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DECISION DAY FOR PDP, RULING PARTY HOLDS CRUCIAL MEETING ON ZONING, ONLINE EGISTRATION

By NBF News
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Jonathan
The nights of long knives and the series of nocturnal (and, sometimes, clandestine) meetings that have characterized the lot of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is expected to coalesce into a make-or-mar meeting today in Abuja, when the various contending forces come to a formal 'confrontation'

It is the much talked about meeting of the National Executive Committee of the party. The governors who have not hidden their disapproval for some of the recent pronouncement of new Nnational Chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, are expected to table their grudges and lay down fresh conditions for going along with what many of them have come to term as Nwodo's one-man-show reform programme.

Although observers of the goings-on in the party insist that the series of meetings that hold Tuesday and Wednesday may have served to douse tension and calm frayed nerves ahead of today's meeting, and that the meeting may in fact, be an anti-climax. Jonathan and his camp are expected to still break some sweat. It is expected that the governors, who are not comfortable that the control veins of the party are gradually slipping out of their grip, would want to extract a commitment from both the President and Nwodo as necessary condition for coming aboard the current reform agenda.

Of course, the PDP governors seem to have potent negotiating chip: They are withholding their support for the online registration regime as well as the dumping of the existing zoning arrangement which would effectively clear the coast for Jonathan to contest next year's presidential election on the party's platform.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will hold its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting today at Wadata Plaza, the party national secretariat in Abuja. Findings revealed that issues to be discussed at the meeting include, online registration of members, the faltering zoning arrangement and guidelines for party primaries.

The most contentious among the issues to be discussed is the zoning arrangement for party and elective offices. A meeting of the national caucus held on Monday night was polarized. The pro-zoning group insisted that there was no need to remove the clause from the party's constitution, even as they submitted that President Goodluck Jonathan had every right to contest the 2011 presidential election, as his right is guaranteed in the Constitution.

Article 7.2[c] of the PDP constitution reads: 'In pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness, the party shall adhere to the policy of rotation and zoning of party offices and it shall be enforced by the appropriate executive committee at all levels.' Another contentious issue to be addressed is the online registration for party members which has already commenced. On Tuesday, the National Working Committee (NWC) signed an agreement for the scheme with a consortium of banks and a consulting firm, Identification Solutions Limited.

But it was learnt that the PDP governors were not comfortable with the scheme and had vowed to kick against it at the NEC meeting today. 'The governors are wary that the scheme, if implemented, would undermine their grip on the party,' Daily Sun source noted.

The source also disclosed that the national caucus had prevailed on the PDP National Chairman, Dr Okwesilizie Nwodo, to table the online registration before NEC, even as the NWC had already signed the master agreement for the scheme. An enlarged national caucus of the party was expected to meet last night to harmonise positions on zoning and online registration before the NEC meeting today.