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Uneasy road to PDP’s national convention

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Less than seventy days to its national convention where new national officers would be elected, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has returned to another face of intrigues, political horse trading and wit games.

The struggle to secure votes from about 4,000 delegates expected to determine who controls the party is already putting party leaders, including the 13 state governors of PDP as well as other organs like the National Executive Committee (NEC), National Working Committee (NWC), to serious task.

Only 2,800 delegates participated in the 2017 elective convention that produced Prince Uche Secondus as national chairman, because only statutory delegates voted.

A member of the PDP National Working Committee disclosed that delegates at this year’s convention will be more in number than what the party had in 2017.

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“With the successful congresses in many states, we won’t depend on just statutory delegates. That is why we need to quickly conclude the congresses in other zones like the North West,” he explained.

It was confirmed that the party’s NEC may meet later in the week to decide on such crucial issues as venue, as well as persons who would serve in the convention planning committee.

Sokoto State governor and chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, announced last Tuesday that following the resolution of the party’s crisis, Secondus was asked to convene an emergency meeting of NEC to constitute Convention Planning Committee as well as zoning committee.

It was also discovered that one of the PDP governors would be appointed to serve as the chairman of the convention planning committee, a body that would take most of the crucial decisions on the fate of the party, particularly ahead of 2023 general elections.

Also, the PDP governors’ forum, which is the party’s most influential body, is already at work. The Guardian learnt that consultations had reached advanced stage among the chief executives regarding who to pick for this job.

But those interested in seeking elections as chairman of the party and as members of NWC have equally begun to scheme for their preferred persons to serve in the convention planning committee.

Governor Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State. Photo/facebook/AMINUWAZIRITAMBUWAL

Members of the current Secondus-led NWC who managed to escape being prevented from seeking re-election last week were said to have initiated moves to checkmate any attempt by their opponents to influence the appointment of persons to organise the planning committee.

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A former minister and member of party’s NEC disclosed that NEC would not allow anybody to inject selfish interest that could jeopardise smooth election of the party’s next leaders into the planning committee.

“That is why we resolved that meeting should be convened without delay to sort out all the details of the convention planning committee,” he said.

Although contenders for PDP’s number one office are yet to openly declare, it is gradually emerging that the incumbent, Uche Secondus, is set to stage a come back.

A major cause of Secondus’ rift with his erstwhile godfather and governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, who wanted his immediate sack was the fear that Secondus might leverage his current position to influence the structure of the convention in his favour.

However, stakeholders at the reconciliation exercise last week prevailed on Wike and resolved that Secondus and his NWC members should continue till the end of their tenure. But, instead of December 6, 2021 when his four-year term was meant to end, he will stay in office till October when the national elective convention of PDP would hold to elect another chairman. This was the win-win resolution, which observers believe had worked well for the party.

David Mark

A member of the party’s NEC reviewed the situation and said, “politics is a game of sympathy seeking. Wike wanted Secondus and his NWC members sacked but party leaders did not toe that line. They supported Secondus to continue, though they shortened his tenure. That way, Secondus got upper hand. But will the same party leaders support Secondus if he wants re-election?

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A major factor that could decide the emergence of the next national officers of PDP is the zoning formula. As announced last week, the NEC should meet to appoint another committee to decide the zoning formula.

Again, stakeholders are already consulting on how zoning should be. Many support the existing zoning formula of the party, which reserved the Presidential ticket for the North and the national chairman for the South. Others prefer a no zoning position as canvassed by the Bala Mohammed committee.

The matter of micro zoning in the South is one that is attracting serious attention of contenders. They believe that whoever has upper hand in the control of zoning committee could easily outsmart his opponents.

And the politics of 2023 has been at the heart of serious games of wit and horse-trading in the opposition party. Many believe that it is even responsible for the tension and much trouble for the present leadership of the party.

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