely, I think, because of lack of ideology and lack of political principles, so seeing some governors moving from PDP to APC is simply nothing new because governors had also moved from APC to PDP; and do not forget the fact that APC itself is a collection of some, in that time, dissatisfied and disgruntled politicians who left PDP and moved to APC, and so it would not be surprising to me if before the end of this year or early next year we see APC governors, senators and politicians also moving into PDP.
“We still will still see politicians moving from PDP to APC from APC to PDP, so it has become part of our political tradition in this country, which is unfortunate because if you do not have stability of membership at political parties, that will simply affect our journey to absolute political culture in Nigeria. I think it’s important that we imbibe politics of principles, ideology, service to the nation and people rather than politics self-aggrandisement and satisfying self ego.
“The governors that moved from PDP to APC have given their reasons and Nigerians are not convinced by those reasons whatsoever. In my view, if there is a problem in your political party, you should stay in the party and resolve this problem so that democracy will be strengthened.
“Now, as for the leadership tussle in the PDP, there’s nothing strange or wrong about that because political power, whether within the party or national political power, you have to struggle for it, and in political party, there are always divergent interests within the party and each interest will try to see that it is the one in charge, so I’m not surprised about that but all I know all is that there is dynamism and experience within the PDP.”
Shagari expressed confidence that PDP governors will resolve to stay in the PDP and make sure that the party takes over power in 2023.