Wike, Damagum’s fate hang in the balance as PDP holds NEC

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After months of political maneuvering and internal strife, the main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is gearing up for a crucial National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting scheduled for April 18, 2024.

This gathering is expected to be a watershed moment, determining the future trajectory of the party.

The PDP has been embroiled in turmoil since its presidential primary in May 2022, which was won by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. The primary saw a fierce contest with Nyesom Wike, the then Governor of Rivers State, emerging as the runner-up. However, efforts to reconcile the party following Wike’s loss have been unsuccessful, leading to various crises within its ranks.

The G5 governors, including Wike, who refused to support Atiku during the election, have further deepened the party’s internal divisions. Despite efforts by stakeholders to bridge the gap between Atiku’s supporters and those loyal to Wike, the party has struggled to find common ground.

The upcoming NEC meeting is seen as a crucial opportunity to address the challenges facing the party. It is expected to discuss various issues, including the resolution of internal disputes, disciplinary actions against members involved in anti-party activities, and the status of party leadership.

The NEC meeting, Daily Trust gathered, will look into the issues impeding the progress of the party, including what appropriate punishment, if any, should be meted out to those that involve themselves in anti-party activities, including the FCT Minister, who publicly declared that he did not work for Atiku Abubakar.

The suspension of the National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, and the status of the acting Chairman, Ambassador Umar Damagum, are also likely to be on the agenda. The NEC is also expected to decide on appropriate sanctions and possibly consider a change in leadership to steer the party forward.

Agitations for NEC

Governors elected on the PDP platform have called for the NEC meeting to be convened promptly to address these challenges. They have expressed confidence in the current NWC led by Umar Damagum and urged the committee to take decisive action to revamp the party.

Segun Showunmi, a prominent party member, has described the upcoming NEC meeting as “make or mar,” emphasizing its critical importance for the party’s future. He stressed that the decisions taken at the meeting will not only impact the next election but also determine the party’s survival in the long run.

Speaking with Daily Trust, Showunmi said, “This NEC is a make or mar meeting for the PDP because a lot of issues require the attention of the party members, and the members of the party and the Nigerian public have some minimum expectations as to how they expect the party to progress going forward. Whatever the NEC comes out with will have a far-reaching implication on the party, not only on the next election but also on the future and survival of the party.”

He said the state of the party, the constitution of the NWC, and the activities of members during the last election are issues that the NEC will look at, and the outcome will make or mar the party.

“I believe that deep thinking and sober reflection should help them to know what is expedient; once they come out of the NEC, people will be holding their breath to see the outcome of the meeting, and I hope that they take it with the seriousness that it deserves,” he added.

Despite the eagerness of many party members and Nigerians to see the outcome of the NEC meeting, the delay in convening the meeting was reportedly due to various reasons, including legal challenges stemming from the 2023 presidential election and the need to await the results of key governorship elections.

A source in the party told our correspondent that most of the PDP governors agreed that the party needs a total overhaul and that holding NEC without putting their acts together on what to do on the Wike issue and the status of Damagum will not augur well.

They also agreed that there was a need to wait for the outcome of the governorship elections in Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo. The thinking of the stakeholders was that members needed to concentrate on these governorship elections to see the outcome before deciding on the next line of action.

The outcome of the NEC meeting is therefore expected to shape the future of the PDP and its role as the main opposition party in Nigeria. It remains to be seen whether the party can overcome its internal challenges and emerge stronger from this critical juncture.

Speaking on the significance of the NEC meeting, Umar Ibrahim Tsauri, a former National Secretary of the party, emphasized the importance of the agenda set by the NWC and the role of NEC members in approving or objecting to it.

He stated, “The agenda of the NEC is always prepared by the NWC… So, they are the ones that will steer us towards what will be discussed.” Tsauri highlighted key issues such as the status of the National Chairman in an acting capacity and the replacement of the Woman Leader that are expected to be on the agenda.

In another instance, Ambassador Umar Damagum, the acting chairman of the party, reiterated the need for unity within the PDP and cautioned against causing further crises. He remarked, “My duty is to stabilize this party and not to cause a crisis… If Wike believes he is above this party, we will be able to show him that he is not above this party.”

Party leadership

Daily Trust also learnt that one of the thorny issues that will shape the outcome of the NEC meeting is whether the current leadership of the party has done enough to remain in the saddle or if there will be a change of guard. This is because many of the stakeholders are divided on whether to keep Damagun in the saddle or change the status quo.

Even the governors of the party are said to be seeking an alternative for who leads the party going forward.

Even though names like former Senate President Bukola Saraki and former Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam have been mentioned, nothing concrete has been put forward in that direction.

A source among the current leaders said, “There will be a review of the situation since Ayu left as chairman, and they will see how the new leadership has performed; that will determine the next line of action.”

Some members of the party are also insisting that the position of National Chairman should be given to the North Central to complete the tenure of Ayu.

Those who are in this school of thought said it was unfair to allow Damagum, who hails from the North East, to continue in office.

But speaking recently on the way forward, Suswam said the party is being undermined by external forces, which has rendered it ineffective as a viable opposition.  

He lamented that the party has, since the 2023 general election, failed to live up to the expectations of Nigerians as a viable opposition.

Suswam, who blamed the current PDP leadership for the state of the party, said unless there is a change of leadership, the party will not make progress.

“The party is being undermined by external force, which has rendered it ineffective as a viable opposition. Unless there is a change of leadership, the party will not make progress,” he said.

 



Source link: Daily Trust/

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