April 11, 2024

PDP NEC meeting: Govs, others renew battle for party’s soul


PDP and its colour flags

•Atiku’s ally, Secondus becomes first casualty as Wike shifts battle to judiciary
•Chairmanship, caretaker committees take centre stage

By John Alechenu

Abuja-Ahead of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s make or mar National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting scheduled for April 17 and 18, party stakeholders and power blocs have renewed their battle for control of the party structure.

As contending power blocs prominent among which are party stalwarts whose political interests align with that of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory,FCT, Nyesom Wike, and those of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, battle for supremacy, the stage appears set for a showdown.

Already, the pro-Wike camp has secured a court injunction barring Prince Uche Secondus, a former national chairman of the party and an Atiku ally from attending the NEC or any other PDP meeting, pending the determination of the substantive suit.
Feelers indicate that the Atiku camp has initiated moves to vacate the order. It was not immediately clear as at yesterday, whether the party leadership which was joined in the suit, has been served.

When contacted, National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, himself a trained lawyer, said: “I’m not in a position to say whether or not we’ve been served.

“I should be in a position to say that when we resume from the holidays next week. In any case, the litigant will be in a better position at this time to state whether service has been effected by producing evidence to prove his claim.”

Both Atiku and Wike’s camps are interested in how the agitation over the position of national chairman as well as the contention over the extension granted some ward, local government and state caretaker committees are resolved because their continued relevance in the party’s scheme of things depends on it.

Findings by Vanguard in Abuja, revealed that several governors, especially first termers, are displeased with what they considered an attempt by some of their predecessors to either retain or wrestle control of the party structure from them in their various states.

A highly placed member of the party’s NEC who spoke in confidence, in order not to preempt the meeting, explained that so many issues which had been left to linger since the 2023 election would be thrashed out.
The source said: “We will be dealing with a lot of issues, the latest of which is the issue of the recent constitution of caretaker committees by the National Working Committee.

“We’ve received complaints from a number of our governors who were not consulted before the names from their states were published.

“Rivers State governor, Siminalayi Fubura’s case is already in the public space. There are several others who have listened to wise counsel and decided to wait for the NEC meeting to state their claim.

“You see, the challenge in some states is this, just like in Rivers, there are some states where first term governors relied on the structures put in place by their predecessors to win. Now, they want structures of their own, ahead of 2027, this is a potential source of conflict.

“There are no such issues in Oyo, Bauchi and Zamfara where the governors are comfortably in charge. Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Bala Mohammed (Bauchi) are second term governors, while their Zamfara State counterpart, Dauda Lawal, although a first termer is in firm control.”

Another party source who also spoke in confidence, said: “We are also not oblivious of plots by fifth columnists to use litigations to try to stall progress.

“We heard speculations that some persons from the South East are trying to challenge our retention of Sen. Sam Anyanwu as national secretary, we are considering all these.

“Although the influence of the Wike-led Group of Five (G-5) governors has waned considerably, following their electoral defeat in 2023, Wike still enjoys considerable influence among party loyalists beyond Rivers State.

He is reputed to have played a significant role in the elections of some of the party’s governors and members of the National Assembly, especially in the South South and South East and parts of the North.

The FCT minister also enjoys the support of stakeholders who feel the party must look beyond the presidential ambition of Atiku Abubakar, to rebuild and prepare for the future.

Those in this category are said to be pushing for the retention of Amb. Illiya Umar Damagum as Acting National Chairman in order to avoid the legal land mines capable of throwing the party into greater turmoil.

However, party stakeholders sympathetic to Atiku’s cause argue that since Iyiorchia Ayu’s tenure was truncated, “It would serve the party’s greater interest to get a replacement from his zone or better still his state in line with the party’s established tradition.

“Those in this category insist that party discipline wouldsuffer irreparable damage if Wike is allowed to continue to have his way.

An associate of the former vice president said: “Wike’s role in our defeat in 2023 is well documented. Allowing Damagum continue as acting chairman will not be in the party’s interest.

“The reason is simple, there is no way Damagum can in good conscience make Wike and his colleagues pay for their disloyalty to this party.

“We need to revisit 2023, identify culprits, apportion blame and punish those found guilty because no group should be bigger than the party.

“Several names are being mentioned as possible replacements for Ayu from the zone. They include former Benue State governor, Gabriel Suswam; Dr. Emmanuel Agbo also from Benue and a former minister, Humphrey Aba, from Kogi State.