Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Thursday rushed to former Military President Ibrahim Babangida to join forces with other founders of the party to save the situation out of fear that governors may “hijack” Saturday’s National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The ex-Vice President, who has met with some of the governors, was suspecting that they might be working for another presidential aspirant.
He believes once the governors take control of the party, he may be at their mercy.
The ex-VP is insisting on a level-playing ground at the convention for the emergence of true leaders, who can conduct presidential primaries next year without prejudice.
Former Delta State Governor James Ibori and some ex-governors have joined forces with Atiku to checkmate the PDP governors being coordinated by Governor Nyesom Wike
For the umpteenth time, Babangida on Wednesday warned the Chairman of the party’s Caretaker Committee, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, and others against monetisation of the convention.
He told Makarfi, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and others on Wednesday that if they installed a national chairman under such atmosphere, PDP should forget returning to power in 2019.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the real reason Atiku was in Minna yesterday was his anxiety over a plot by the governors to take over the party and dictate who gets what in 2019.
A source said: “The ex-VP was in Minna. He does not want the governors to abort his dream to secure the presidential ticket of the party .
“Although he has met with Wike, Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu and some PDP governors, he is not comfortable with the plot by governors to hijack the structure of the party.
“It is obvious that the governors have their agenda, including plans to foist on PDP a presidential candidate who will do their bidding. They have covert plans to stop Atiku from being PDP flag bearer in 2019.”
According to the source, some of the governors are believed to be plotting to lure a Northern governor from the All Progressives Congress(APC) into the opposition party and make him a presidential candidate.
“This was why Atiku and his loyalists, including Ibori, have been jittery. Ibori and other ex-governors have been working hard to whittle down the influence of the governors to put in place a National Working Committee (NWC) which will be sympathetic to Atiku’s presidential ambition,” the source said, adding:
“Without getting it right at the convention, Atiku will be left in the lurch. It is really a battle of survival for him. Babangida and ex-President Goodluck Jonathan have been working hard to assist Atiku by putting a supportive National Working Committee(NWC) in place.”
Babangida on Wednesday told Makarfi, Okowa and other members of the National Convention Planning Committee that “it will be counter-productive for PDP after the convention if they install a money-induced National Chairman,” a source privy to the meeting said.
He advised Makarfi and his team to “give a sense of belonging to all candidates and elect a chairman who has a national outlook”.
He was said to have added a caveat: “Install a monetised National Chairman, forget PDP’s return to power in 2019.”
But Makarfi said they were in Minna to “brief Babangida about the preparation for the National Convention and to reassure him of a level-playing field for all.
“We have no preference for any candidate because we want the party to remain stronger and peaceful after the convention”, Makarfi added.
Babangida is believed to have sent emissaries to Wike to prevail on him to have “a rethink on Prince Uche Secondus” as national chairman.
One of the emissaries who met Wike is a former National Security Adviser Gen. Aliyu Gusau.
All is not well in the Babangida-Jonathan camp following moves by some of their supporters to dump a former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, for either ex-Governor Gbenga Daniel or Chief Raymond Dokpesi.
Another source said: “Sensing danger of another joker from Babangida’s camp, Wike and the PDP chairman in Edo State, Chief Dan Orbih met with Dokpesi at the residence of a former national leader of the party, Chief Tony Anenih on Wednesday night to persuade the media mogul to step down.
“The governors told Dokpesi to forgo his ambition because they don’t want him to be disgraced at the convention. They said they were hell-bent on Secondus because he helped eight out of 11 governors to secure the mandate of the PDP. They said it was payback time.
“The meeting in Anenih’s house ended in deadlock.
“Some governors later offered to write off campaign expenses of Dokpesi but the media mogul said ‘I am not in this race because of money.’ He said even if he will get a vote, he will contest for national chairman.”
In a follow-up statement last night through his Media Adviser, Ide Eguabor, the AIT boss said: “It has come to my attention and that of the Raymond Dokpesi Campaign Organisation that speculations are rife to the effect that our Principal Dr. Raymond Dokpesi has succumbed to political pressure and agreed to drop out of the race for the office of the national chairman of our great party. Nothing can indeed be further from the truth.
“Chief Dokpesi is not only a front runner but remains the aspirant to beat at the convention grounds on Saturday.
“We urge teeming members and party delegates to disregard and ignore such cheap and diversionary antics aimed at causing I’ll wind in the PDP. Chief Dokpesi will not step down and those who wish so are advised to redirect their energies to campaigns that will benefit their aspirants rather dissipate positive energy in negative direction.
“The national convention is the first effort by the PDP since inception at entrenching an internal democratic process that will lead deepen our democracy.
“Let him who is running behind in this race remain behind or run faster than the man in front. The impunity and imposition of the past has long gone out of fashion.
“The delegates will decide every contestant’s fate and we should all agree to abide by the convention decision. The process must be free, fair and credible.
There was a heavy deployment of cash by some stakeholders with each of the 2,800 delegates being promised N500,000 to do their bidding.