Tomorrow is D-day for the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with the over 100 aspirants already in Abuja making final contacts.
There are 21 high profile positions up for grabs and the aspirants will have to make individual and collective consultations to curry favours from the nearly 3,000 delegates drawn from the 36 states of the federation to participate in the election.
High profile sources said, however that despite the fact that the national headquarters of the party, through the convention committee, had made adequate provisions for the delegates, “many of the delegates have been compromised by overzealous aspirants.”
It was gathered that the delegates have been lodged in different hotels, but in apparent desperation, some aspirants eyeing key offices like that of national chairman and national secretary among others, have “penetrated” the delegates.
“A lot of money is exchanging hands. It’s as if we are going for presidential primaries or something like that,” a delegate from Kano, who does not want to be named, said.
He said some presidential aspirants were already bankrolling the aspiration of some prospective leaders of the party.
“The whole idea is for the presidential aspirants to have their men in vantage positions ahead of next year’s primaries and you know the more people you have at Wadata Plaza the better your chances,” another source said.
He said the allocation of various positions to different parts of the country only reduces but did not eliminate inducement.
“The fact that the delegates would participate in the election of various officials has made the contest more attractive and expensive,” he added.
Our correspondent reports that there are 21 positions to be contested for even though they were shared between the northern and southern parts of the country.
In 2016, the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee set up a zoning committee for the 21 available positions to share the various offices between the two sections of the country.
After a thorough job, the committee headed by Governor Dave Umahi submitted its report in July, 2016 in which it zoned to the South the positions of National Chairman, Deputy National Chairman 1, National Treasurer, National Legal Adviser, National Youth Leader and National Organising Secretary.
Other positions zoned to the South are Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Deputy National Woman Leader, Deputy National Auditor and Deputy National Financial Secretary.
The committee also zoned to the North the positions of Deputy National Chairman 2, National Secretary, National Financial Secretary, National Publicity Secretary, National Auditor and National Woman Leader.
Others are Deputy National Treasurer, Deputy National Organising Secretary, Deputy National Youth Leader, Deputy National Legal Adviser and Deputy National Secretary.
So far, there are ten aspirants for the position of national chairman. They are Prof. Tunde Adeniran, Chief Olabode George, Chief Gbenga Daniel, Mr Jimi Agbaje, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, Mr Akin Deko and Mr Segun Aderemi, all of them from the South West while Prince Uche Secondus and Dr. Raymond Dokpesi are also chairmanship aspirants from the South-South.
Sources said while several efforts to trim the number of chairmanship aspirants has so far proved impossible, PDP governors alongside some party leaders have resolved to support Secondus while some BoT members, ex-ministers and some ex-governors have vowed to support Adeniran for the position.
To achieve this, it was gathered that the “god-fathers and their candidates” from the South are trading patronage of delegates with their like minds from the North; meaning if someone from the South West is gunning for the chairmanship and had already mobilized his delegates, he reaches out to someone from the North East who is looking for the position of deputy national chairman.
With this arrangement, they guarantee each other of support.
“The whole issue is about 2019 but it is the outcome of the primaries that would determine who will get what at the end of the day,” a source said.