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THE POLITICS, INTRIGUES THAT SHAPED PDP IN 2011

By NBF News
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Like every other political party, Wadata Plaza, the Peoples' Democratic Party  national secretariat was a beehive of activities in 2011. It was the year of rigorous campaigns for elective offices by candidates on the platform of the party. In spite of the claims and threats of the opposition to unseat the party at the federal level, it won the presidential  election and majority seats in  the National  Assembly.

Before the general elections, the party was divided into two warring camps: pro-zoning advocates , or power rotation, between the North and South, as enshrined in the party constitution, and the anti-zoning elements.

According to the former  group, the presidential ticket of the party for the 2011 presidential election ought to have been restricted to chieftains of the party from the North, since the then ailing president, Umaru Yar' Adua who the nation lost to the cold hands of death before the general election was from the North.

On the other hand,  the anti-zoning proponents who feigned ignorance of the zoning arrangement, insisted that whatever deal that  was sealed by the national caucus of the party was not binding on the nation as the Nigerian constitution is the  supreme document. In spite of the rancorous debate over the issue, the PDP still rallied round its own candidate, at the April poll with President Goodluck Jonathan, defeating his main rival, the Congress for Progressive Change presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari.

NWC members scramble for ministerial slots few weeks after the election, what took the centre stage in the PDP was the frenzied lobby for ministerial slots  among national officers and leading gladiators in the party. After what was termed a presidential retreat at Obudu Ranch, Cross Rivers State to select a crack team of technocrats for the Jonathan cabinet, Nigerians were

worried when the ministerial list was late in coming. But when the final list was made public, not a few Nigerians were bemused over the acceptance of ministerial offer by members of the PDP National Working Committee : Dr Haliru Bello Mohammed and Dr Samuel Ortom, former  national chairman and national auditor, respectively,  became Minister of  Defence and Trade, respectively.

To fill the vacuum created  by the exit of its national chairman, the PDP at its 56TH NEC elevated  the party national secretary, Alhaji Kawu Baraje to the position of acting  national chairman, while the deputy  national secretary, Dr Musa Babayo, became the acting national secretary .

Zoning resurrects
What was presumed to have been buried in the party when the proponents of zoning lost the party presidential ticket to Dr Jonathan at the party's national convention and his victory at the polls was to resurrect again, as members of the Green House prepared to pick its principal officers. The PDP which had pronounced zoning dead in the party was to insist that the position of  Speaker of House of Representatives had been zoned to the south-west geo-political zone, to the consternation of  Nigerians.

Once the party  made an official declaration, the anti and pro-zoning elements returned to the trenches. The PDP NWC came out and proclaimed Honourable Mulikat Adeola-Akande from Oyo State as its official candidate for the exalted office. It warned that any federal lawmaker on its platform who defied the party's position would be reprimanded for anti-party activity.

At the end of the voting process on the floor of the House, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal from the north- west emerged the Speaker. It distorted the semblance of power rotation of elective  offices, as the north-west clinched two strategic positions: the Speaker of the House in person of Honourable Aminu Tambuwal  and Vice-president of the country, Architect Namadi Sambo.

President Olusegun Obasanjo was to stir the hornet nest  at a meeting of the PDP Board of Trustees when he insisted that the north-west had to let go the position of Speaker, as according to him,  the PDP caucus had zoned the slot to the south-west!

Jonathan punches Sylva
Bayelsa state governor, Timpire Sylva lost his bid to seek a fresh ticket on the platform of the party, ahead of the Bayelsa governorship election, scheduled for next year by the  Independent National Electoral Commission.

The PDP appeal screening panel, led by former Ekiti state deputy governor, Mrs. Biodun Olujimi had premised its action,  not to allow the sitting governor  contest the party governorship primary, on a petition written by a law firm, Oracle Law firm, accusing the embattled governor of ''acts of  threats to national security, treasonable felonies and anti-party activities.'

The panel however acknowledged that ''security issues are beyond the scope of its assignment,'' while it equally admitted that ''it lacks adequate information  and technical know how to arrive at  a defendable decision.''  It therefore  recommended  that ''the NWC  and the Elders of the party look into  the matter and decide appropriately.''

But rather than  give reason[s] for excluding the sitting governor from the party primary, the PDP NWC insisted that the embattled Bayelsa governor knew his sins and should tell Nigerians.

North- east sets to lead PDP:
Ahead of its national convention slated for February, when new set of national officers will be expected to lead the party, party chieftains interested in managing the affairs of the PDP are already doing informal consultations.  At its 57th NEC held last Thursday, the acting national chairman of the party, Kawu Baraje told party chieftains that  the party  was yet to reach an understanding on the zoning of political offices. But Daily Sun findings revealed that aspirants  for the position of national chairman are from the north-east geo-political zone.

The list include, former governor of old Gongola State and Chairman, African Business Roundtable, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; former Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Dr. Mohammed Abba Aji; former governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji  Adamu Muazu and the former national chairman of Grass root Democratic Movement, Alhaji Gambo Lawan.  Others who had also declared  their interest are former  Minister of Petroleum under the Ibrahim Babangida military regime, Senator Jubril Aminu and former Defence Minister, Alhaji Shetimma Mustapha.