Race for 2023 Begins in PDP as Party Commences Sales of Forms for Congresses
•Govs, presidential hopefuls struggle for states’ control
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The race for who emerges the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2023 has commenced with the early sales of forms for the party’s congresses.
By implication, however, this has stoked the struggle for the control of the party structures at the states, local governments and wards level.
The struggle is about who will have an upper hand at the states, local governments and ward congresses as the election of these categories of party officials come with a tenure of four years, which would end in 2024.
The presidential and other elections will hold in 2023 but the tenure of elected congress members from the states, the 774 and ward leaders will expire in 2024.
The understanding was shared by the National Organising Secretary of the party, Col Austin Akobundu (rtd), who said, “In line with Section 47(1) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Constitution (2017 as amended) all Party Officers shall hold offices for a term of four years.
“The four-year tenure of many State Executives shall be expiring at various times this year, having been elected in 2016,” he stated, adding that, “The party shall, therefore, be holding Congresses to elect new Executives at the State and Zonal Levels.”
He said that approval for the congresses, was given by the National Executive Committee (NEC) at its 88th meeting, whilst the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2020 congresses are now operational.
He said the sale of forms for the Congresses commenced on February 05, 2020 at the National Secretariat, saying, “All aspirants are therefore advised to purchase their nomination forms from the national secretariat of the party”.
This announcement, THISDAY gathered, has woken up all the PDP presidential hopefuls to the struggle to ensure that their loyalists are elected into the various offices at the congresses.
The development has also pitted some governors against some prominent politicians in their states known to have presidential ambitions.
A party source told THISDAY that some of the presidential hopefuls had begun to financially arm their supporters with a view to ensuring that they get elected into office during the states, local governments and wards congresses.
Explaining why the battle would be stiff, the source said the elected officials at the congresses are the potential foot soldiers to control and determine the election of the presidential delegates, more so that they are part of the automatic delegates at the various arms of the elections for the presidential convention.
For instance, THISDAY gathered from the sales of the various forms for congresses, that the camp of former vice president Atiku Abubakar, who was the PDP presidential candidate in 2019, might be having an upper hand.
For the northeast states, the source said that though Atiku has not disclosed his 2023 presidential ambition, he is believed to be working to sponsor his loyalists to buy forms and emerge as elected officials.
But the source was quick to add that the PDP governors in the states were not folding their arms, as they are also believed to have been sponsoring their loyalists.
In the northwest, two known politicians with presidential ambitions: the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambawal and former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwanso are not left out in the struggle to ensure that their loyalists are elected into positions in the upcoming congresses.
One of the consultants tasked with the sales of forms said since the exercise started, “the request for the forms shows two forms of contest: the governors in the PDP-controlled states and loyalists of the known presidential aspirants.
But Akobundu has enjoined members to get involved in the congresses at various levels.
“It has become necessary for me, on behalf of the National Working Committee (NWC), to encourage all our members to see the year 2020 Congresses as yet another opportunity to show the world, that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not only the largest Party in Africa, but a Party of rules and due process. The leadership of the party enjoins us all to be orderly, peaceful and law abiding.
“Let all aspirants campaign freely, ensure compliance with all constitutional provisions, maintain absolute decorum and avoid unwholesome behaviours that are capable of impugning on the integrity of the processes. Remember the exercise is a family affair. I wish us all successful congresses.”