PDP Govs consolidate grip on party, following outcome of national convention

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Governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have consolidated their grip on the main opposition party with the outcome of last month’s National Convention of the party held in Abuja.

With their stronghold on the party, the governors have positioned themselves to give the presidential ticket of the party to one of their own.
The National Chairman-designate of the main opposition party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu has however disclosed that the delay in the zoning of the party’s presidential ticket was for tactical reasons.

Ayu has also declared that the loss of power by the party in the 2015 general election was a blessing as Nigerians now know that they were better off with the main opposition party.

He also noted that the PDP might have plunged the country into a dictatorship or become complacent if it had remained in control of the government at the centre.

THISDAY gathered that from all the events that led to the build-up to the national convention of the party, it was obvious that the governors from the 13 PDP-controlled states – Rivers, Enugu, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Bayelsa, Abia, Benue, Oyo, Bauchi, Sokoto, Taraba, and Adamawa – as well as the Deputy Governor of Zamfara State, have taken full control of the opposition party.

The governors dictated who gets what in the party’s new National Working Committee (NWC), which was decided at the October 30 – 31 national convention at the Eagles Square, Abuja.

To demonstrate their keen interest in the issue of leadership of the party, all through the night of October 30 to 31, the governors stayed put inside the State House box of the arena to direct affairs of the party.
They did not sleep as they continued to banter and exchange notes while giving instructions from time to time.

A source close to the PDP governors told THISDAY that the attitude of the state chief executives in last month’s convention was unlike in the past when the governors after the opening ceremony would leave, then return to cast their votes and leave again before coming for the announcement of the results.

“This time they stay put at the Eagles Square. With their presence, they were able to sustain interest in the proceeding at the convention ground. This time around, PDP governors are showing that they are dyed-in-the-wool politicians. With this corps of governors, it will be difficult for the 2023 elections to be blatantly rigged or manipulated against the opposition by the ruling party and its cohorts. These governors will defend their turf and the party’s votes,” the source said.

He disclosed that the way the governors ensured that all the machinery necessary for organising the convention from the zoning committee, convention committee, and all the sub-committees were headed by the governors, showed that they are not ready to leave anything to chances.

According to him, the governors also ensured that their loyalists were nominated for the key posts, adding that they achieved consensus for most of the posts where they are directly involved.

“In the three cases which have to be decided by voting – deputy national chairman (south), national youth leader, and national auditor, the candidates on the unity list drawn by the governors still won,” he added.

“Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State produced the national chairman; Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State produced the national Secretary; Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo produced the national deputy chairman (South), while Aminu Tambuwal produced the National Organising Secretary.

He pointed out that the only non- serving governor who produced a high-ranking party official is former Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki whose candidate, Mr. Kamal Adeyemi Ajibade (SAN), emerged as the National Legal Adviser.

He disclosed that the governors conceded the crucial position to Saraki who himself is a former governor and one-time chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum because of the respect they have for him and the good relationship he maintains with all of them.
He said the implication of the governors’ grip on the party is that they will most likely also decide how the presidential candidate of the party for the 2021 elections will emerge next year.

The governors displayed cohesion, focus, unity, dedication, and camaraderie in the manner they execute the election of the new NWC of PDP. It is believed that they did this for a purpose. The ultimate end is to decide the presidential flagbearer. From the interaction and body language of the governors, the governors are likely to make one of them the presidential candidate. They will want a candidate who they can relate with when he emerged as president and who will not feel too big in his disposition towards them,” he explained.

PDP’s Loss of Power in 2015 a Good Amen, Says Ayu

Meanwhile, the National Chairman-designate of the PDP, Ayu, has described the defeat of the party in 2015 by the APC as a good omen, stressing that it has afforded Nigerians the opportunity to know that they were better off with the main opposition party.
Ayu also argued that his party might have plunged the country into a dictatorship or become complacent it had remained in control of the federal government.

Fielding questions from journalists in Abuja at the weekend, the PDP chairman explained that his leadership will re-energise the party to take back power in 2023.
“My priority is for the party to take power. Political parties’ priorities are always to win. Therefore, I reviewed the reasons why we lost power in 2015 and going to work to unite the party, sharpen the programmes of the party, market the party to the Nigerian electorate in a way that they will be prepared to vote for us.

“In a democracy, it’s normal for political parties to lose power. If we didn’t lose power, maybe, we would have become a dictatorship or become complacent. To believe in democracy…there must have been something we were doing wrong or must have done wrong that the Nigerian electorate shifted.

“But today, if we didn’t lose power, they won’t experience the policies and programmes of the other party. They would think there is something better than us. Thank God we lost power. Today, Nigerian people know better,” Ayu explained.
“And I believe we will re-energise the party and take over power again, not only at the centre, but in Nigeria, there is a lot of attention taking power at the federal level,” he added.

He noted that there was a time PDP was controlling about 20 states, stressing that the number has been reduced to 13.
“We hope and pray and we will work very hard to increase that number from 13 to control over 20 states, possibly, we will win the federal government.

“So, that is my vision for this party. We will unite the party as I have said and I believe that very soon, we will have a very united, a very focused political party.”
Speaking on the issue of the zoning of the 2023 presidential ticket, Ayu said the party was delaying the zoning for tactical reasons.
He promised that the decision will be reached democratically when the time comes.

“We are a very democratic party. We don’t have problems in resolving our problems within the party. Everybody thought the zoning of party offices will destroy the party. I think Nigerians were pleasantly surprised that we resolved it without any controversy whatsoever.

“So, those who are visiting controversies on the party are not getting it right. I believe that when the time comes because today, we have separated the zoning of party offices and zoning of the executive and legislative offices and it’s very tactical.

“When the time comes, we will subject ourselves to another democratic exercise and we will come out with a winning candidate. I believe Nigerians will be very happy with what we will offer them in the next couple of months,” he added.
The PDP national chairman-designate expressed confidence that many politicians will return to the PDP because, according to him, the party has started to put things right.

“Necessary reconciliatory processes will be undertaken to reconcile party members and to resolve issues in chapters in various states.
“We have already started that by talking to people. I am happy to inform you so many people have already indicated interest to return to the party, those who were aggrieved who have left the party,” he added.
He cited the case of a former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, and former Governor of Oyo State, Senator Rasheed Ladoja, who have returned to the PDP.

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