By EMMANUEL AZIKEN, POLITICAL EDITOr & HENRY UMORU
ABUJA—President Goodluck Jonathan and National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur have commenced moves to dilute the influence of the party’s governors on the National Executive Committee, NEC.
The NEC is the highest decision making organ of the party next to the national convention.
The president will today hold a crucial meeting with the Group of 84, otherwise known as G 84, comprising state party chairmen and some selected members of NEC.
At the meeting scheduled for 8 p.m. in the Presidential Villa, the president is expected to make a plea for support from the G.84, the crucial group through which the party’s governors have until now influenced affairs in the party.
The president’s meeting with the G 84 follows an interactive meeting last Tuesday between Tukur and 12 state chairmen of the party at the National Chairman’s Maitama, Abuja residence.
The 12 chairmen hosted by Tukur were principally from states controlled by opposition political parties.
The moves by Tukur and the president it was learnt, are aimed towards consolidating their hold on the NEC where the governors presently hold sway. Largely on account of the face-off between the governors on one hand and the president and the national chairman on the other. The party has not held a NEC meeting since last July against the constitution of the party which requires the NEC to meet at least quarterly.
At the Tuesday meeting Tukur was quoted as reiterating the need for unity, saying that the party must show its unity in the face of all odds. A source privy to the development disclosed that the state chairmen unflinchingly pledged loyalty to Tukur, a fact that was easy given that the chairmen present do not have incumbent PDP governors in their states to contend with them.
Today’s meeting between the G.84 and the president is expected to be even more crucial and dicey, given the influence the governors hold on the majority of the expected guests.
The G.84 members are usually only successful in getting elected to the NEC only through the influence of PDP governors who are almost unquestionable at the state level. Some of the guests, it was learnt, would also use the meeting with the president to also channel their grievances on the way they are marginalized by the National Working Committee, NWC, in party affairs and in the administration of patronages.
According to a source, “President Jonathan’s meeting with the G.84 members is crucial to the survival and politics of the party. The meeting which will take place at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa is expected to commence at 8 p.m.”
“The meeting is crucial because the governors normally dictate the affairs of the NEC meeting through the members of the G.84 that are the voting members of the NEC.”
The source added, “but recent developments in the party have dictated that the President meet these voting members of the NEC to solicit their support, especially in the forthcoming NEC meeting. It was through these NEC members that the PDP governors use to control the affairs of the party at NEC meeting.”
Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu, it was learnt, has also been elected to take over as the new chairman of the G.84. Mantu takes over from the former G.84 chairman, Alhaji Isa Tafida.
According to a source from the G.84, they will table before the President their neglect and other problems facing the group. The deputies are insisting that they should be part of the decision making of the party against the backdrop that after all, “we are all elected members.”
Another source said: “The party now recognizes that the state chairmen who constitute the single largest block in the NEC are pivotal to whatever policy issues that must succeed in the party and hence this move.”
At that meeting the state chairmen had taken position with the governors against Tukur in insisting on the recognition of the Umar Kugama-led executive in Adamawa State.
The state chairmen had in the communiqué of the meeting that took place penultimate Thursday had further resolved “that the conference expressed delight on the development in Adamawa State which saw to the re-instatement of the Kugama- led executive and appealed for continued fraternity on the part of members so as to further enhance the party’s internal cohesion.”