Members of the National Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party loyal to President Goodluck Jonathan will be proposing an amendment to the party’s constitution at today’s NEC meeting.
The amendment will give the President and governors currently serving their first tenure automatic ticket for the 2015 elections.
It was gathered that Jonathan’s loyalists would , through a motion at the meeting, seek the inclusion of “the right of first refusal” in the party’s constitution.
A source at the Wadata Plaza National Secretariat of the PDP Abuja, made this known just as the President met with the Sokoto State Governor, Aliyu Wamakko, and PDP leaders from the South-West, including ex-convict, Chief Olabode George.
The source said that if the motion, which is expected to be the high point of the crucial deliberations at the NEC meeting was approved, it would be taken to the national convention of the PDP for ratification on August 31, 2013.
Article 31, sub section (3) of the 2012 PDP Constitution as amended states, “The decision of the NEC shall be binding on all organs and members of the party.”
It was learnt that the strategists of the President had arranged that the motion should be moved by a distinguished politician from the North-West, who would be seconded by another top politician from the North- East.
The PUNCH also gathered that sustained efforts had been made to convince and co-opt state chapters of the PDP to embrace the idea.
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, had broached the idea of automatic tickets for the President and other elected office holders in the country in May.
Anenih, a staunch supporter of Jonathan, argued at a party’s family dinner in May that the fight for PDP’s tickets had always generated intra- party bitterness and tension even before main elections.
A PDP NEC member, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Wednesday, said “over 95 per cent of PDP members are in support of President Goodluck Jonathan vying for second term in office.”
He said, “All I know is that this doctrine of fresh refusal does not apply to President Jonathan, who will remain the candidate of the PDP in 2015. Ninety-five per cent of PDP members are supporting him to win the 2015 presidential election.”
When our correspondent contacted the Acting National Publicity secretary of the PDP, Mr. Tony Okeke, on the telephone, he picked but declined to make any comments on the issue.
• President meets Wamakko, PDP South- West leaders
Meanwhile, one of the five northern state governors, who visited some former Nigerian leaders over the state of the nation, Wamakko, on Wednesday met behind closed-doors with Jonathan.
The agenda of the meeting which the governor described as “routine” was not made public.
The meeting which took place inside the office of the President lasted about an hour. It was held shortly before the President met a delegation of the PDP from the South-West led by George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the party in the zone.
While the meeting was going on , Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State was also sighted at the Presidential Villa.
He however did not meet with the President and it was not clear as of press time whether he would return to the Villa or not.
When State House correspondents asked Wamakko what his meeting with the President was about, he said there was nothing unusual in his visiting the President.
He also claimed that his visit had nothing to do with the PDP NEC meeting today.
He however said the consultations he and his colleagues embarked on were still ongoing.
Wamako; Kwankwaso; Murtala Nyako (Adamawa); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); and Babangida Aliyu (Niger); had been consulting over the state of the nation and the PDP crises.
They had also met with Jonathan and the party’s National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur.
The South-West PDP leaders at the meeting with Jonathan were Senator Iyiola Omisore, Babatope, Senator Hosea Agboola, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, Senator Lekan Balogun, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Chief Kayode Adetokunbo, Elder Wole Oyelese and ministers from the zone.
The Vice-President, Namadi Sambo; the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak; and the Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadome were also at the meeting.
George, who was granted presidential pardon, told State House correspondents that they decided to meet with Jonathan on issues bordering on the party’s forthcoming mini-national convention and happenings in the zone, especially as they affected the position of the National Secretary.
He also told journalists that the August 31 special convention of the party would hold “irrespective of speculations.”
• Ex-PDP spokesman petitions CJN
A former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisah Metuh, has petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Muktah, over moves by some people to procure court orders to stop him from contesting the position.
Metuh told the CJN in the letter dated August 13, 2013, that a particular aspirant for the position was using surrogate plaintiffs to file cases in the courts to disqualify him.
• Oni asks court to stop S’West congress
A former Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Segun Oni, has asked an Ekiti State High Court to restrain the PDP from conducting the South-West congress scheduled for Saturday.
Oni, who was the immediate past National Chairman of the party, in a suit number HAD/67/013, also urged the court to stop the party from processing nomination forms for the post.