After months of bickering over who heads the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following its loss of power in last year’s elections, the party now appears set to pick its new chairman.
Barring any disruption, the North-East zone of the PDP is due to recommend its preferred choice for the position at a meeting in Gombe on Tuesday.
There are three leading candidates to pick from: National Vice Chairman (North-East) of the party, Girigiri Lawal; Second Republic governor of the old Gongola State, Wilberforce Juta and ex-Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed.
The Gombe meeting may be followed by an emergency meeting of the PDP National Executive Committee to ratify the North-East nomination.
Former Special Adviser on Political Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak is effectively out of contention after losing the goodwill of PDP governors, members of the National Executive Committee and the National Working Committee (NWC).
But the nomination of a new chairman from the North-East may lead to the postponement of the National Convention of the party by six months.
A well placed party source said the governors, the Board of Trustees and other stakeholders of the party have reached a consensus to concede the chairmanship slot to the North-East in line with the judgment of a High Court.
The source said: “We are getting closer to the resolution of the crisis rocking this party.
“We all met on Wednesday and resolved to retain the chairmanship slot in the North-East to complete the tenure of the former chairman, Ahmed Muazu.
“We have mandated the states in the North-East to meet on Tuesday or Wednesday to recommend a candidate to fill the vacant slot. The NEC will thereafter proceed to ratify the nominee on Thursday.
“At our last meeting, the three leading candidates leading candidates were the National Vice Chairman (North-East) of the party, Girigiri Lawal , ex-Governor of the defunct Gongola State, Wilberforce Juta and ex-Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed.
“But we are hopeful that more candidates may show interest on or before the zonal meeting. If we do not give the slot to the North-East, the PDP will technically die in the face of the law.
“Although Gulak is laying claim to the seat, all the governors, BOT members and other stalwarts have foreclosed his choice because of the manner in which he invaded the National Secretariat of PDP and declared himself as the new National Chairman.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “The Acting National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus will revert to his position as the Deputy National Chairman.
“With this mutual understanding, the National Convention of PDP is no longer realistic in March. We may postpone the election of new national officers by six months. The timeline will enable us to reorganize the party.”
Apart from losing the support of PDP governors and other top national leaders of the party, Gulak has also lost the confidence of the majority of party members in his home state of Adamawa.
Party leaders in the state are throwing their support behind Juta.
The State Working Committee of the PDP, in a statement on Friday, rejected Gulak’s candidature for PDP chairmanship.
The state chairman, Chief Joel Madaki, said: “The State Working Committee of PDP Adamawa state chapter, after due consultation with party stakeholders in the state and beyond, and having thoroughly deliberated on the issues of the position of National Chairman of the party has resolved as follows:
“That, it is in the best interest of the party in the state that the position of the national chairman of the party returns to Adamawa state.
“That, it is hereby resolved to support the candidature of Ambassador Wilberforce B. Juta, a former Governor of the defunct Gongola state, one of the founding members of PDP, a member of G34, first National Vice Chairman (North East) of the party and currently a member of its Board Trustees for the exalted post of the National Chairman of the PDP.
“That, the party is calling up on all other interested members to patriotically lay down their personal ambition for the heighten interests of the party in Adamawa state.”