Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan is rolling out his political armour against several Peoples Democratic Governors (PDP) in a fierce battle for the soul of the party at Saturday’s crucial national convention.
Also scheming for control of the party’s machinery are ex-Vice President Namadi Sambo; ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar (who is yet to officially join the party); ex-governors, loyalists of ex-President Ibrahim Babangida led by a former National Security Adviser, Gen. Aliyu Gusau; ex-President of the Senate, Chief David Mark; Deputy President of the Senate, Chief Ike Ekweremadu; ex-Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ibrahim Mantu; members of the party’s Board of Trustees being coordinated by its chairman, Sen. Walid Jibrin, Sen. Ahmadu Ali and Prof. Jerry Gana, a former Minister of Information.
Serving governors are being coordinated by Mr. Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and Ayo Fayose.
Former governors of the party including Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Rashidi Ladoja (Oyo), Gabriel Suswam (Benue), Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada (both Kogi) are not left out.
Investigation revealed that almost every godfather in PDP is backing one candidate or the other for election into the National Working Committee (NWC).
The objective is to enable the godfathers have a say in the management of the party especially in the choice of the party’s presidential candidate for the 2019 election.
It was gathered that the interest of the godfathers has complicated the intrigues surrounding the contest for party offices at the December 9 convention.
Although some party leaders are pushing for merit, some other leaders believe that all the candidates have been tested in the past.
The positions of National Chairman, National Secretary, Deputy National Chairman (North); Deputy National Chairman (South) , the National Organizing Secretary and the National Publicity Secretary are attracting more interest from the godfathers.
The top contenders for the national chairmanship are a former Acting National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus; a former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran; a former Deputy National Chairman, Chief Olabode George; a former Minister of Sports, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja; a former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; ex-Governor of Oyo State, Sen. Rashidi Ladoja; a media mogul, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi; and a former governorship candidate in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje.
A breakdown of the support base of the chairmanship aspirants is as follows:
- Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Wike, Fayose, PDP governors, state PDP chairmen
- Tunde Adeniran—-Jonathan, IBB Boys, Gusau, Gana, Ali, Mantu, BOT members
- Otunba Gbenga Daniel—-Ex-governors, a splinter of IBB Boys,
- Olabode George—-Some BOT members
- Taoheed Adedoja—-BOT members, some Northern delegates
- Jimi Agbaje—–South-West delegates, BOT members
- Rashidi Ladoja—-Ex-governors but under pressure to accept concession of Deputy Chairman slot to his choice
A top party source said: “The jostle for offices at the national convention is going to be a battle royale because the godfathers in the party and the governors want to slug it out to install their loyalists.
“For ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, the convention will be a litmus test for his plans to be a father-figure for PDP. But if he fails, it might be another political setback for him after the loss at the poll in 2015.
“Jonathan and others, especially loyalists of ex-President Ibrahim Babangida, are working hard for a national outlook for PDP but some of the governors think otherwise. They said they are already conducting some permutations.
“Our greatest fear is that all these forces are trying to outsmart each other. If the party leaders can cage the governors and allow the delegates to have a final say, we will be opening a new chapter for PDP.”
A member of Board of Trustees of PDP said: “we are all worried because if we do not get it right, we might as well say goodbye to our chances in 2019.
“The party is on the edge again. We are however struggling to appeal to all groups to sheathe their swords and avoid implosion at the convention.”
Responding to a question, the BOT source added: “All our leaders are conscious of the 2019 poll and they are struggling to be relevant. You cannot blame them because in politics, relevance matters.”
A governor, who spoke with our correspondent last night, said: “I think the way out of any crisis at the convention is to allow for a free and fair contest. We need to live up to our appellation as a democratic party.
“We are already working on a unity list because we do not want to play into the hands of the ruling party. Certainly, there will be more horse-trading in the days ahead but we will survive it.
“We urge the judiciary not to entertain any frivolous application to stop the convention from holding.”