Interest groups within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are set to engage each other in an open war for the control of the party as the race for 2019 presidential election gets underway in the new year.
A competent source within the party told our correspondents that some power brokers within the party who seemed united towards the convention held last weekend have since commenced underground moves to outwit one another in the battle for the control of the party.
Speaking under anonymity, the source, a serving senator, disclosed that the position of the vice presidential candidate of the party may eventually turn out more acrimonious than the fight for the presidential ticket given the fact that personalities who are angling for it cut across two geopolitical zones while the presidential ticket from all indications might be easily resolved by the Northern leaders who almost, always, speak with one voice.
According to a staunch PDP member, the emergence of Prince Uche Secondus from the South-South region has changed the equation in the party as the initial plans on how to share the major offices in the country has changed radically.
According to our source, the Office of the National Chairman ab initio was to be occupied by the South-West with the vice president position reserved for the South-East, while the North picks the presidential ticket as well as the speaker of the House of Representatives while the Senate president seat would have been occupied by someone from the South-South, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) allocated to the North.
But the sudden change of allocation given the emergence of Secondus as national chairman has thrown open the seat of vice president between the South-West and the South-East with strong gladiators from both sides ready to give their all for the seat.
It was gathered that Governor Ayodele Fayose intentionally refused to force adherence to the agreement reached by Southern leaders in Port Harcourt in May 2016 at the national convention, where it was unanimously agreed that the South-West will take the chairmanship while the deputy national chairman, South, will go to the South-South and vice presidential ticket was given to the South-East.
The governor, our source said, had a personal ambition of picking the vice presidential slot and he is to run with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the party.
The move by the governor, it was said, has pitched him against some very big interests in the South-East, who are already rooting for Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu as the potential candidate for the vice presidential slot when and if the seat is eventually given to the South-East.
Already, some interests within the party, even in the South-West, are already working against the possible emergence of Fayose as vice presidential candidate of the party in an event the seat is eventually hijacked from the South-East and used as a compensation to the South-West following their loss of the chairmanship seat to the South-South.
The new equation in the party, our source said, is the possible reversal of the Senate president seat to the South-East in the event the South-West insists on having the vice president slot.
In this wise, Ekweremadu, it was said, may be asked to return to the Senate in a bid to taking up the Senate president seat on behalf of the PDP should the party enjoy the majority in the upper chamber in 2019.
“The peace of the graveyard existing among power brokers in our party is better imagined. I just can’t fathom how it’s going to be resolved without an implosion.
“One thing is certain, the decision to change the sharing arrangement which has seen Prince Uche Secondus emerge as the chairman will have a ripple effect which if not properly handled, might result into a big crisis for our party.
“Take as a liar anyone who says the Southern leaders of the party did not agree on micro-zoning of the chairmanship to the South-West last year, such a person is being economical with the truth. But the main fact is that interests have changed, and those who feel they own the ace have done what they wanted.
“What we need now is how to move forward. Will the South-West agree to let go of the vice president slot in the interest of the party or will they also insist on having it? That’s the biggest challenge now because the seat was initially given to the South-East in principle.
“Now that gentleman agreement will no longer work, I doubt if the South-West will agree to let it be maintained in the South-East while they wait on the general election and take the Senate president seat if the PDP eventually gets the majority of seats in the upper legislative chamber”, the source said.
Another member of the party, who is a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC), while speaking with our correspondents specifically said that the major problem of the party would be the decision of some persons to take absolute control of the party which runs contrary to what obtained in the party in the past.
“One can only wait and see what will happen when the expected fight between Governor Ayodele Fayose and Governor Nyesome Wike of River State will burst into the public domain because as it stands the plans of Fayose to become the vice presidential candidate of our party will not materialise because Governor Wike has turned his back on him.
“Take it to the bank, the South-West will be compensated for the loss of the chairmanship position with the vice presidential slot and it will be given to Governor Olusegun Mimiko who is seen as a more cerebral and calm person who will be easily more marketable across the country far easier than Governor Fayose.
“The reaction of the South-East might also not be palatable as there is going to be a big fight by leaders of the zone who definitely will feel shortchanged after helping the ‘new Don’ from the South-South in achieving his aim of having the party in his kitty.
“The last option for the South-East will be to accept the Senate presidency which is still in the realm of the dream as no-one is sure of how the states will vote in the parliamentary elections”, the source said.