The Peoples Democratic Party’s stakeholders on Tuesday stopped a move to prevent the National Chairman, Uche Secondus and other National Working Committee members from re-contesting at the party’s national convention.
The PUNCH gathered that after a series of meetings, which started on Monday night and ended at 4:21pm on Tuesday, the party elders agreed to move the national convention, which was earlier scheduled to hold in December, back to October.
It was learnt that the meetings also rejected moves to force the national chairman to resign.
The stakeholders directed the party to set up a committee that would work out zoning of offices.
Sources at the meetings said the shifting of the national convention to October was part of steps taken to pacify the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and his supporters who were insisting on Secondus’ resignation.
Recall that a 35-member elders’ committee was on Thursday set up by the party’s Board of Trustees following calls by some members of the NWC for the chairman’s resignation on the grounds that he was plotting his re-election.
On Tuesday, fresh facts emerged about how the intervention of prominent elders of the PDP saved the party from disintegration.
It was gathered that party elders including former presidents of the Senate, David Mark, Iyorchia Ayu and Pius Ayim, as well as ex-governors Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna), Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun) held a series of meetings from late Monday night till early hours of Tuesday before arriving at a win-win situation for rival groups in the party.
A party source privy to the consultations, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardise peace moves, said, “It was very tricky because those for and against the national chairman held on to their positions until very late this morning.
Re-election: Stakeholders say Secondus, other NWC members can take personal decisions
“The governors were divided. There were those who wanted Secondus and members of the National Working Committee to commit to forfeiting their right to seek re-election in the forthcoming national convention as part of the peace moves.
“This was defeated when those who felt individual NWC members should be allowed to take such personal decisions prevailed. Those in this group argued that Section 47 (1) of the PDP Constitution 2017 (as Amended) gives NWC members the right to occupy offices for a maximum of two terms of four years each.
“Because of the tension generated by the loss of several of our members and leaders to the All Progressives Congress and calls on the chairman to resign, party elders felt each of the parties must make concessions in the interest of the party.
“One, it was agreed that the chairman should not be disgraced out of office while at the same time, it was noted that the party could ill-afford to risk losing more members by allowing him to remain.
“It was then agreed that we moved the convention closer. That way, the chairman will not feel he was hounded out of office while those who want him out immediately will also not feel their observations were taken for granted or ignored. This was what informed the choice of October for our convention.”
Asked if specific mention of the chairman was made on the issue of seeking re-election, the source said, “The issue was not person specific, the point was the entire NWC. Don’t forget also that these positions can be re-zoned. If the position of chairman is zoned to another part of the South, say South -West, the issue of anyone seeking re-election will become a nullity.”
October date shaky as party battles with e-registration, others
However, another party source said, “The October date may not be feasible. The reason is simple. The party has so many activities lined up, the e-registration exercise started yesterday and there are a few states with outstanding congresses and we still have the Anambra governorship election to prepare for.
“November is more likely to be appropriate because by then, all of these activities would have been concluded.
“The tenure of this NWC officially ends in December but for those genuinely interested in the stability of our great party, no sacrifice is too much to make.
“Our governors drove the process. They met with our caucus in the National Assembly and the national chairman before joining the larger meeting.”
The expanded meeting of all the organs of the party which started at 2.46 pm ended at 4:21 pm.
The Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, who read the communiqué to journalists described the meeting as successful.
He said, “There were extensive consultations with all major stakeholders in the party including the governors, members of the Board of Trustees, former presiding officers and current principal officers and leaders from the National Assembly, former governors, former ministers, and indeed other leaders of the party with a view to bringing all tendencies within the party together in view of the urgent task facing the party as the only viable vehicle to checkmate the abysmally poor governance of the APC- led Federal Government.
“The meeting deliberated extensively on the issues thrown up and resolved as follows:
“That the constitution, traditions and practices of the party should be strictly adhered to in finding solutions to any problems.
“That all parties should sheathe their swords in the greater interest of the PDP and the need to rescue Nigeria from the avoidable national malaise and drift occasioned by the APC administration.
“That all processes leading to an early national convention in October be immediately activated by relevant party organs, especially the National Executive Committee.
“That the party should redouble efforts to provide credible alternative leadership for Nigeria as it still remains the only hope for the Nigerian people for good governance.
“The meeting requested the NEC to immediately constitute a zoning committee for party offices and another committee for national elective offices.
“The meeting expressed appreciation to party elders for their commitment and wisdom in handling party affairs.”
Our govs are going nowhere – Tambuwal
Speaking earlier, Tambuwal described speculations that some of his colleagues were plotting to leave the PDP as false.
He said, “You can see clearly that 13 over 13 of your governors, your ambassadors are in this meeting, fully committed to not only resolving the issues at hand, but also working assiduously towards delivering good governance in our respective states and moving our party forward.
“Speaking on behalf of my colleagues, we have resolved, we are committed to remaining in the PDP. Disregard any rumour, every rumour that any of these distinguished leaders is going anywhere.
“We are in the PDP. We are going to remain in the PDP and by the grace of God, who shall be working together to salvage Nigeria.”
While briefing the meeting during the opening ceremony before it went into a closed session, the Chairman of the PDP e-registration committee and Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, said, “Our target is to register 40 million Nigerians as members of the PDP and once we achieve that, we shall win every election landslide. Going forward and there will be no basis to cheat us as was done in the past.”
He explained that seven states namely Taraba, Anambra, Enugu, Edo, Ekiti and Osun s would be used as pilot states.
In his address, the National Chairman, Secondus, said no matter the challenges before the party, it was determined to come out stronger because it had a committed leadership and followers whose interest was the welfare and well-being of Nigerians.