Written by kunle oderemi
Saturday, 03 March 2012
KUNLE ODEREMI reports on some untold stories concerning the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held last Wednesday in Abuja ahead of its national convention.
On February 20, 2012, some major stakeholders in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) converged at a location in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Their mission: to produce a possible consensus candidate among the legion of aspirants from the Northern part of the country for the position of PDP national chairman. The closed-door meeting was reportedly attended by five of the front-runners for the position.
According to a dependable source, those in attendance included Dr. Shetima Mustafa, Barrister Ibrahim Birma, Ambassador Hassan Adamu, Alhaji Gambo Lawan and Dr. Musa Babayo who are the contenders from Borno State. But after what was described as a marathon session, the leaders could not reach a compromise, as none of the aspirants was willing to step down and facilitate the process of evolving a consensus candidate. Rather, all of them were said to have resolved that they should be allowed to go to the field and face delegates to the party’s national convention coming up on March 24, 2012. Consequently, many of them have obtained nomination forms after paying the mandatory sum of N1 million into the coffers of PDP.
Of the five contestants that reportedly attended the meeting, three, including Dr. Mustapha, Senator Abba Aji and Architect Ibrahim Bunu, are from Borno Central, while Alhaji Gambo Lawan and Barrister Birma are from the Borno North and South Senatorial zones in that order. There are more contenders from states that make up the North-East zone: Borno, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe, with reports that they had obtained nomination forms.
Meanwhile, three days after the meeting that ended in a deadlock among the aspirants, members of the party’s top hierarchy met in the same city, with a slightly different agenda, but with all of the issues that engaged the PDP leaders bordering on pre-convention arrangements. At the end of PDP National Working Committee (NWC) meeting, the leaders announced the date for the convention, but were, for what an insider described as strategic reasons, silent on a proposed constitutional review that has continued to generate rumbling among some influential power blocs in the party. Saturday Tribune gathered that it was at the meeting that the leaders resolved to meet again on Wednesday this week, to ratify the ‘understanding’ initially reached among the stakeholders on the zoning of national offices. That understanding was reached last year.
A top party man told our correspondent that the meeting held on Wednesday was reportedly preceded by a caucus meeting on Tuesday and followed by the NWC meeting. The sources told our correspondent that the meeting held on Wednesday marked the gradual winding up of the activities of the party’s present national executives. It was also learnt that Obasanjo was inadvertently absent from the meeting because of his involvement in a number of international engagements. However, the sources said the leaders resolved to set up a committee to finetune plans to review some sections of the PDP Constitution. According to the sources, who were at the meeting, President Goodluck Jonathan is the head of the committee, with the National Assembly, PDP Governors’ Forum, among other influential party caucuses, having their representatives. In fact, the sources claimed that the governors and members of the National Assembly have six members each in the body. The aim of the amendment is to pave way for direct primaries and one single term for elected party officers, which is underscored by the need to reduce tension and acrimony often.
Meanwhile, the battle for another key position (national secretary) has peaked in the South-West. The exact number of aspirants that had paid for nomination forms could not be confirmed by the sources, but it was learnt that one of them included a former Lagos PDP State Secretary, Chief Tunde Daramola, and Professor Tunde Adeniran, who also reportedly obtained the form on Monday.
Meanwhile, some PDP leaders under, the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA)from the south-East might also declare their support for one of the candidates for the chairmanship position soon. It was said to be making a final arrangement to commence a phased publicity blitz for the candidate. The inability of the aspirants to reach an understanding for one of candidates among them has raised the tempo of lobby and horse-trading within the party and in government circles in states, where PDP is in control. One of them is Borno, where a group, called the Borno Youth Vanguard is leading the crusade. Its members are canvassing those contestants from Borno Central Senatorial Zone to step down. The organization claims that the balance of political power distribution in the state unduly favoured Borno Central at the expense of the North and South senatorial zones. A communiqué signed by BYV Chairman, Tujja A. Yerwa and the secretary, Mamman Idris Zaki and another prominent member, Ibrahim Haruna Ibsy, noted that five of the 12 aspirants campaigning for the position were from Borno State and bound to jeopardise the chance of the state at the convention.
To buttress its demand that the contestants from Borno Central should back down in the race, the body stated that the current state PDP Chairman and a serving minister were from that area, while the northern and southern senatorial zones have been marginalised. The body alleged that “since PDP has successfully used zoning for the distribution of national political offices and since the North-East is directly benefitting from this zoning arrangement and will produce the next national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party under this arrangement, it goes without saying that Borno State should also look at the balance of political power within the state and therefore also zoned the office for the sake of equity and justice. “The aspirants from Borno Central should recognise that their aspiration for the office of the national chairmanship is a direct outcome of the party’s zoning principle, without which they would most likely not be bidding to lead the party come March 24, 2012. The three aspirants from Borno Central should step down unconditionally so as to enable the state present only two candidates in the forthcoming convention. That these three aspirants should close ranks and work for the success of either of the two remaining candidates from Borno North and Borno South to ensure that the National Chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party is won by a person from Borno State.” Similarly, a group, Coalition of PDP Support Group (CPSG) recently backed Tukur, for the coveted position. It described him as the most suitable for the position. The Coordinator of, the body, Mallam Bello Eroyal, claimed that he had the pedigree to lead the party.
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