The recent defection by top member of the APC to the PDP may not have come with some issue bags and if not properly manage may ruined all effort of the PDP to upsurge 2019 elections. The defection has sparked crises in at least nine state chapters of the opposition party.
Kano, Kwara, Benue, Kogi, Gombe and Sokoto are top on the list of the affected states, the rest are Imo, Adamawa and Bauchi.
Party sources said yesterday that beneath the euphoria that greeted the defection of one governor, 11 senators and 35 Reps, for now, is immense resentment toward the defectors by current members of the PDP.
Disturbed by the brewing tension, the PDP leadership has mandated the party’s Committee on Contact and Mobilization to wade in and hold talks with stakeholders.
The committee is headed by ex-Cross River State Governor Liyel Imoke. It is scheduled to meet with stakeholders from the affected states tomorrow in Abuja.
It is understood that the terms of engagement might be negotiated between old PDP members and defectors from the APC.
The last stage of talks is said to account for the delay in the defection of Senate President Bukola Saraki and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State.
Saraki has spent the last 72 hours to reach out to PDP leaders in the state who are opposed to his return to the party, especially the plan to hand over the party structure to his group.
Many of such PDP leaders are said to have now backed down on their threat not to accept him back into their fold.
Investigation revealed that the main challenges facing the PDP borders on party structure in the affected states and power sharing formula ahead of next year’s polls.
PDP leadership has mandated Imoke Committee to resolve the grey areas between defectors and old party members in order to put the party in good stead ahead of primaries. The committee has invited stakeholders in some strategic states like Kwara, Kano, Sokoto, Benue and others for a meeting on Monday.
“At the session the committee might broker agreement between the key defectors and old members of the party.
“The major fear is how to create a sense of belonging for all. The party does not want the defections to lead to more complicated problems.
“The terms offered some defectors had not helped matters. For instance, the PDP agreed to concede the right of first refusal to any incumbent governor defecting from APC to seek re-election.”
The case of Benue State, according to a party source, is particularly complex.
“We have a serious case at hand in Benue State where ex-Governor Gabriel Suswam has been sustaining PDP over the last three years,” the source said.
“But the way the PDP national secretariat is managing the defection of Governor Samuel Ortom and Senator Barnabas Gemade might lead to Suswam losing out.
“While the PDP leadership has decided to cede the governorship ticket to Ortom despite protests, Suswam loyalists were shocked that the party is contemplating giving the Benue Northeast Senatorial ticket to Gemade who defeated the ex-governor for the same seat in 2015.
“We do not know how the party will appease Suswam, who is a key member of the Imoke Committee. The alternative for Suswam is to either defect to APC or engage in sabotage in 2019 if he is politically stripped naked.
“Having been a long-time associate of the Saraki dynasty, there is suspicion that the Senate President may have negotiated for Gemade.”
On Kogi State, the source said: “it is apparent that our party might go back to our winning formula of producing the governorship candidate from Kogi East and deputy governor from Kogi West. Short-changing Kogi Central (the Ebira) might create an image crisis for PDP.
“While some of our leaders have opted for an automatic ticket for Senator Dino Melaye in Kogi West others said it might be a violation of the power rotation formula in the district.
If Melaye gets the ticket, the Ijumu-Gbede axis will be occupying the seat for 16 years in a row.
“The last time Lokoja-Kotonkarfe-Oworo axis occupied the seat was between 1999 and 2007 when Sen. Tunde Ogbeha was their representative.
“Melaye became Senator with the huge votes from Lokoja-Kotonkarfe-Oworo axis.
“The emergence of a member of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Yusuf as a senatorial aspirant has added more problem for the Imoke Committee because the Representative is more acceptable to the people of Kogi West than Melaye. The alternative is to allow Yusuf to go for a third term in the House.” PDP concedes Kwara structure to Saraki
A member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP said the party leadership has agreed to hand over the party structure, senatorial ticket and senate presidency to Saraki.
He will also decide those to fly PDP’s flag for the governorship and House of Representatives elections.
The source said: “the old leaders of the party are however tasking the PDP secretariat on what is on the table for them.
“It is unknown what will be the fate of stalwarts like former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Olanrewaju Sulaiman, ex-Minister of Transport, Ibrahim Bio, Senator Simeon Ajibola (the party’s governorship candidate in 2015); the state chairman of PDP, Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo; a former Vice Chancellor of UNILORIN, Prof. Abdulraheem Oba; Yinka Aluko and others.
“A safe option being explored by the party is for Saraki to reach out to these PDP stalwarts and open up negotiation with them. In the last 72 hours, the Senate President has opened talks on how to co-exist with old PDP members.
“The under-the-table discussion may have informed the delay by Saraki and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed in announcing their defection.”
No meeting point yet for Kwankwaso, Shekarau, Wali, Gorozo
Kano State also looks like a hard nut to crack with no meeting point yet in sight for Senator Rabiu Kwankwanso who is returning to the PDP, and ex-Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, ex-Minister Aminu Wali and Senator Hayatu Gorozo.
“Kwankwaso is demanding 60 per cent of the party’s structure which means his group will produce the governor and other key positions. He also said he will finance the party during the 2019 poll,” a source said.
“Therefore, he is leaving the 40 per cent to the three other leaders (Shekarau, Wali, and Gorozo) to share. The three leaders have said a guest cannot dictate to the landlord.”
A source in Shekarau’s camp said: “To compound the challenge in Kano, Kwankwaso is yet to sit down with PDP leaders to discuss on mutual options.”
Dogara gets concession to return as Speaker, wants to install next gov of Bauchi
House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, according to sources, has been given the concession by the PDP to seek re-election in Bauchi State and return as Speaker.
“But Dogara is not stopping at this concession, he appears interested in installing the next governor of the state with strong backing for a former majority leader of the House of Representatives, Abdul Ningi as against a former Minister of the FCT, Sen. Bala Mohammed, who has been sustaining the party,” one of our sources said.
Mohammed, the source added felt “his probe by the House of Representatives, despite entreaties to Dogara, was a ploy to destroy his political career.
“Also, the party might favour Senators Misau and Nasif with automatic return tickets although the PDP will be taking a great risk in view of recent revolts against their performance by their constituents.”
On Sokoto State, sources said Governor Aminu Tambuwal will be doing battle with a former Deputy Governor, Mukhtar Shagari who has declared his interest in the 2019 governorship race.
The source said: “Shagari and his loyalists cannot go far. This is more so due to the alliance between Tambuwal and ex-Governor Attahiru Bafarawa against ex-Governor Aliyu Wammako. The headache of PDP is how to rehabilitate Shagari, who has been a consistent PDP member in Sokoto.
“Concerning Imo State, PDP might adopt a 50-50 power sharing formula between its old members and anticipated defectors from APC like the embattled Deputy Governor, Eze Madumere, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, a former National Organizing Secretary of APC, Sen. Osita Izunaso and other heavyweights.
“But the original PDP members prefer a 70-30 power sharing ratio. And if Ararume defects to PDP, he would have foreclosed his governorship ambition. As it is now, a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha is the aspirant to beat and he has a firm grip on the party structure in the state.”
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