April 15, 2024

Power shift, Tinubu factor: PDP in make or mar NEC meeting this week

Just in: PDP NWC meets 36 state chairmen, stakeholders in Abuja


•Cracks along regional lines emerge among governors

•Positioning for 2027 heightens tension

•Allow me complete Ayu’s tenure, ex-Gov Suswam pleads

•Says PDP needs strong opposition figure like him to save Nigeria

By Jide Ajani & Soni Daniel

There are strong indications that the series of meetings to be held by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, this week, may determine its continued existence as a united political party of esteem.

Set for Thursday, April 18, 2023 (barring any last-minute change), the NEC meeting will be preceded by a caucus meeting on Tuesday, April 16, followed by a meeting of the members of the Board of Trustees, BoT, on Wednesday, April 17.

Feelers from some leaders of the party suggest that the very contentious issues to be discussed at the meeting will include but will not be limited to discipline within the party, preparations for the Edo and Ondo governorship elections coming up later in the year, as well as party cohesion.

Vanguard has also been informed that another very thorny issue is the proposed talks about possible merger of opposition parties and what role PDP should play.

Interestingly, one of the party leaders disclosed to Vanguard that “whereas 2027 is not on the agenda for discussion, I expect some leaders to hint at that or make veiled reference to it.

“I can tell you,” the party leader continued, “there are talks in different quarters about how our party should approach 2027 and whether or not there should be a clean break from vestiges of the past or whether we can bring about harmony such that the wisdom of the old and the dynamism of our younger leaders would put us in good stead, going forward.

READ ALSO: PDP chairmanship: Allow me to complete Ayu’s tenure, Ex-Gov Suswam pleads

“I’m sure you’re also aware of the talks about possible merger of opposition parties in the country.”

Vanguard checks also discovered a growing chasm between the party’s governors along regional lines.

The PDP has 13 state governors,  eight from the South and five from the North.

The Southern governors are: Akwa Ibom,  Governor Umo Eno; Bayelsa State, Governor Douye Diri; Delta State, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori; Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki;  Enugu State, Governor Peter Mbah; Osun State, Governor Ademola Adeleke; Oyo State, Governor Seyi Makinde; and  Rivers State, Governor Siminalayi Fubara.

The party’s governors from the North are: Adamawa State, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri; Bauchi State, Governor Bala Mohammed; Plateau State, Governor Caleb Mutfwang; Taraba State, Governor Agbu Kefas; and Zamfara State, Governor Dauda Lawal.

The possible division, insiders say, may not be unconnected with power shift and the pursuit of political ambition in the 2027 general election and how to properly position for either the presidential contest, the senate race, or even a ministerial appointment in a possible President Bola Tinubu second term.

This is because three of the 13 governors would no longer be eligible to seek re-election in 2027 – Fintiri,  Mohammed, and Makinde.

The tenure of the incumbent governor of Edo State ends on Tuesday, November 12, this year.

The first term tenure of Governor Adeleke of Osun will end on Friday, November 27, 2026.

Governor Diri of Bayelsa would finish his second term on Monday, February 14, 2028.

In fact, one other leader of the party told Vanguard that the issue of power shift and the Tinubu factor may likely be the most contentious of all the issues.

Information available to Vanguard suggests that while some of the governors, particularly from the South,  have remained resolute, not to dump PDP for APC, the growing appreciation of “some steps being taken by President Tinubu to give the South its rightful share of infrastructure is weighing positively on their minds. His continued appeal for unity among politicians for the sake of making Nigeria great again resonates well among some of our governors.

“Yet, the issue of the 2027 presidential race is waxing divisive between some governors and party leaders from the North on the one hand and their southern counterparts.

Vanguard was made to understand that “former President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years which dealt a severe blow to the entitlement mentality of many politicians across the board, his style of governance which abhorred inclusivity even among northern elites and the fact that the last president of PDP extraction from the North was the late Umar Musa Yar’Adua whose tenure ended in May, 2010, are factors that make some PDP leaders from the North to insist on getting back the presidency in 2027.”

As one of the BoT members concluded while responding to a question from Vanguard: “The meetings this week will determine how we proceed as a political party. If calmer heads prevail, we should emerge stronger. But if people are not careful, don’t be surprised if we end up with northern PDP governors and Southern PDP governors.”

PDP chairmanship: Allow me complete Ayu’s tenure —ex-Gov Suswam

Meanwhile, convinced that he possesses the requisite experience and leadership acumen to steer the party to a greater height, former governor of Benue State, Mr. Gabriel Suswam, has asked the party to allow him assume the position of the national chairman of the party and complete the tenure of Senator Iyorcha Ayu, who was removed from the post by a court order.

Suswam said at a briefing in Abuja yesterday that he was eminently qualified to step into the national chairmanship position of the PDP, having served the party in various capacities as two-term governor of Benue, senator and a member of the House of Representatives at various times.

He pointed out that since the PDP had zoned chairmanship position to the North Central and microzoned it to Benue State, it would make political sense to allow him, as an experienced Benue political leader from the preferred zone, to step in and complete Ayu’s tenure.

Suswam maintained that it was only by allowing him to continue from where Ayu stopped that the state and the zone would be compensated for its numerous contributions to the stability of the PDP.

He said:  “We at the party level believe that the North Central should produce the next chairman as stipulated by the PDP constitution to complete its tenure.

‘The North central should not be shortchanged going by the precedent that has already been set by the party.

“I believe it is important to hear from me. It is just for me to let you know that I have consulted with people in the zone to complete Ayu’s tenure.

”It is not a national contest, something that should be done through consensus and understanding, based on the fact that the position was zoned to the North Central by the PDP.”

Asked if he had cleared with Ayu who was removed from the post through a court order, the former governor affirmed that he had consulted with Ayu and that he was not in court to challenge his removal from office.

“Ayu is not in court and I’ve spoken with him extensively and he said he is no longer interested. He is not in court to challenge his ouster,” Suswam claimed.

He dismissed the notion that there were many camps in PDP, arguing that all well-meaning PDP members recognised that Atiku Abubakar remained the leader of the PDP, having emerged as the presidential candidate of the party.

He added: “I don’t think there are camps in PDP and we have one PDP.  I don’t think Wike has a camp. Atiku was our presidential candidate and automatically the leader of the party.

“I don’t think G5 exists since they are no longer governors but ex-governors. It can now be referred to Ex-G5.”

Suswam said he would use his vast political experience to resolve the challenges of PDP and reposition it as a strong and feared opposition party in Nigeria to save the country from the current economic and financial crises induced by the APC.

“We need a party to offer a better alternative to what we are facing in Nigeria today,” Suswam said.