Anxiety as PDP National Caucus, NEC Meet Over Presidential Ticket
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
There is anxiety among members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the national caucus of the main opposition party and the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meet on Monday (tomorrow) and Tuesday to take a decision on the presidential ticket of the party, THISDAY has learnt.
In a memo to its national caucus, the main opposition party has directed members of the caucus to consider whether geopolitical zoning is in the interest of the PDP in winning the presidential election in 2023.
The party also urged its national caucus to determine the implications of throwing the presidential ticket open.
With the election of its National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu from the North, it was expected that the party’s presidential candidate would emerge from the South.
But the main opposition party has been playing hide-and-seek games with the issue of where its presidential candidate would come from, raising concerns that it might throw the ticket open, against the popular agitation for power to shift to the South.
Unlike the PDP, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has set the necessary machinery in motion to choose its presidential candidate from the South.
THISDAY gathered that the two organs of the PDP will decide whether to zone or throw open the presidential ticket of the party for the 2023 general election.
PDP NEC will also decide on the recommendation of the 2019 Elections Review Committee set up by the party to assess its performance in the last general election.
The committee headed by the Governor of Bauchi State, Senator Bala Mohammed had in its recommendation submitted to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party on May 21, 2021, urged the party to allow interested party members to vie for the 2023 presidency, irrespective of their geopolitical zones.
The committee had anchored its position on the fact that across the land, Nigeria boasts of good hands capable of bailing the country “out of her current quagmire.”
The report of the committee had stated that: “In line with certain unwritten conventions of the nation’s history, many people think that, for fairness and equity, the North-east and South-east geo-political zones that have had the shortest stints at the Presidency, should be given special consideration, in choosing the presidential flagbearer of the party, for the 2023 elections.
“While we admit that this is a strong argument, we should not lose sight of the fact that Nigeria is endowed with many capable and very experienced leaders in every part of the country. Moreover, the exigencies of the moment demand that nothing should be compromised in choosing the leader, with the attributes to disentangle the country from the present quagmire.
“Therefore, we think that every Nigerian, from every part of the country, should be allowed to choose the best candidate, through a credible primary election; as a way of institutionalising a merit-based leadership recruitment process, for the country.”
Receiving the report, the former leader of the party under Prince Uche Secondus had pledged that the NEC would set up a technical committee to review the report, but it never did.
THISDAY gathered that the report of the Bauchi State governor’s committee would form the main agenda of the national caucus meeting and NEC meetings of the PDP.
A source within the party’s NWC told THISDAY at the weekend that: “These two organs of the party will look at the report of Governor Bala Mohammed’s committee and in their wisdom decide to either throw the presidential ticket open or zone it to one of the six geo-political zones of the country.
“In the memo to the national caucus, there are variables we want them to consider. One is whether geopolitical zoning is in the interest of the PDP in winning the presidential election come 2023 and two, what will it cost the PDP if it throws the presidential ticket open.
“Three, as a party in opposition whether zoning in the PDP is in the overall interest of the party,” the source explained.
THISDAY gathered that after the National Caucus and NEC meetings, the party’s NWC will still take the issue to the Board of Trustees (BoT) and the PDP governors as well as the National Assembly caucus before a final decision would be reached.
Appointment of Mobilisation Director Divides PDP Govs
Meanwhile, the governors of the PDP are already divided over the appointment of a substantive director of mobilisation and organisation for the party.
The Department of Mobilisation and Organisation of the party is the engine room of the PDP in terms of the election of all delegates, both ad-hoc and statutory delegates, as well as election management.
The department is under the control and supervision of the National Organising Secretary, Umar Bature, who is a nominee of the Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, who is a presidential aspirant.
THISDAY gathered that a governor from one of the South-south states is the arrowhead of those who want the substantive director replaced with a new director from either Delta State or Imo or Kogi State, so as not to give any presidential aspirant undue advantage.
However, it was learnt that some other governors of the party and the incumbent National Organising Secretary, Umar have rejected the names of those recommended for appointment for the position of new Director of Mobilisation and Organisation.
The National Organising Secretary who is a member of the National Working Committee has argued that he was not aware of the said appointment until the nominees were invited for interview.
An internal memo sighted by THISDAY, which was signed by the National Secretary of the PDP, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, listed those invited for the interview to include: Stephen Onuh from Kogi State; Dr Okey Mbionwu from Imo State and Mr Chukwuma Chinoye from Delta State.
However, the National Organising Secretary is insisting as the head of organisation in the party that there is no need for a change of baton in the mobilisation because the primary elections are already very close.
Following the disagreement, the PDP has suspended the planned appointment of a substantive director of mobilisation and organisation.