12th August, 2010
The 52nd National Executive Committee meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party kicked off at about 1:40 pm at the Partyâ€™s National Secretariat in Abuja. This is the first since the assumption of Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo who took over from Prince Vincent Ogbulafor in the wake of his ouster from office on allegation of corruption.
The Vice President as well as all other Governors except those of Kaduna and Plateau, elected on the partyâ€™s platform were at the meeting. The Deputy Governors of Plateau and Kaduna represented their principals at the meeting. Likewise, all former Chairmen and Board of Trustee Chairmen were also in attendance.
In his opening remark, the partyâ€™s chairman, Dr. Nwodo outlined the efforts being made by the leadership of the party to restore and entrench internal democracy in the PDP. He reiterated his resolve to transform and reinvent the party as well as update its manifesto so as to prepare their candidates for service delivery to the benefit of the electorates.
The party chairman also stated that the partyâ€™s current manual register will soon be discarded to make room for the take off of the electronic membership register which process is currently ongoing.
On the highly sensitive issue of zoning, Nwodo stated that rotation of presidency is enshrined in the party for the purpose of fair play and equitable distribution of federal appointments. He noted that contrary to the position of the opposition parties, that the PDP has not discarded zoning. He observed that when the position of the office of the Vice President became vacant following the elevation of Goodluck Jonathan as President, that the party focused on the North and that when the Party Chairmanâ€™s office became vacant, that the party narrowed their search to the East.
On the National Assembly, the chairman further noted that principal officersâ€™ positions were evenly distributed to represent all sections of the country as well as Chairmanship and Councillorship slots which the party rotates accordingly. With this, Nwodo wondered why the partyâ€™s distracters would accuse it of abandoning the zoning principle.
On the candidacy of Goodluck Jonathan in the forthcoming Presidential election, Nwodo went down memory lane to what transpired in 1999 when the party zoned the Presidency to the South and the late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi invoked his constitutional right to contest for President and the party allowed him. He also stated that in 2003, other candidates contested the partyâ€™s primaries against incumbent President Olusegun Obasanjo who later emerged winner at the primaries.
Laying the foundation for the partyâ€™s endorsement of Goodluckâ€™a candidacy, the chairman maintained that the party did not envisage the death of a serving President in their zoning formula and that if Late Umar Musa Yarâ€™Adua is alive today, that no one would have denied him his right to run for a second term of office.
According to the Chairman, â€œBy the dictate of our nationâ€™s constitution, Goodluck Jonathan is our President today, if our dear late former President is alive, no one would have denied him his right to a second term. Jonathan is part and parcel of that mandate. However, our party will not stop any member who wants to contest from doing soâ€
Nwodo also pointed out an event which played out in Adamawa state in 1999 when the Governor â€“ elect, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was adopted by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as his running mate, that Boni Haruna who was the then Deputy Governor elect was declared a beneficiary of that mandate and went ahead to do two terms in office as Governor of the state. He urged members to seize the current tide and act accordingly.
In his address, President Goodluck Jonathan urged all party members not to allow the opposition parties to cause them to disintegrate noting that opposition parties are merely waiting to benefit from a fractured PDP.
President Goodluck also used to forum to present the status report on his administrationâ€™s drive to improve the energy situation in the country as well as the efforts geared towards the improvement of the Nigeria Police Force to enable them stem the rising wave of crimes in the nation. He also supported the immunity clause in the constitution which he said is necessary to forestall the distraction of elected officials through litigations which often last as long as the life of the elected officialâ€™s tenure.
The President observed that opposition parties have predicted the victory of the PDP in 2011 general elections going by the way they are spearheading the issue of zoning which he said is entirely an internal affair of the PDP.
â€”Nnamdi Felix / Abuja