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Atiku, Wike Camps intensify Battle for Soul of PDP with Damagum staying till 2025 convention

by Vicky Oselumese
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Atiku, Wike Camps intensify Battle for Soul of PDP with Damagum staying till 2025 convention

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is currently embroiled in a power struggle between the pro-Atiku and pro-Wike camps. Despite the recent decision of the party’s National Executive Committee (NWC) to retain Ambassador Umar Ilya Damagum as the acting National Chairman until at least August or September, the plot thickens as both camps vie for control over the party’s upcoming national convention.

The party’s decision to retain Damagum was supposedly aimed at facilitating reconciliation and peace-building within the party. However, party sources reveal that both camps are strategizing to gain control over the conduct of the national convention, which will play a crucial role in shaping the party’s direction leading up to the 2027 elections.

The Test of Strength

While some observers believe that the Wike camp emerged victorious at the recent NEC meeting, sources suggest that the true test of strength between the two sides will occur over the next few months during the party’s congresses in 19 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The leaders elected during these congresses will constitute a significant portion of the delegates at the national convention, which is scheduled to take place towards the end of next year.

The affected states include Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ekiti, Enugu, and Gombe. The remaining states are Imo, Jigawa, Niger, Ondo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, and the FCT. The formation of caretaker committees in some of these states has already sparked controversy, particularly in Rivers State, where Governor Siminalayi Fubara has raised objections to the composition of the list, claiming it was manipulated to favor the Wike camp.

The Calculations and Strategies

The Wike camp is keen on keeping Damagum in office as chairman beyond August and assuming the role of the substantive National Chairman. However, this outcome largely depends on the results of the upcoming ward, local government, and state congresses. The camp believes that winning the majority of these congresses in the 19 states and the FCT will give them a significant advantage in the battle for 2027.

According to an anonymous source, the plan involves a leadership change that would see a North Central party member take over Damagum’s position as Deputy National Chairman (North), while Damagum assumes the role of Chairman. The source also suggests that the position of Deputy National Chairman (North) will not be decided by the North Central alone but by the entire Northern caucus. It is likely to go to someone from Nasarawa State who is acceptable to all.

The source further reveals that the recent move to appoint Barrister Humphrey Abba, the former chairman of the Kogi State chapter of the PDP, as the Director-General of the PDP Governors Forum, was an attempt to appease the North Central, which has been vocal about replacing Damagum and serving out the term of the ousted National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu.

If Damagum eventually becomes the substantive National Chairman, a candidate from the North Central who is acceptable to both the pro-Atiku and pro-Wike camps may be brought in as Deputy National Chairman after consultations with Northern governors and other party leaders from the North.

Emerging from the NEC meeting, Damagum expressed his lack of concern over the tension surrounding the deliberations. He stated that even if he were to revert to the position of Deputy National Chairman, he would still be an elected member of the NEC and a part of the PDP NWC. Therefore, the issue of survival does not arise for him.

This article was updated 1 month ago

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