Ahead of tomorrow’s meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC), the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has proposed to hold its national convention on May 21.
The opportunity of another meeting of all the major party organs which begins today with that of the national leadership caucus has once again rekindled the battle over the party’s chairmanship seat.
According to the schedule issued for the meeting of the various organs of the party, the national caucus is expected to meet today, after which the Board of Trustees (BoT) will take their turn while the National Executive Committee will cap it all with its meeting at the national secretariat of the party at the Wadata House on Monday.
Thisday gathered that most of the aggrieved PDP members who opposed the emergence of the present acting national chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, will try to use Monday’s NEC meeting to strike back and possibly insist that he quits office at the expiration of his tenure on March 24. Sheriff would need the NEC to ratify proposal for his tenure to end in May after the convention.
A highly reliable party source who spoke to Thisday on the intriguing power struggle still going on in the former ruling party, said the party leaders are sharply divided between those in support of elongating Sheriff’s tenure till May to enable him organise the convention and those that are insisting that he must go by March 24.
A member of the national leadership of PDP told Thisday yesterday evening, regarding proposed timetable for the next national convention, that the party plans congresses to hold as from April 16 while the national convention is to hold on May 21.
The source said the party had earlier proposed May 4 but had to adjust it to make way for sufficient time to organise credible congress to elect delegates.
However, the battle for the chairmanship position of the opposition party is expected to resume as the tenure of Sheriff as acting national chairman will officially end on March 24 in line with that of former chairman, Adamu Muazu, whom he replaced. Aggrieved PDP members operating under the umbrella of PDP Rescue Group made up of former governors, senators and ministers had threatened to mobilise members to ensure that Sheriff and the NWC members keep to the March tenure expiry date, insisting that no organ of the party has the power to extend their tenure.
Unlike the position of the Deputy National Chairman, National Publicity Secretary, the Legal Adviser and probably all other members of the NWC, the national chairman, National Secretary and about two other members of the National Working Committee will have their tenure expiring by March 24.
It was learnt that Senator Sheriff is already aware of the likely plot by opponents to remove him on the basis that he should go having completed Muazu’s tenure and is working tenaciously to woo most members of the NEC to his side.
Part of the strategy is to get these NEC members to endorse a proposal from the NWC to extend Sheriff’s tenure till May, ostensibly to enable him to organise the national convention. This argument will be pushed along with the proposal to secure the ratification of the convention timetable by the NEC.
Meanwhile, indications have emerged that some of the leaders of the PDP may be planning to quit the party should their proposals on the way forward for the party fail to pull through. Most of them appear to be contemplating on having a plan ‘B’ option with a political organisation, the People Mega Party (PMP) which made its debut appearance last week Tuesday in Abuja.
Speaking to Thisday on the agenda and the spirit behind the move to register PMP as a political party, one of the promoters of the party and its national coordinator, Chief Perry Opara, said the party was a reaction to the impunity and reckless leadership going on in the PDP.
“Yes, the formation of the PMP has a lot to do with expectations of Nigerians for an alternative platform to what existed presently. As a matter of fact, I was one of those contacted and we have been involved in extensive consultations and contacts.”
On whether some of the key actors in the PDP are behind the formation of the group, Opara said though these party bigwigs have not made up their minds on where to pitch their tents, the fact remained that they share the vision for an alternative platform which PMP is providing.
“Most of us campaigned under the umbrella of Senator Ken Nnamani and under that umbrella, we have governors, we have former ministers, advisers and all manner of people who feel they are credible. We saw Ken Nnamani as the conscience of the party, we saw him as the only man standing who can be an umbrella over other persons, be you former vice president, former senate president, senator, governor and everybody felt that Nnamani has the capacity, the image and credibility to be a leader
“All of us were there and you are aware that I am close to Senator Nnamani. On many occasions, when he was made chairman of the electoral committee in the PDP, I worked closely with him and in a number of times, he made me chairman of the sub-committee on electoral matters. I was the man that designed and built the PDP collapsible cubicle for voting which the party uses for its elections,” he said.
Opara said what led to the parting of ways of some of the PDP chieftains that have already resigned was the refusal of the present leadership of the party to heed advice on the urgent need to reform the affairs of the party after losing at the polls.
“So all of us were there, we are aggrieved members of the PDP under the leadership of Ken Nnamani. But something happened on November 12, when Nnamani assembled the cream of the leaders of the PDP made up of governors, former governors, former senators, former advisers, ministers and many people to visit Wadata Plaza, PDP national secretariat. I was number 17 on that list.
“We went to the national secretariat and the then acting national chairman, Uche Secondus, addressed us but unfortunately, we could not extract firm commitment from the leadership and we discovered that it was a journey to nowhere.
“So PMP is a response to the expectation of Nigerians that there should be an alternative platform, not necessarily an opposition party but an alternative platform where those of them who are aggrieved in the PDP, in APC and in other political parties like APGA, Labour Party who want an alternative platform can go. We have decided to provide this platform in PMP,” he said. (Thisday)