There is division in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the push for a mini-convention by G-5 governors, it was learnt yesterday.
The move, it was gathered, is aimed at seeing to the final exit of Dr Iyorchia Ayu as PDP National Chairman. But some Ayu loyalists have countered that no such convention can hold while the suspended chairman’s case is still pending before the court.
It was further learnt that the envisaged mini-convention would be an avenue to rejig the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) as it is presently constituted.
A party source hinted that the NWC members likely to be dropped are the National Secretary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, who is vying for the PDP governorship candidate ticket for the November 11 Imo State election.
Other NWC members who were sponsored to office by the G-5 governors, but who are perceived to have switched loyalties to opposing camps may also not be retained.
The controversy over a mini-convention was among the factors that led to the party’s defeat in the last presidential election.
The G-5 is made up of Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
It was further learnt that the G-5 governors are working hard to ensure that the mini convention is held before May 29 when four of them will be completing their second and final tenure in office.
Of the five governors, only Governor Makinde of Oyo State will remain in office till 2027, having won a re-election in the last poll.
A source close to the G-5, however, said the North may still retain the national chairman, contrary to the governors’ call for its zoning to go to the South before the last general election.
According to the source, PDP may pick its 2027 presidential candidate from the South.
Another source, who craved anonymity, said the Northcentral where Dr Ayu hailed from, may still retain the national chairman.
However, the G-5, which is being led by Governor Wike, is said to be finding it difficult to secure the buy-in of stakeholders in the party’s critical organs, especially the National Executive Committee (NEC), which is the highest decision making organ of the party.
Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State is said to be well-disposed to the plan and he is working on some of his close associates in the NEC, with a view to winning them over.
A source confirmed a series of meetings of members of the group with some stakeholders in the last few days.
One of such meetings, he said, took place last week, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, where the governors were reported to have stressed the need for the mini-convention to hold before the May 29 handover date.
However, some key stakeholders have faulted the alleged plan, saying it’s ill-timed and ill-advised for anyone to start discussing mini-convention at this point.
According to them, every right thinking party member ought to be concerned about the fate of the PDP in the last governorship and parliamentary elections in Adamawa, Kebbi and Sokoto states.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared the March 18 governorship elections in Adamawa and Kebbi States as inconclusive.
The February 25 parliamentary election in Sokoto State also suffered the same fate. Among those affected was Governor Aminu Tambuwal, who is the PDP candidate for the Sokoto South Senatorial District.
INEC has fixed Saturday April 15 for supplementary elections in the affected states.
A member of NEC, who spoke with our correspondent in confidence, urged those pushing for mini convention to exercise restraint and allow the party some space to breathe.
The party chief said: “A mini convention at this time is a distraction that we can do away with. What should worry right thinking PDP members is the so-called inconclusive governorship elections in Adamawa and Kebbi.
“We are more concerned about Adamawa because we have a sitting governor that the powers that be are planning to rig out and steal our mandate.
“So, if it’s true that some people want a mini convention at this time, then, they are being insensitive and inconsiderate. They may as well be asking for chaos as if we have not had enough distractions already.
“More so, any proposal for mini-convention must get the approval of NEC. But many NEC members are currently brooding over the party’s misfortune in the last general election, especially our loss at the presidential election.
“Most NEC members and other stakeholders have shifted focus to the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal and other pending cases at the governorship and National Assembly tribunals.
“Those you said are planning to hold mini convention are free to go ahead with their fanciful idea. Don’t forget that the substantive PDP national chairman is only on suspension.
“We are still awaiting court ruling in the matter pending before a High Court in Benue State. All that’s required to stop any mini convention or a semblance of it from holding, is for a member to approach the court for a restraining order.
“These people must know that nobody has the monopoly of obtaining restraining orders from our courts. This is the most inauspicious time to for anyone to call for mini convention.”