Confusion broke out at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Caucus meeting on Monday night, forcing National Chairman Dr Iyorcha Ayu to abruptly reschedule proceedings till today.
The uproar at the meeting was triggered by the insistence of some leaders from the South that members, who defected from the party to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the past and returned, should be excluded from seeking the 2023 presidential ticket.
A vocal governor from the South, according to sources, spearheaded the call.
Atiku, former Senate President Bukola Saraki; former Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso and Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal are among prominent PDP chieftains that defected to the APC in the run-up to the 2015 general election.
However, they all returned to PDP following irreconcilable differences with the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency and the APC leadership. Some of the returnees won and lost elections in 2019 on the platform of the PDP.
They are all believed to be eyeing the party’s presidential ticket.
Those canvassing the exclusion of former defectors argued that their defection to APC was the major reason PDP lost power in 2015. They were said to have argued that the PDP found itself in the opposition today because of their past actions.
The southern power brokers in the party, who were also reported to have insisted on zoning of the ticket to their region, pointed out that the failure of former President Goodluck Jonathan to respect the zoning arrangement for the 2015 election led to the mass defection that hit PDP.
But some members, mainly from the North, reportedly countered the arguments, saying the call for exclusion was not only a distraction but a witchhunt of the returnees.
A source close to the meeting said: “We are all aware that these same people contested elections in 2019 on the platform of PDP after returning to our great party.
”If nobody called for their exclusion in 2019, on what grounds are they calling for their disqualification now?
”It is quite unfortunate that some people have been carrying on as if PDP is their personal property.
”We need to make it clear that some people built PDP from scratch to become what it is today. So people should stop conducting themselves as if they are the owners of the party. We all have an equal stake in PDP.”
Stating their case further, they declared that it’s against the spirit of the PDP constitution and the 1999 Constitution to prevent interested members from seeking the party’s ticket for any elective position.
Another source told The Nation that when the disagreement degenerated, Dr Ayu brought the meeting to close.
Consequently, the meetings of the National Caucus, the Board of Trustees (BoT) and National Executive Committee (NEC) which were to hold yesterday were all shifted to today to allow for further consultations.
Those at the National Caucus meeting included former Vice-President Namadi Sambo; BoT Chairman Walid Jibrin; Atiku; Senator Ike Ekweremadu; former PDP Chairman Okwesilieze Nwodo; and Saraki.
Ten PDP governors; former Senate Presidents Anyim Pius Anyim and Adolphus Wabara; Senator Ahmed Makarfi; Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe; Abubakar Baraje; Ndudi Elumelu; and Chief Bode George were also in attendance.