President Goodluck Jonathan
By Chuks Okocha
President Goodluck Jonathan has launched a bid to curtail the influence of the governors elected on the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the affairs of the party.
THISDAY learnt Wednesday that part of the plans by the presidency in tackling the governors, who have emerged as a potent force in the party, is to weaken their support base in the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP.
The president is billed to meet today with voting members of the NEC under the auspices of G-84, who control the bulk of the votes in the party’s organ.
The G-84 comprises NEC members elected at the party’s national convention and unlike some other members of NEC who are observers at committee meetings, they can vote.
The G-84 members are the major power bloc in the PDP NEC, which consists of 120 members, which includes members of the National Working Committee (NWC), the ex-officio members, the deputies to the NWC members and the governors elected on the platform of the party.
The members of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) are not voting members of the PDP NEC, though they can attend the NEC meeting as observers.
It was learnt that today’s meeting would deliberate on how to strengthen the G-84 as a way of checking the “excesses” of the governors.
To prepare the ground for Thursday’s meeting with the president, PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, had on Tuesday night met with the G-84 members during which they were intimated of the game plan.
At the meeting, which took place at the residence of Tukur in Abuja, the group elected a former Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu, as its new chairman.
He replaced the former chairman of the group, Alhaji Issa Tafida Mafindi, from Taraba State.
According to a source, “President Jonathan’s meeting with the G-84 members today is crucial to the survival and politics of the party. The meeting, which will take place at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, is expected to commence at 8 pm.
“The meeting is crucial because the governors normally dictate what will happen at the NEC meeting through the members of the G-84 who are the voting members of the meeting. They are expected to be nominated at the national convention by the governors who use them to direct and gauge the mood of the meeting.
“But recent developments in the party have dictated that the president meet these voting members of the NEC to solicit their support, especially in the forthcoming NEC meeting. It was through these NEC members that the PDP governors use to control the affairs of the party at NEC meeting.”
It was gathered that if the president should get the support of the G-84 members, then the holding of the PDP NEC would be in sight. The last NEC meeting held on July 19, 2012. The meeting is expected to take place four times in a year.
The PDP governors, however, have been clamouring for the NEC meeting to address some of the issues confronting the party, especially the leadership crisis in the Adamawa State chapter of the party and the sack of the party’s National Secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, by the Federal High Court.
A source from the G-84 told THISDAY that they would table their problems, including the marginalisation of members before the president with a view to seeking better treatment for the group.
The deputies to the NWC members are also insisting that they should be part of the decision-making organ of the party, arguing that after all, “we are all elected members.”
Tukur had two weeks ago met with all the deputies, including the deputy national treasurer, the deputy national organising secretary, the deputy national publicity secretary, the deputy national auditor, the deputy youth leader, the deputy national legal adviser and the deputy national women leader.
At the end of the meeting, the deputies to the NWC members had pledged their support and loyalty and the party in return approved the payment of N350,000 as monthly allowance for each of them.
Meanwhile, the president Wednesday met behind closed doors with members of the PDP NWC and the principal officers of the National Assembly.
The meeting, which began at about 8.58pm, ended at 10.17pm. No communiqué was issued nor were journalists briefed on the deliberation.
It was attended by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark; his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu; Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha; and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim, among others.
Jonathan will also Thursday meet with the PDP governors, chairmen of the party in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the PDP National Assembly caucus.
The letter inviting them to the meeting was signed on behalf of the president by Tukur.