JONATHAN, GOVS STRIKE DEAL ON PDP EXCO
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Tony Edike
LAGOS-The shape of the next national executive of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP was at the weekend being fine tuned after various interest groups in the party including governors struck a deal with President Goodluck Jonathan.
At the heart of the agreement is the adoption of the President's list of aspirants for the national executive with the concession of the offices of Deputy National Chairman and National Secretary for the Governors.
Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed (right), PDP National Chairmanship candidate, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur at the Government House, Ilorin while former Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu watches.
Meanwhile, contention for the position of National Secretary was yesterday boiling over in the Southwest to which the office is zoned to with major stakeholders in the region taking position against President Olusegun Obasanjo. Obasanjo according to sources in the party has already nominated two persons for the position sparking speculations that the former President was playing a game of intrigues that could see him produce a last minute joker.
Meanwhile, party stakeholders from the Southeast Zone led by former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme in a departure from tradition yesterday adopted erstwhile National Vice-Chairman Olisa Metuh and Ambassador Kema Chikwe for the positions of National Publicity Secretary and National Woman Leader respectively.
PDP Governors were the major surprise in the weekend decision to massively queue behind the President's list contrary to the views canvassed by some insiders in Aso Rock that the Governors were out to sabotage the President.
The agreement Vanguard learnt yesterday was set up to ensure harmony in the party and prevent possible rift on the convention ground.
One Governor who facilitated the agreement confirmed yesterday:
'Governors as loyal party members are in agreement with the President's desire on the new exco and we are working towards realizing his objective. We will not do anything to oppose the desire of the President on the new exco,' the Governor reiterated.
Party sources reiterated yesterday that second republic Governor of old Gongola State and erstwhile helmsman of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA Alhaji Bamanga Tukur was sustaining his position as the top favourite on the President's list for the position of national chairman of the party.
His aspiration was said to have been accepted by the majority of Governors especially those from outside Tukur's Northeast base.
His rivals were, however, not giving up on their aspiration despite the reported endorsement of Tukur by the presidency.
'It is all rumour and it is being spread by the Tukur group,' the campaign manager of one of Tukur's rivals told Vanguard yesterday as he reiterated that Governors and major stakeholders from Tukur's home region in the Northeast were all against him.
Post of Secretary rocks S-West caucus
The position for the National Secretary was also inspiring serious contention following the reported adoption of erstwhile Governor of Osun State, Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola for the position.
Oyinlola Vanguard learnt was being backed by former President Obasanjo against the desire of some other major stakeholders from the zone.
Before Oyinola, erstwhile Minister of Transport from Osun State Chief Ebenezer Babatope and outgoing national legal adviser of the party, Chief Olusola Oke were yesterday said to be in hot contention for the position which has attracted eleven candidates.
A group of Southwest leaders nevertheless met yesterday in Ikoyi where they adopted Babatope for the position of national secretary.
S-East presents consensus candidate
Meanwhile, the South East Zonal Caucus of the party including Governors, members of the National Assembly and leading party stakeholders rose from a meeting in Enugu yesterday agreeing to present consensus candidates for the various National Working Committee, NWC positions zoned to the South East by the party's national leadership.
Those adopted by the caucus to occupy various positions in the NWC are Chief Methu, as National Publicity Secretary from Anambra State; Dr. Chikwe, National Women Leader from Imo State; Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd), National Vice Chairman, South East zone from Abia State and Barrister Solomon Onwe, Deputy National Secretary from Ebonyi State, among others.
Former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha and the acting Zonal Chairman of the party, Ali Odefa who spoke on the outcome of the closed door meeting held at the Enugu Governor's lodge, said that the caucus unanimously agreed on the various candidates that would fill the positions zoned to the South East.
'We have just had meeting of the South East zonal caucus to sort out position on various offices zoned to the South East by the national leadership of the party in furtherance of the ongoing congress and convention of the party and everything was resolved amicably. So we are looking forward to the convention at the end of the week. The South East is going to the convention as one body,' Dr Ekwueme told reporters after the meeting.
On his part, Ihedioha said the meeting was very successful saying the caucus holistically resolved on a number of candidates put forward for the positions zoned to the South East namely the National Publicity Secretary, National Woman Leader, Deputy National Secretary and Deputy National Organizing secretary. 'We have agreed unanimously on all the candidates from the South East without any dissent,' he said.
Acting National Vice Chairman of the party, South East, Obasi Ali Odefa also told reporters that the caucus had ratified all candidates nominated by various states for the positions zoned to the South East by the national leadership , adding that the candidates were formally adopted by the zonal caucus.
He said that other contestants for the various national positions were subject to the agreement of the zonal caucus which supersedes any other decision, adding that the decision of the caucus would be formally ratified at the zonal congress of the party holding in Enugu on Wednesday.
Metu lauds S-East decision
The former National Vice Chairman, South East who was adopted for the National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh said he was humbled by the overwhelming decision of the zonal leaders of the party, saying such a unanimous decision by the zone 'to go to the National convention with adopted candidates has never happened in the history of the PDP in the South East and to God be the glory.'
The caucus meeting was attended by Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, Former vice president, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Governors of the South East states, members of the National Assembly from the zone, Speakers of the Houses of Assembly in the zone among others.