There were indications in Abuja on Tuesday that the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party may clash with governors elected on the party’s platform over what it considers as indiscriminate endorsement of some governorship aspirants in their states.
Investigations showed that the PDP leadership was not happy that despite its warnings, some governors were openly endorsing those that would succeed them.
The PDP, according to a source close to its Wadata Plaza headquarters in Abuja, feels that the actions of the governors are capable of causing divisions among its members in the affected states.
Already, members of the party in some states like Enugu and Abia are said to be angry with happenings in their states.
The Governor of Enugu State, Mr. Suliivan Chime, has already announced Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as his choice candidate, an action already causing ripples among the members of the party in the state.
Chime has however defended his action, saying that only Sen. Ayogu Eze, another governorship aspirant, had expressed reservation.
The governors are said to be relying on the role they played in paving the way for President Goodluck Jonathan to be endorsed as the PDP sole presidential candidate of the party for the 2015 election.
It was gathered that the governors’ plan was also making some ministers to be having a rethink about their desire to contest the governorship elections in their states.
Among such ministers are Bala Mohammed (FCT); Musiliu Obanikoro (state, Defence); Emeka Wogu (Labour); Nyesom Wike(state, Education); Labaran Maku (Information), Kabiru Turaki (Special Duties); Bashir Yuguda (state, Finance); and Samuel Ortom (state, Trade and Investment).
While Obanikoro wants to rule Lagos, Wogu is interested in becoming the next governor of Abia State. Wike on his part has been nursing the ambition of ruling Rivers State.
Maku is interested in taking over in Nasarawa State while Turaki, a former governorship aspirant on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, is interested in taking over from Governor Saidu Dankingari in Kebbi State. Yuguda is interested in becoming the next governor of Zamfara State.
Ortom hopes to succeed Gabriel Suswan in Benue State while Mohammed is planning to take over from Isa Yiguda in Bauchi State.
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, is said to be considering contesting the position of a senator from Imo State.
Two of the ministers, who spoke with our correspondent in Abuja, however, said they and their colleagues were now wary of leaving because of the unwritten agreement between the President and the governors .
“How do we leave certainty for uncertainty?”, one of them asked. The other said only aspirants in states ruled by the opposition parties could be bold enough to take such a gamble.
A member of the National Working Committee of the PDP said the endorsement of some aspirants by the governors would deprive the national headquarters of the PDP from making money from the sale of nomination forms.
He said, “Imagine a party that is this broke and one of the major areas from which we get money is through the selling of nomination and expression of interest forms.
“How then do we make enough money when governors are busy endorsing candidates thereby scaring other aspirants away from their states?
“It is that bad that they are ignoring our warning not to be part of this. I know that they are doing this because we all endorsed the President as our sole candidate.”
Efforts made to speak with the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Olisa Metuh, on the issue on Tuesday were not successful as he did not pick his call.
He also did not respond to a text message sent to his mobile telephone.
Metuh had however in a statement on Thursday warned state chapters of the party and governors against endorsing any governorship aspirant.
Arguing that only the NEC of the party had such powers, he said the PDP National Working Committee had noticed that some persons were already anointing some aspirants for the position of governors.
Stating however that the party was not against this, he warned elected party officials at the state level not to be part of those anointing candidates.
He had said, “The NWC has noted the activities of some persons and groups supporting some aspirants for the 2015 general election at the state level.
“Whilst the party cannot stop individuals, groups or communities from endorsing persons of their choice, the national leadership wishes to restate in the strongest possible terms that elected party officials at the state, local government and ward levels must not be involved in such, as they must remain as unbiased umpires in the nomination process.
“For the avoidance of doubt, only the National Executive Committee, as an organ of the party can officially endorse a candidate under the PDP constitution. All party officials at all levels are expected to be guided by this.”
No governorship aspirant has turned up to pick the party’s nomination form of N11m which closes on October 30.