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Peoples Democratic Party (PDP): Atiku, Wike forces battle for control ahead NEC meeting

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stakeholders are doubling up on mobilization of men and resources ahead of this month’s crucial National Executive Committee (NWC) and Board of Trustees (BoT) meetings to determine who control the party in the run-up to the 2027 elections...READ THE FULL STORY HERE▶

The major gladiators appear to be the party’s presidential candidate in the last election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister Nyesom Wike.

The two men have not been seeing eye to eye since Atiku chose to bypass the former Rivers State governor in picking his running mate for that election.

The PDP acting National Chairman Ambassador Ilya Damagun and National Secretary Samuel Anyanwu are Wike’s allies, and the Atiku camp is not favourably disposed towards them.

The former Vice President, it was gathered, believes the duo will work against the interest of his camp and his presidential ambition in 2027.

Party sources told The Nation yesterday that the various interest groups in the party have withdrawn into tactical mode, with meetings and discreet consultations in top gear.

The North Central zone of the party is already pushing for one of its own to be made national chairman to serve out the term of Senator Iyorchia Ayu, who was forced out of the position soon after the party’s loss in the 2023 election.

Former Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam has already declared his ambition for the position.

In series of meetings with stakeholders in his state, Suswam said Benue should be allowed to complete Ayu’s tenure since he (Ayu) is also from Benue.

Former Senate President Bukola Saraki and former Niger State Governor Senator Babangida Aliyu are also believed to be interested in the position.

Pro-Wike forces are seeking to entrench their influence in the party by pushing for the confirmation of Damagum as National Chairman and retention of Anyanwu as National Secretary until the next convention.

Some party members, especially from the Atiku camp, are pressing for sanctions against Wike and his allies such as former governors Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Samuel Ortom (Benue) for allegedly working against the party in the 2023 elections.

Sources said the recent public castigation of Wike by former PDP National Chairman Uche Secondus and the Director-General, PDP-Presidential Campaign Council in Rivers State, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, was not a coincidence.

Sources said the tone and timing of the press conference showed clearly what the Atiku people were up to.

At that press conference, Sekibo said they had “risen from a meeting of the leadership of the former Rivers State PDP Presidential Campaign Council and members of the PDP in Rivers State who stood by the party after the National Convention of our party produced our presidential candidate, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar, Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999-2007), Wazirin Adamawa.

“The elections are since over and the Supreme Court has ruled on the finality of that contest, pronounced His Excellency Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic, as the duly elected President of Nigeria. We stand by that verdict.

“As law-abiding citizens and responsible leaders of our party in Rivers State, we recognise the elected President of our country and pledge our full support for the success of his administration for the benefit of all Nigerians.

“In effect, we subscribe to the Renewed Hope Agenda and the President’s efforts at strengthening our economy, promoting peace and harmony in our dear country, Nigeria.

“In the same vein, His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, was elected democratically as Governor of Rivers State, and also confirmed by the Supreme Court. As indigenes of Rivers State, we have no choice but to give our dear governor our total loyalty and support for the progress of our state.

“In that same vein, we urge our governor and Mr President to work together for the good of Rivers people. With the elections over, now is the time for real governance for the progress of our nation.”

Wike, in his response, described Sekibo and his group as “expired politicians” who are not worthy of being called “elder statesmen”.

The minister said he kicked them out of the party in Rivers, adding that Secondus is no longer a member of the PDP following a court affirmation of his suspension.

The April 18 meeting of the PDP NEC will be preceded on April 17 by a meeting of the party’s National Caucus. The BoT is also scheduled to meet on April 18, according to the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Debo Ologunagba.

The tension in the PDP seems to have been worsened by the recent release of the names of Caretaker Committee members to run the affairs of the party at the local and state levels.

The committee members’ names were released by the NWC but party leaders in some of the states including Rivers, Enugu and Kaduna are kicking over the lists.

Rivers State Governor Siminalayi Fubara on Thursday went to the PDP National Secretariat Abuja to protest about his state’s list .

The Governor is currently not on good terms with Wike, his immediate predecessor whose loyalists appear to dominate the disputed list.

The governor was quoted as saying after the meeting that the NWC dismissed the list as fake and restated the resolutions of a meeting between the NWC and PDP governors in March.

He said the main resolution of the March meeting was that at the expiration of the tenure of the executive committees in the various states, the members should transform into caretaker committees for the next three months without changing their compositions.

Fubara insisted that Rivers would abide by the decision that the executive officers whose tenure expired in March should remain in office for three months pending the conduct of fresh congresses.

Party source said decisions at the upcoming meetings of the PDP leaders will significantly determine who calls the shots for the PDP’s 2027 presidential ticket.

NEC is the supreme organ of the party, which comprises all party state governors, President and former presidents, serving and former principal officers of the National Assembly, all state chairmen, members of the NWC, former governors, serving and former senators, serving and former members house of representatives and former NWC members among others.

The last PDP NEC meeting, the 97th, was convened by the suspended National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, on September 22, 2022.

Ondo governorship ticket: PDP holds Ward Congress Monday

The NWC of the PDP has also constituted a five man Electoral Committee to conduct Ward Congresses in Ondo State in preparation for the election of the party’s candidate in the upcoming governorship polls.

The committee will conduct the ward congresses across Ondo State for the purpose of electing three ad-hoc delegates from each of the state’s 203 wards.

One out of the three delegates from each ward must be a woman.

The five members of the PDP Ward Congress Electoral Committee for Ondo State are: Senator Abba Moro (Chairman), Barrister Nheoma Ndu (Secretary), Hon. Tom Zakari, Comrade Isaiah Makinde and Chief David Kolawole Vaughan.

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