By Jide Ajani, Dayo Benson, political editor, Wole Mosadomi, Tony Nyong, George Onah and Esther Onyegbula, Emma Ujah & Henry Umoru
ABUJA â€”A CLOUD of uncertainty lingered in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, as the party unceremoniously postponed indefinitely its Board of Trustees, BoT meeting which was slated for last night.
This came barely 24 hours after the Party cancelled its National Executive Committee, NEC meeting.
There were also strong indications, yesterday, that intense lobbying might have caused the Party to postpone its final selection of a replacement for its out-gone National Chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor.
The BOT postponement, it was learnt, might not be unconnected with late invitation which most members complained about.
Most of the members claimed that they received their invitations via text message yesterday morning.
However, the development came as a surprise as some of the members were already in Abuja, with others on the way to the capital city before it was announced.
Some were not aware of the cancellation until Vanguard called to ask for their reactions.
The cancellation was contained in a three paragraph statement by the partyâ€™s National Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, just as he said a new date would be communicated to all members in due course.
The statement said: â€œThis is to inform all concerned that the meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, earlier scheduled for Monday, 24 May, 2010 has been postponed.
â€œA new date shall be communicated to all members in due course. The PDP regrets the inconvenience caused to members of the BOT by this postponement and looks forward to welcoming them as soon as the new date is announced.â€
Vanguard gathered that the meeting was put off after series of meetings President Goodluck Jonathan had with some members of the party when he got security report that it was going to be turbulent if held as some northern PDP stalwarts were prepared to give it to the BoT chairman and former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Intense lobbying stalls selection
There were strong indications, yesterday, that intense lobbying might have caused the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to postpone its final selection of a replacement for its out-gone National Chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor.
Meantime, a fierce debate has been generated by the report that PDP may jettison the zoning arrangement allegedly put in place at the commencement of the current democratic dispensation.
While Senator Dairu Awaisu Kuta has spoken glowingly in support of zoning, Akwa Ibom Stateâ€™s Deputy Governor, Engr. Patrick Ekpotu, described the zoning system as â€œan evil methodâ€ but added that it has made Nigeria stable.
Though the possible absence of President Goodluck Jonathan who is billed to travel out of the country was being touted as reason for the postponement of the partyâ€™s National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting, Vanguard can reveal that the profuse nature of lobbying going on by top contenders played a key role in the postponement.
Of the four key contenders – founding National Secretary of the party, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo; former National Vice Chairman, South East, Chief Ozi Chukwu; Reconciliation Committee Chairman, Senator Ike Nwachukwu; and Chief Bernard Eze -Â Vanguard learnt that those in support of each continue to pile immense pressure on members of the partyâ€™s NEC.
Vanguard was informed that the South East state governors, after their deliberation last week in Abuja, might have settled for the candidacy of Nwodo. However, it is the NEC of the party that would take the final decision on who would replace Ogbulafor.
Senator Kuta supports zoning
Senator Dairu Awaisu Kuta, yesterday, spoke glowingly in support of zoning as upheld by the PDP, but noted, however, that it should be rigid or enshrined in the constitution of the country.
Senator Kuta who was answering questions during a Forum with the state correspondents chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, in Minna, Niger State said: â€œI believe in zoning but it should remain like this without being enshrined in the constitution of the country and it should not be made rigid. It should be left to different political parties to decide.â€
Zoning stabilised Nigeriaâ€“ Ekpotu
Akwa Ibom State Deputy Governor, Engr. Patrick Ekpotu, yesterday, described the zoning system as an evil method that stabilized the nation and helped to resolve some critical problems the nation would have been faced with, even as the arrangement appeared undemocratic.
Ekpotu who was of the opinion that the nation did not need to be rigid said it was not what Nigeria as a nation needed in the current political phase of the country.