Top leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), including five serving governors, have raised an 18-man search team for a credible member as the next National chairman of the party.
The party’s National Convention has been tentatively fixed for March.
There were indications that the Acting National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, and most members of the National Working Committee (NWC), including the embattled National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, will not be voted back into office.
Before he was put on trial for alleged N400million fraud, Metuh was said to be aspiring to be the next National Organizing Secretary of the PDP.
Investigation revealed that top PDP leaders had a secret meeting at a posh hotel in Lagos to avoid the prying eyes of security agencies in Abuja.
At the session last Saturday were the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, Governors Ayo Fayose, Olusegun Mimiko, Ibrahim Dankwambo, Ishaku Darius, Prof. Benedict Ayade and the Deputy Governor of Abia State, Ude Oko Chukwu.
Others included ex-Governors Abdulkadir Kure, Donald Duke, Jonah Jang, Obong Attah and Achike Udenwa; the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio; the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Leo Ogor; serving Senators and members of the House of Representatives; ex-Ministers Suleiman Abubakar, Tanimu Turaki and Osita Chidoka.
The session focused on how to reposition the party ahead of 2019; win back the confidence and sympathy of Nigerians; and elect a new National Chairman with credibility, integrity and clout to lead the PDP back to power in the next election.
The meeting was, however, stormy on which geopolitical zone will produce the next chairman of the party.
While Governor Ayo Fayose insisted on South West getting the slot, some leaders prefer the North West producing the new chairman because the PDP has suffered more membership depletion in the North than any zone.
A source said: “Fayose created a scene at the session by being vehement on the South West getting the PDP chairmanship slot. He said in the history of the PDP, the zone had not led the party.
“Most leaders reminded Fayose that South West was the only region that had produced the longest serving President since 1999 which is bigger than party chairmanship.
“When Fayose was being unapologetic, some members of the House of Representatives accused him of getting rude. In fact, a former governor reminded Fayose that he was at a PDP session and not any meeting in Ekiti.”
Another source said: “Some of us did not blame Fayose for fighting for the South West. He has been consistent in making a case for his zone which he has been warning us that it is strategic to the PDP’s victory in future.
“Fayose felt that the PDP should also win back the South West which supported the opposition party to defeat the PDP in the 2015 presidential poll.”
After heated debates, all the leaders at the session said the choice should be left open to all the geopolitical zones.
A former governor said the leaders decided to “raise an 18-man search team for a capable hand to lead the PDP.
“Each of the six geopolitical zones will have three representatives in the search team. Their mandate is to look for a new face for the PDP who can reorganize and lead the struggle for the party to return to power in 2019.
“Our present preoccupation is to get a new chairman who must have credibility and integrity to lead the new opposition party. We don’t mind where such a good candidate comes from.
“If the candidate is from the North or South, the zoning of the Presidential ticket of the PDP in 2018 will determine whether or not such a person will step down later.”
As at press time, members of the search team have started receiving suggestions and recommendations since Monday.
Although the list is growing, some of the names being recommended to the search team in the last few days are a former President of the Senate, Chief David Mark, ex-Minister of Special Duties, Tanimu Turaki (SAN), and another ex-President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani.
As more names were being suggested to the team last night, it was learnt that Dr. Doyin Okupe, who was a former Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, has shown interest.
A third source said: “Definitely, it is certain that in March, we will do away with most members of the present National Working Committee (NWC) because they are disunited, they have grounded the party and they failed to deliver in 2015. We cannot ask them to repeat the ballot examination.”tweet