By Henry Umoru
ABUJA— The National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is expected to adopt a proposal, today, to amend the constitution of the party. This is to allow the president and governors on the ticket of the party serving the first term in office the right of first refusal to the party’s ticket for a second term.
The proposal, if adopted, would be tabled before the party’s special national convention holding next weekend in Abuja.
The NEC meeting is also expected to ratify the extension of the tenure of interim members of the National Working Committee, NWC, to the time of the convention. Their tenure was expected to expire last month when the convention was to take place, but was extended due to changes in the convention date.
The proposal for the right of first refusal otherwise known as automatic ticket, Vanguard learnt yesterday, is expected to come up at the NEC meeting. A member whose identity was not disclosed last night is expected to propose an amendment of the constitution that will allow the incumbent president and governors in their first terms to get the party’s ticket for a second term.
Automatic ticket possible for Jonathan, govs
If successfully adopted by the NEC, the proposal is expected to be tabled before the national convention coming up on August 31.
President Goodluck Jonathan could be the first to benefit from the privilege, if the proposal scales through the NEC today and the national convention.
Vanguard also gathered that some elders and stakeholders were caught unawares by the news of today’s meeting as many, including some members of the Board of Trustees, BoT, complained that they only read about the meeting on the pages of newspapers. Many promised that today’s meeting would be stormy.
Chairman of the BoT, Chief Tony Anenih had at a meeting of party leaders from the South-South region in Asaba, last May, proposed the amendment of the constitution for the right of first refusal as, according to him, it would reduce rancour in the party. He also stressed that PDP must not subject the president to the party’s primary election.
Following that, Chief Anenih also at a dinner meeting called by President Jonathan in Abuja with select leaders of the party, reiterated the call.
“I do not see anything wrong if the PDP considers automatic tickets for the president and its governors who have performed well and are seeking a second term. It is my view that with the outstanding performance of President Jonathan in the areas of power, rail, and water, transformation, road construction, aviation reforms, education, agriculture, job creation, etc, the party should not find it difficult in granting him the opportunity to serve a second term if he so desires,” Anenih had said at the Asaba meeting.
Following opposition from some stakeholders, Anenih it was learnt, modified the suggestion to allow a first term president face a referendum where if he is approved will automatically become the party’s candidate but if disapproved would be subjected to a contest with other interested aspirants.
NWC, Anambra, Ekiti also top on agenda
Besides the proposal to amend the constitution, the NEC meeting is expected to ratify the extension of the tenure of the interim NWC. The ratification of the extension of the tenure of the NWC it was learnt yesterday is expected to help the party escape the legal trap of an annulment of the convention and block inferences that the convention was organized by an illegal NWC.
NEC is also expected to deliberate on the work of the Governor Seriake Dickson Reconciliation Committee.
NEC will also strategize on the August 24 Primary election in Anambra State and preparations for the governorship election in Ekiti State.
It will be recalled that NEC at its last meeting approved July 20 for the Special Convention but intrigues and other factors led to the postponement of the convention to August 31.
84 aspiratnts contest 18 positions in NEC
Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that 84 aspirants have picked forms to contest the vacant 18 positions in NEC, even as it emerged that the Minister of State, Ministry of Education, Nyesom Wike will be the leader of the Rivers State delegation to the convention.
Governor Chibuke Amaechi who was suspended by the party last May, it was learnt, was listed as number four on the delegates list from Rivers State against the tradition of governors leading their states’ delegations.
Wike leads Rivers delegation
According to the delegates list submitted by Chief Felix Obuah, the party chairman in Rivers State, the Acting Deputy National Chairman, Prince Chibudom Nwuche, is second on the list while, Obuah is listed as third on the list ahead of Governor Amaechi who is placed as fourth.
The custom in PDP controlled states had been for the governor who doubles as the leader of the party at the state level to lead the delegation of members to the PDP Convention.
However, following the power play in the party which led to removal of the Chief Godspower Ake-led state executive, Obuah, an ally of Wike was inaugurated as chairman of the party and has since been at war with the state administration.
It was also confirmed yesterday that Prince Uche Secondus; immediate past Deputy National Chairman, Jaja Sam Jaja; and Senator Stella Omu are among the six contesting for the office of Deputy National Chairman.
Contestants for the office of the National Secretary are former Minister of Transport, Chief Ebenezer Babatope; former Ondo State governorship aspirant, Olusola Oke; former Minister of Information, Chief Dapo Sarumi and former Minister of Education, Professor Tunde Adeniran.
The immediate past National Organising Secretary, Mustapha Abubakar will slug it out with the other aspirant for the position, Sidi Ibrahim Bamali.
Immediate past National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh; Chyna Iwuanyanwu; Anyanwu Longers Nzennata are among the 11 aspirants for the position of National Publicity Secretary, even as former National Woman Leader, Kema Chikwe will fight it out with 10 other aspirants for the position of National Woman leader.
The immediate past National Legal Adviser from Plateau State, Barrister Victor Kwon could be returned unopposed as no other person indicated interest in the position.
Also unopposed are Jalo Abdullahi Ibrahim (Deputy National Legal Adviser), Ullam Hanatu (deputy National Woman leader); Gwalabe Auwalu Abdu (Deputy National Financial Secretary) and Alhaji Lawal Anche (Deputy National Auditor).
Alhaji Garba Umar Chiza from Niger State who raised a stir following his election as National Youth Leader on account of reports that he is more than 60 years old is being challenged by four contestants.
Meanwhile, the immediate past National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh yesterday petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Aloma Mukhtar over alleged moves by some persons to frustrate him from returning through the courts.
In a petition, Metuh alleged that some elements were out to manipulate the judiciary as well as procure fraudulent court orders to stop him from contesting for the position of the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP in the August 31, 2013 PDP Special National Convention.
In the petition, Metuh prayed the CJN to intervene and stop the apparent abuse of court process, stressed that an aspirant for his former job has embarked on forum shopping and the use of surrogates as plaintiffs to a case that had been withdrawn in Abuja.
He said, “My Lord, this aspirant first of all commenced a suit at the Federal Capital Territory High Court (FCTHC) before Honourable Justice O.A Musa in Suit No CV/3788/2013. Using Surrogates as the Plaintiffs, he obtained an ex-parte order restraining me from contesting the election. When I sought to strike out the suit and indeed filed my processes to that effect, the counsel for the Plaintiffs quickly withdrew the Suit.
“Upon withdrawal of the suit, the same man who has had the ignoble practice of jumping from one political party to another in search of a platform to ‘contest’ election has now caused the same FCTHC suit (which has been struck out) with the same set of defendants but using another set of surrogates to be filed at the Anambra High Court sitting in Awka.
“This new Suit (in Awka, Anambra State is A/241/2013 between CHIEF ILOANYA and ANOR v. P.D.P & ORS) is ostensibly to have me disqualified from contesting the election for reasons that failed him in the previous Suit at the Abuja High Court. The said Sponsor has embarked on his usual boast that the high Court in Awka will seal my fate in the forthcoming election and that by the time a restraining Order is granted him on or before 29/8/13, it will be too late for me to set it aside.”
It is believed that those who wants Metuh out of the race seek to manipulate the judiciary after it became clear that he has the backing of the leaders of the party, the national caucus and stakeholders from the south east where the position has been zoned to apparently due to his performance while in office and his good relationship with party members across board.