How PDP Govs’ Plot to Hijack Presidential Convention Committee was Foiled
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
More revelations have emerged on how the plot by the governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to hijack the Presidential Convention Committee was foiled at the last National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, THISDAY has learnt.
THISDAY gathered that the intrigues by other stakeholders in the party foiled the plot by the party’s governors to throw up one of their own as the chairman of the presidential convention committee.
The intrigues, it was learnt, eventually saw the emergence of the former Senate President, Senator David Mark as the chairman of the Presidential Convention Committee.
A source within PDP’s NEC, who confided in THISDAY, disclosed that the governors had adopted the same strategy they used in the October 30 National Convention where all the major committees of the convention were headed by governors, thus giving the signal that the party has been taken over by the governors.
However, the test of the capacity of the National Working Committee (NWC) to assert its independence came during the constitution of the presidential convention committee.
In 2018, Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa was the chairman of the presidential convention committee that took place in Port Harcourt.
Investigation however revealed that to ensure that the serving governors do not hijack the May 28 and 29, 2022 presidential convention, other stakeholders, including former governors restrategised to checkmate the gradual takeover of the party by governors.
THISDAY gathered that the governors had planned to install either the Oyo State governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, or his Enugu State counterpart, Mr Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as the chairman of the convention committee.
But the stakeholders consisting of the national caucus, the Board of Trustees (BoT), and the forum of former governors as well as the former members of the National Assembly kicked against it.
“The position of the stakeholders is that the governors are some of the main presidential aspirants and that other governors are aligned to the aspirations of their colleagues. They argued that making one of the governors the head of the presidential convention would not guarantee a fair and transparent convention,” the source explained.
According to the source, the stakeholders met at various levels and agreed that the influence of the governors should be whittled down, at least to assure other presidential aspirants that are not governors of fair play at the presidential convention.
“Though we know that some of the governors are not happy about it, that is the only and better way to go,” the NEC member told THISDAY.
“It was for this reason that Senator David Mark was chosen. He was supported in the headship of the presidential convention committee by a former governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema, and the Enugu State Governor, Ugwuanyi.
The source said that the composition of the convention committee reflected the three major components of the party’s stakeholders.
“Mark represents the legislative arm as a former Senate president, while Shema represents the former governors and partly the executive committee as he was a former deputy national chairman of the PDP. The Enugu State Governor, Ugwuanyi represents the PDP governors’ forum,” the source added.
According to the source, “It should be observed by all that due to the presidential aspirations of some governors, other governors are no longer comfortable with one other. Take, for instance, the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. He is the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and his deputy is the Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu.
“It is expected that in the absence of the chairman, the deputy should act, but the deputy to Tambuwal is the campaign director of the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, and many governors are not comfortable with a meeting that Ikpeazu will head.
“It is for this reason that the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom has become the rallying point of the PDP governors’ meetings and other party stakeholders’ meetings.
“In the run-off to the last NEC meeting, all the party’s important meetings took place in the Benue State Government Lodge,” the source said.
Highlighting the division among the PDP governors, the NEC member said, “we are not politically blind. We know where each of our governors belongs. We know that the Adamawa State governor, Ahmad Fintiri is a supporter of the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, while Oyo and Abia State governors are with Wike. We know the body language of the Delta State and Taraba State governors. So, we are careful of our actions to avoid any suspicious blame,” he explained.
The PDP governors contesting for the presidential ticket of the party are Bala Mohammed of Bauchi, Tambuwal of Sokoto, Wike of Rivers, and Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom.
Investigations showed that the governors are currently torn between Tambuwal and Wike, with the expectation that Mohammed has a chance to contest for a second term.
The source is privy to the ongoing horse-trading ahead of the party’s primary and said four governors are said to be queuing behind Tambuwal while Wike and Emmanuel, who are from the same zone, also have high chances among the governors.