By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Momentous days for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP commence today with a meeting of the board of trustees of the party.Today’s meeting is to precede Thursday’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting where crucial decisions on the soul and direction of the party would be taken.
The NEC meeting would first ratify acting appointments made into the party’s national working committee following vacancies arising from resignations and appointments into the Federal Executive Council, FEC. Significantly, the NEC is also expected to fix a date for an early national convention of the party where a new set of substantive officers to direct the affairs of the party for another four years are expected to be chosen.
Among the vacancies to be filled at the Thursday crucial meeting are the positions of Chairman, Secretary, National Auditor and National Youth Leader.
The nominations for the positions expected to be ratified by the NEC are that of the National Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje to become the Acting National Chairman; the Deputy National Secretary, Dr. Musa Babayo as the Acting National Secretary, the Deputy Auditor Alhaji Garba Chiza Umar as National Auditor; and the Deputy Youth Leader Elder Bolaji Anani as National Youth Leader.
The NEC would also, in line with the PDP policy of zoning apportion the different offices to the different geo-political zones of the country. Already, two of the offices those of the National Chairman and National Secretary, have been zoned to the Northeast and the Southwest respectively.
It is as such not surprising that jostling for the position of the National Chairman is already gathering momentum with a number of candidates indicating interest.
Among those believed to be in the contest are Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, (Tafidan Adamawa) Senator Jibril Aminu, Alhaji Hassan Adamu, (Wakili Adamawa) all from Adamawa State; Dr Shettima Mustafa from Borno State and Ambassador Idris Waziri from Taraba State. Alhaji Adamu Muazu from Bauchi and Alhaji Gambo Lawan from Borno are also believed to be in contention for the office.
The trio from Adamawa State were among the first men believed to have shown interest. Their interest remarkably was immediately opposed by the Adamawa State government which remarkably is believed to be now promoting a candidate from outside the state.
Beside the opposition of the Adamawa State government, the Adamawa trio are also contending with the public unease about their ages. All three are in their mid seventies. The public unease is on how any one of them would be able to contend with the hectic schedule of the National Chairman of the PDP.
For a normal party not used to controversies and intrigues as the PDP is, the demand on a National Chairman would be enough to stress any septuagenarian. But tackling the unending intrigues and controversies that are characteristic of the PDP would be a challenge even for a youthful man.
Col. Ahamdu Ali (rtd) who steered the PDP towards the do or die presidential victory of 2007 left office in his early seventies but then assumed office before 70.
Besides the issue of age, previous positions occupied by the different contending blocs within the Northeast is already seeping in as an issue for consideration.
The three blocs in the zone are the defunct Gongola zone comprising Adamawa and Taraba States; the old Bauchi zone comprising the present Bauchi and Gombe States and the old Borno comprising the present Borno and Yobe States. All but the Borno region are presently controlled by the PDP. Borno and Yobe are both controlled by the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP.
One of the considerations being weighed within the party is the desirability of allowing someone from outside the PDP controlled states to attain the position of National Chairman. If such a suggestion gains ground it would be Lawan pitched against the experience and stature of Dr. Shetimma, the former Minister of Agriculture and first National Treasurer of the party who, even though not known in the business world has been in politics all his life.
Remarkably, all the contenders from states governed by the PDP with the notable exception of Ambassador Waziri are known to be opposed by their Governors. A senior official of the Taraba State government contacted at the weekend could not give an indication on the inclination of the government on Waziri.
The old Gongola axis between 1999 and 2007 held the office of Vice-President through Atiku Abubakar and now hold the position of Vice-National Chairman through the person of Senator Paul Wampama. Interestingly both Atiku and Wampama are from the present Adamawa State. The zone also briefly held the position of Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives through Babangida Nguroje between June 2007 and October 2007.
The Bauchi/Gombe axis held the office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF) through Alhaji Yayale Ahmed between 2008 and 2011 and Deputy Speaker House of Representatives through Usman Nafada (Gombe) between 2007 and 2011.
The Old Borno zone has on its part only held the position of SGF through Ambassador Babagana Kingibe between 2007 and 2008.
Borno State which has lately shown promise of crossing over to the political mainstream, still has an ANPP Governor despite an impressive showing by the PDP during the National Assembly elections. The PDP won two of the three Senate seats and made an impressive showing in the House of Representatives contests.
Today’s meeting of the PDP NEC is expected to set the ball rolling for a wave of political activities that would ultimately project the country’s dominant political party into its next phase in life.