The sign that the meeting might be stormy emerged from the meetings of the National Caucus and the Board of Trustees (BoT) held on Monday and Tuesday respectively where several members complained about some recent developments in the party. The two meetings endorsed the proposal of the National Working Committee (NWC) to tinker with the some parts of the party constitution perceived to be lopsided particularly, as they affect elections and the number of delegates to the National Convention and state congresses.
The partyâ€™s constitution as it is now confers some advantages on the sitting governors of the party but the present leadership of the PDP at the national level is of the opinion that such advantages do not provide for internal democracy and need to be fine-tuned.
But there was cheery news for the party yesterday as Governor Theordore Orji of Abia State returned to the party officially. Orji who came to the PDP national secretariat with his Ebonyi State counterpart, Martins Elechi said the people of Abia had been yearning for a true democracy and it finally came with his return to the party.
The partyâ€™s governors are also said not to be comfortable with the e-registration which the leadership of the party has introduced. President Goodluck Jonathan and his deputy, Namadi Sambo, did their on-line registration last week and the party intends to extend the exercise to all its chapters nationwide. However, the governors of the party felt that such practice would shrink the number of eligible voters because of the terrain of the country whereby some members of the party might find it difficult to access registration points which are some banks earmarked for the exercise. The governors are also of the position that the sum of N1,200 being charged for membership card is high for some people to afford.
The position of the governors, sources said, has been adopted by some chieftains of the party who argue that some states had tried e-registration for some projects in their states and the exercise ran into a hitch.
To this end, the governors of the party met in Abuja on Tuesday night to take a position on the matter. The Guardian learnt that they resolved to oppose the idea at the NEC meeting today. But addressing journalists after the meeting on Tuesday, the Chairman of Forum of PDP Governors and Governor of Kwara State, Dr Bukola Saraki merely said that the governors met to take a position on some issues.
â€œIt is a discussion among members of PDP. We have a series of meetings coming up this week, BoT and NEC on Thursday. So, we need to meet and check some of our views and take a common position on some of the items and present it as a partyâ€™â€™, he said.
The Guardian further learnt that the governors are ready to ensure that the issue of zoning of the presidential candidate of the party for the 2011 election is not discussed because they believe that in view of the controversy generated so far by the matter, there is need for further consultations.
But the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali, denied any division in the party, saying that it was a unanimous decision of the party to improve electoral process in the country.
â€œI can tell you that there is nothing like division among NWC members. As a matter of fact, the NWC has never operated in a more cohesive manner than now. We act jointly on all issues and that is why a lot of progress is being recorded. The project, if implemented, will show Nigerians that we can do things correctly and transparently in this countryâ€™â€™, he said.
Meanwhile, Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji returned to the PDP accompanied by stalwarts of PDP in the state, including chairman of the reconciliation committee, Maj-Gen. Ike Nwachukwu (rtd); former governorship candidate of PDP in the state, Onyema Ugochukwu; former Minister for Foreign Affairs , Chief Ojo Madueke.
â€œSince 2003, we have not sat like this, but together we are moving the state forward. We want to install true democracy because there was no true democracy. A new dawn has started and we will give everyone a sense of belonging. We have been able to liberate Abia State and we should sustain itâ€™â€™, he said.
The National Chairman of the party, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, said: â€œWe went to Abia State looking for the missing rib and I am happy that it has come back. We are beginning to see a new face of democracy. The kind that is practised in advanced democracy. Things are beginning to change for the better. For this people to sit together is something to celebrate. This is a thing we can take to other places. We can disagree but not for eternity. Enmity is primitive and anachronistic. If you knew the gulf between them, you would know that history is being madeâ€.
In a related event, barely a week after the Executive Committee of the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party (PDP), Abia State Chapter was dissolved by the Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo-led leadership, an Abuja High Court yesterday restrained the national leadership from going ahead with constituting a new state committee.
The court reached the decision following an application by a governorship aspirant of the party, Reagan Ufomba praying it to order the defendants to maintain the status quo pending the hearing and determination of the pending suit.
Ufomba had instituted a suit through his counsel, Paul Eshiemomoh against Nwodo, the partyâ€™s National Vice Chairman, South East, Olisa Metu and Chidi Okereke over the dissolution of the State Executive Committee.
Ruling on the said request, Justice Kekemeke U.P. directed all parties in the suit to maintain the status quo pending the hearing and determination of the suit before him.
Also, the Bauchi State chapter of the party disowned the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, as a member of the party in spite of his alleged declaration.
Secretary of PDP Caretaker Committee in the state, Alhaji Samaila Adamu Burga, made this declaration in a letter dated August 6 and addressed to the FCT minister.
The minister had on Monday organised a reception in Alkaleri Local Government Area of the state where he declared himself as a member of the party.
Burga said that the party in the state did not recognise Mohammedâ€™s defection from ANPP to PDP because he did not follow the rules and regulations in the partyâ€™s constitution.
Nigerian Governors vow to resist reform
Abia gov returns to PDP
Bauchi chapter disowns FCT minister