To have a rancour-free convention and install the national chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors will compile a “unity list” of candidates who delegates will vote for, The Nation learnt last night.
The list is said to be the governors’ joker to checkmate the influence of ex-military President Ibrahim Babangida and former President Goodluck Jonathan on delegates.
The “unity list” may be out on Friday, about 24 hours to the December 9 convention.
It was learnt that the North’s delegates had become divided over two candidates – former Acting National Chairman Uche Secondus and former Education Minister Prof. Tunde Adeniran.
Before the split, Adeniran was having a clear edge in the North over Secondus whose campaign has changed the game.
But the governors’ grip on the party has caused anxiety in the camp of ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar whose main backers are Babangida and Jonathan.
The tension in Atiku’s camp is over the fear that if the governors seize the machinery of the party, they may determine its choice of a presidential candidate.
Babangida on Sunday raised the alarm on huge deployment of cash to woo delegates.
The governors have reached out to ex-governors, ex-ministers, National Assembly caucuses and some members of the Board of Trustees (BoT).
They are believed to have allayed the fears of stakeholders who think that they are out to hijack the party. Their mission, the governors are quoted as saying, is to change the old order.
To carry all stakeholders along, the governors have chosen to consult and agree on a Unity List, which will be “representational”.
A governor, who spoke in confidence, said: “We want to have a stress-free elective national convention. We have been spending the past few days to build consensus on how to preserve the unity of the party.
“As I talk to you, we are working on a “Unity List” which will accommodate all interests and make the convention great.
“The list will also correct the perception of the loyalists of Babangida and Jonathan that we are out to destroy the party. This is our own way of checkmating the forces who have held the party hostage since 1998.
“The speculations about use of money are unfounded. As a new generation of leaders in PDP, we know what is good for the party too. We won’t allow the imposition any pre-determined agenda on delegates.”
Asked of who the governors will support for national chairman, the source, who pleaded not to be named for “strategic reasons”, added: “We are working on Secondus but the delegates will have the final say because we will allow a free and fair process.”
A member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) said: “Some of us are in agreement with the governors on the Unity List to douse the tension surrounding the convention.
“I think the governors will release the Unity List on Friday. What is important is for peace and harmony to reign in our party.”
Northern delegates are split over two Secondus and Adeniran.
“Initially, the Northern delegates had agreed on block voting but things have changed in the last 72 hours.
“Delegates from Plateau, Benue, Jigawa, Taraba, Gombe and Kano may not go ahead with block voting. The intrigues have been intense,” another source said, adding:
“As it is now, Northern delegates cannot talk with one voice at the convention on Saturday.”
It was gathered that the recourse to unity list by governors has caused anxiety in Atiku’s camp because the method may whittle down the influence of Babangida and Jonathan who lured the ex-Vice President back into PDP.”
A former governor said: “Once the governors take over PDP structure, it will be difficult for Babangida and Jonathan to impose Atiku as the party’s presidential candidate.
“This is why Babangida and his loyalists have been jittery about the activities of the governors. Even Atiku is aware of the danger ahead because he knows the capacity of governors.
“The same Atiku used the governors to hold ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to ransom in 2003 before the ex-President could get a second term ticket.”