President Goodluck Jonathan
From Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Wednesday’s zonal congresses of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will produce a final list of “unity consensus candidates” to be adopted as principal national officers of the party during next Saturday’s national convention, THISDAY has learnt.
Barring any further last-minute changes, the lists produced at the six geo-political zones will only be ratified at the convention without any actual voting.
Sources said at the weekend that the governors have decided to endorse the preferred candidates of President Goodluck Jonathan in the interest of “unity and cohesion” in the party.
Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, was said to have met with Jonathan at the president’s country home in Otueke, Bayelsa State, on Saturday where the deal was sealed.
Alhaji Bamanga Tukur is expected to emerge as the national chairman, while Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola may be national secretary under the “unity consensus national chairman”.
But other sources told THISDAY last night that the South-west caucus decided to adopt Chief Ebenezer Babatope for the position of national secretary after a well-attended meeting last night.
Presidency has also been mounting pressure on the North-east governors to adopt Tukur, sources told THISDAY.
It was also gathered that the PDP Governors' Committee, comprising Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba, Jonah Jang of Plateau, Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Martin Elechi of Ebonyi and Amaechi, pencilled down the two names for consideration.
But the North-east governors are insisting that they should be allowed to decide, as anything else would amount to interference.
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, has said that PDP has replied the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the status of 10 states where the commission is insisting on fresh congresses.
This is coming as the South-south governors and stakeholders have zoned the office of the deputy national chairman to Rivers State.
Prince Uche Secondus is set to clinch the office but Amaechi is said to be more disposed to Dr. Sam Jaja. It was not clear last night if the agreement reached with the president means Amaechi would now back Secondus.
At the meeting of the South-south governors and stakeholders, the office of the financial secretary was zoned to Cross River State and the acting national auditor, Bolaji Anani, is said to have been nominated unopposed for the position.
In the same manner, the office of national vice-chairman was zoned to Delta State and the state has nominated the former deputy national secretary, Steve Oru, to fill the slot. These decisions were taken at the meeting of the PDP governors from the South-south last Thursday in Port Harcourt.
THISDAY gathered that the North-east governors will take a final decision on who between Tukur from Adamawa State and Dr. Musa Babayo from Bauchi State would be presented as the “unity consensus candidate”.
But a Presidency source informed THISDAY that if the unity consensus list did not favour President Jonathan, the matter would be decided by the delegates at the convention, but added: “I hope it would not get to that.”
According to the source, “the president has told the North-east governors that he prefers Tukur to become the national chairman, but where he is not presented for adoption at the national convention for ratification by the zone, then the matter would be thrown to the delegates to decide”.
It was gathered that the Governor of Bauchi State, Malam Isa Yuguda, is seriously pushing the aspiration of the acting national secretary, Babayo, but other governors outside the North-east are backing Tukur.
The “anointed” national treasurer of the party is a former minister and member of the House of Representatives from Kebbi State, Bala Kaoje.
The North-west is yet to make its decision on who becomes the national organising secretary.
In Anambra State, crisis is still pervading the choice for the office of the national publicity secretary zoned to the state.
As at the last count, Hon. Chudi Offodile and Chief Achike Udenze had joined the race.
On the status of the query from INEC, Baraje said that the party would not conduct any fresh ward and local government congresses in Kano and Katsina because the tenure of offices of the executive members was yet to expire. The two states are among the states that INEC is insisting on fresh congresses.
“We have written to INEC stating that the party will not conduct ward and local government congresses in some states because the reports submitted by the PDP monitoring committees tallied with the reports of security agencies that monitored the wards and local government elections in the affected states.
“For instance, there would be no ward and local government congresses in Kano and Katsina because their tenure is yet to expire. In other places where the reports of the PDP monitoring committees tally with the police and other security reports, there would be no fresh ward and local government congresses. In some other states, we have complied with INEC in line with the PDP constitution and guidelines,” Baraje said.