Scramble for PDP

Ahead of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting scheduled for April 17 and 18, the festering crisis in the party is taking a different dimension.

Saturday Sun gathered that governors, senators and members of the House of Representatives are divided as intrigues and political calculations for the control of the party take the center stage.

The battle for the soul of the party is between former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, who was the presidential candidate of the party in 2023, and former governor of Rivers State, now Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike. While Wike is believed to be firmly in charge of the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives’ caucuses, Atiku on the other hand has some governors on his side.

Party sources hinted that it was Wike who installed the leaders of the PDP Senate and House of Representatives’ caucuses, against the wish of some stakeholders in the party. He is also believed to be in control of a sizeable number of members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, as well as state chairmen of the party.

The FCT minister, Saturday Sun gathered, has a number of serving PDP governors on his side, including the governors of Bauchi, Oyo, Plateau, Zamfara and Taraba States.

On the other hand, governors of Bayelsa, Edo, Rivers, Delta, Adamawa and Akwa Ibom, are said to be firmly rooting for the former Vice President. 

In the Senate, the PDP caucus is still said to be intact, with Abba Moro holding sway as minority leader. Though there are opposing views from the House of Representatives’ PDP caucus, Wike’s ally, Kingsley Chinda, has maintained that there is no crisis in the caucus.

Within the NWC, the acting chairman, Umar Ililya Damagum, has been repeatedly accused of being loyal to Wike, who some party leaders say played a major role in his emergence, following the sack of Iyorchia Ayu.

For his perceived alliance with the Wike camp, Atiku and his allies are pushing relentlessly for the removal of Damagum as acting chairman in order to return the position to North Central where Ayu comes from. However, top party officials believe that the plan may not succeed as the Atiku camp has so far failed to galvanize the needed support to decimate Wike’s base.

One of the leaders said the fight is a prelude to what is expected ahead of the 2027 presidential elections. He said new generation leaders in the PDP are determined to stop Atiku from securing the ticket to run against Bola Tinubu of the APC.

The Wike’s camp, our reporters gathered, are working towards fielding Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, who is also at loggerheads with Atiku.

The projection within the party is that if Damagum survives his planned removal during the NEC meeting, then, that may signal the end of Atiku’s grip on the structure of the PDP.

“Atiku and Wike are fighting big battles. Atiku wants to run again in 2027. Even those who are opposed to the idea are still fighting Wike because they see him as the enemy. Unfortunately, Atiku doesn’t have the needed number to affect the removal of the acting chairman of the PDP.

“He’s believed to be a key loyalist of Wike. Some governors don’t want Atiku too to control the party. So, they’re aligning with Wike to take back the party from old forces in the PDP. This NEC meeting is going to be decisive for the Wike and Atiku camps.

“If the fallout from that NEC is not properly managed, the PDP may never recover from it before 2027 elections. You know that campaigns will commence next year, and the party is divided,” a party leader told Saturday Sun

The crisis in the party began in 2022, even before the emergence of Atiku as the presidential flag bearer in the 2023 general elections. As the crisis continued, and when it became obvious that he would not get the PDP presidential ticket, former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi left the party and later got the presidential ticket of the Labour Party (LP). The crisis snowballed after the emergence of Atiku as the party’s standard bearer. Wike, whose conditions for supporting Atiku were not met, refused to support the former vice president. The crisis led to the poor outing of the party during the 2023 general elections.

The post-election crisis consumed the national chairman of the party, Ayu, who was sacked by a court, making way for the emergence of Damagum, national deputy chairman, North, to replaced Ayu in an acting capacity.

Since then, leaders of the party have tried without success to resolve the face-off between Wike and Atiku. The gulf has continued to widen, and different organs of the party have taken sides.



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