• Sunday, May 26, 2024
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BusinessDay

PDP NEC meeting: Atiku, Wike, governors in supremacy battle

More defection hits PDP as Imo chair, 26 other defect

With the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) underway in Abuja, it is expected that the battle for the soul of the party between former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, current FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike and the governors of states controlled by the party will be intense.

The PDP’s stakeholders are battling to take over the reins of the party and position themselves ahead of the 2027 general election.

Observers are predicting that the outcome of the NEC’s meeting and how the leaders are able to resolve lingering issues could go a long way in shaping the party’s future and efforts to rebuild it ahead 2027 general election.

According to Section 31(1) of the party’s constitution, the NEC consists of over 100 members, including the party’s national chairman, who is also the chairman of the NEC; the president and vice president who are members of the party; the chairman and secretary of the board of trustees (BoT); all other members of the BoT who shall have no voting rights; the principal officers of the Senate who are members of the party; and two senators from each of the geopolitical zones who are members of the party.

Others include: principal officers of the House of Representatives that are members of the party; three members from the House of Representatives from each geopolitical zone who are members of the party; all state governors who are members of the party; the national working committee members; all state chairmen; six ex-officio members, at least two of whom shall be women, elected from each of the six geopolitical zones; and all former national chairmen, deputy national chairmen, national secretaries, chairmen, and secretaries of the board of trustees who are still members of the party.

With the 2017 around the corner and off-cycle gubernatorial elections this year in Ondo and Edo States, reports show that governors elected on the platform of the party, especially those in their second terms, have formed a bloc to take over the reins of the party.

The governors currently elected under the platform of the party are Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri (Adamawa), Umo Eno (Akwa Ibom), Bala Muhammed (Bauchi), Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Sheriff Oborevwori (Delta), and Godwin Obaseki (Edo).

Others are Peter Mbah (Enugu), Ademola Adeleke (Osun), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Caleb Mutfwang (Plateau), Siminalayi Fubara (Rivers), Agbu Kefas (Taraba), and Dauda Lawal (Zamfara).

Among them, the Governor of Bauchi State, the chairman of the forum, and those of Adamawa, Bayelsa, Edo, and Oyo are in their second term, with the Edo State governor leaving office later this year.

The governors are said to be planning on how to take control ahead of 2027, while a few of them remain undecided.

There are reports that some governors were tired and frustrated with the division and the endless fight between the Atiku and Wike camps, and are working on an independent outcome, if possible, to redirect the party going forward.

Meanwhile, there are those who say that the governors were not taking an altruistic position in the battle but plotting to position one of them as the candidate of the party for the 2027 general elections, thus handing over the structure of the party to either the former vice president or the FCT minister will not favour their permutations.

For now, it is becoming clear for all to see that Atiku will still contest the 2027 presidential election, it is believed he thinks that putting his loyalists in critical positions within the NWC will go a long way to strengthening his hold within the party, at least until 2025, when the party is expected to have its convention.

For Wike, a former Rivers State governor, who is serving in an APC government, political watchers believe that he is still fighting for the control of the party’s stricture as bargaining chip with the APC ahead of the 2027 election and that he would therefore, do all he can to hold on to the current NWC of the party believed to be his loyalists.

Meanwhile, it was gathered that many of the governors are working to present a candidate they feel will either do their bidding or have what it takes to reorganise the party, the inability of many of them to come together and present a common front is hampering their efforts.

Insiders reveal that the governors want to have control of the party. Because, apart from the fact that they don’t want to be seen as supporting either Atiku or Wike, many of them feel that if anything happens, they will be the ones to lose out.

As the NEC meeting holds today, the PDP Governors’ Forum is also divided over the position of the acting chairman, Umar Damagum, with some of them wanting him to stay on because of the forthcoming elections in Edo and Ondo states.

But after its closed-door meeting, the chairman of the forum and governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, said the issues in the party are being resolved, adding that actions would be inline with the party constitution.

“So, we are not here to discuss about a change of leadership,” he said.

Mohammed, dispelled speculations that there are contending forces, including the governors in the party.

“NEC will take decisions on issues, not the governors. I know the governors normally take the leadership position, but we have an acting person leading the party, and NEC will decide whether it is time to fill the vacancy, looking at the legal implications of doing that.”

In the communiqué after the meeting read to journalists, the governors called on the NWC of the party to set in motion the machinery to conduct credible congresses in all the states where the tenures of party officers have expired.

Among those present apart from the chairman of the forum were governors of Rivers, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, and Delta, as well as deputy governors of Edo and Enugu.

After the meeting, it was gathered that the current NWC and some of the party members loyal to the FCT minister have been mobilising for the acting chairman, Damagum, to retain his seat.

There are reports that the Wike group is afraid of new national chairman is because whoever comes in will be saddled with the responsibility of reorganising the party, which will include the suspension of those who openly worked against the party in the last election.

This is just as the National Working Committee of the party passed a vote of confidence in Damagum, which is geared towards ensuring that he is confirmed as substantive national chairman or at least continue in his role as acting national chairman of the party.

Debo Ologunagba, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, said in a statement that the decision of the NWC, which came at the end of the 584th meeting at the party’s national secretariat on Tuesday, was in commendation of the efforts and commitment of the acting national chairman to stabilise and reposition the PDP as the main opposition party in Nigeria.

Ologunagba also said that the NWC also assured of its commitment to ensuring the continued stability, growth, and success of the party at all times.

However, this is against the desire of those loyal to Atiku, who are actively working to make sure that a new national chairman comes in as soon as possible to kick-start the reorganisation of the party ahead of the next elections.

It was gathered that the Atiku camp did not have faith in the present leadership of the party to be fair and equitable in dealing with party members across the board.

Atiku and his camp are still reportedly insisting that those who sabotaged the party at the last election should be punished to serve as a deterrent to others in the future.

Meanwhile, the PDP North Central Caucus, after its meeting yesterday, unanimously resolved that the zone must produce the next national chairman of the party to complete the tenure of the former National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu.

The zone vowed that they would not allow plans by some interest groups in the party to sidestep the constitution and perpetuate Damagum, who is from the North East, in office.