The tension over the National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) heightened yesterday with the founding fathers of the party, loyalists of former President Ibrahim Babangida and ex-President Goodluck Jonathan launching a counter plot against governors.
Apart from breaking the ranks of the governors, the founding fathers, who are being led by Babangida and Jonathan, are also said to be tinkering with a “National List” for delegates to avert a post-convention crisis.
The founders of the party, including members of the Board of Trustees, have remained adamant on the zoning of National Chairman to the Southwest.
It was also learnt that there is pressure on Dr. Jonathan to call the PDP governors, who are being coordinated by Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and Ayo Fayose, to order.
Although it was gathered that there was an informal meeting between Jonathan and Wike recently, the governors have insisted on leaving open the contest for National Chairman.
The struggle for the PDP chairmanship is a straight battle between former Acting National Chairman Uche Secondus and former Minister of Education Prof. Tunde Adeniran.
As Babangida’s loyalists, Jonathan’s supporters, ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s as well as many founding fathers of the party have been adamant on ceding the chairmanship to the Southwest, with Adeniran as the rallying point.
Babangida and other bigwigs in PDP have launched a counter plot against the adamant governors, The nation learnt.
One of the offers being tinkered is the compilation of a “National List” for delegates to counter the “Unity List” proposed by the governors.
Another option, which Jonathan was mandated to sell to the governors, is the possibility of making Secondus Deputy National Chairman (South) to Adeniran as chairman.
Alternatively, the founding fathers may break the ranks of the governors and have their way on Adeniran at the National Convention.
A source said: “The founding fathers of PDP, including Babangida, Jonathan, Atiku and others, have been discussing how to reduce tension at the convention.
“They have sent emissaries to Wike, Fayose and others on why the Southwest should produce the National Chairman.
“As I talk to you, these top leaders, who are the conscience of the party, are also working on a National List, which will integrate all the candidates. They want a win-win situation for all. Topmost on the deal being proposed in the National List is the possibility of making Secondus to return to office as the Deputy National Chairman (South) of the party with Adeniran as the national chairman.
“This (National List) is a campaign item which Adeniran camp will hammer on in the next 48 hours. Whether or not this proposal will be acceptable to the governors is another matter.”
A member of the BOT however said: “The governors, especially those from the Southsouth, have put ex-President Jonathan under pressure to convince the zone to concede the office of National Chairman to the Southwest.
“What the party is looking at is national integration, which will serve as a template for the acceptance of PDP by Nigerians in 2019.
“I am aware that it was in this context that Jonathan forgave ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar and he is aligning himself with national leaders to allow the Southwest get the slot of national chairman.
“Definitely, all eyes are on Jonathan to persuade these governors, who installed through sheer political benevolence.”
There were indications that the founding fathers have Plan B to break the ranks of the governors.
Some sources confirmed that these leaders have succeeded in wooing some governors against following Wike and Fayose.
A governor said: “While Wike and Fayose might be coordinating a few things related to the PDP Governors Forum, I can tell you that we are not all on the same page as far as the election of National Chairman is concerned.
“I think governors from Delta, Abia, Ebonyi, Cross River, Enugu, Gombe and Taraba have largely been independent-minded.
I am aware that the Governor of Bayelsa, Henry Seriake-Dickson, has done a yeoman’s job on the unity and reconciliation of all PDP leaders and members. In fact, Dickson made the party to survive to this stage.”
On the deal being proposed, Secondus Campaign Organisation spokesman Ike Abonyi said: “Well, I think we have passed the stage of our candidate being Deputy National Chairman.
Secondus has just rounded off his campaign on Wednesday with shuttles to Borno, Bauchi and Adamawa in order to complete a cycle of 36 states.”