Mallam Nuhu Ribadu’s gubernatorial ambition hangs in the balance, as his emergence as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the Adamawa State gubernatorial bye-election met stiff opposition at the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) meeting, yesterday.
Ribadu’s request for a waiver to the two-year membership requirement for party members to seek office was put in abeyance.
Unusually strong opposition to his quest led to the constitution last night, of an ad-hoc committee led by the National Organising Secretary of the party, Abubakar Mustapha to further study the three applications for the waiver filed by Ribadu and two others. The two others are former military administrator of Lagos and Borno states, Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), and erstwhile 2011 gubernatorial candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Marcus Gindiri.
The development led to the deferment of the screening of the gubernatorial aspirants which was supposed to commence today. The screening, Vanguard learnt, has now been slated for Saturday, a day after the Mustapha led ad-hoc committee would have submitted its report.
Opposition from high quarters in the party to the granting of the waivers, Vanguard learnt, yesterday, forced a tripartite meeting of party leaders from the executive, party and the National Assembly in the Presidential Villa. The meeting was allegedly chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan. The tripartite meeting which ended at about 5.30 pm, threw back the issue to the NWC.
Vanguard gathered that a respected party elder with influence in the Board of Trustees had raised strong opposition to the granting of waiver to the three aspirants that have applied for waivers on the ground that it would weaken the party spirit of those who had stayed in the party.
The NWC which began its regular meeting, yesterday afternoon, had to cut short its meeting after about two hours based on the reported differences among members on the issue of a waiver for the applicants as the members were reportedly summoned to the Presidential Villa.
Controversy has continued to trail the waiver application especially by Ribadu, who recently dumped the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the PDP.
A source told Vanguard that members of NWC were currently split into three camps on the issue. While a camp which has Mu’Azu and two other NWC members is in support of a waiver, another group within the NWC is against the waiver on the premise that if granted, it would demoralise old members, who have been with the party and worked for the party and supported it. A third camp in the NWC is sitting on the fence.
It was also gathered that BoT chairman, Chief Tony Anenih was said to have advised that the party should tread with caution to avoid sending a wrong signal to the party members and its supporters.
The NWC members, who came back from the Villa at about 5:45pm, immediately resumed the meeting.
Briefing journalists before going into the meeting, National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh disclosed that the issue of waiver would be finalised before the screening slated for today (Thursday).
He said: “May I inform you that the Screening Committee is going on tomorrow (today). It will start by 10am and it will screen the aspirants.
“On the issue of waiver for the gubernatorial primaries, the NWC has not sat as at now. We have come back from the Villa. So, maybe, we will have a meeting today, then I will brief you after the meeting. But for now, we have not sat. We went to the Villa only for a meeting between the executive, the legislature and the party.”
On the implication of going for screening without the waiver, the party spokesman said: “Well, the issue of waiver must be finalised before screening because we must take a position on the issue of waiver before the end of screening.”
Chief Metuh’s words: “Nonetheless, at the end of the meeting at about 8.00 p.m. last night, the party resolved to defer the screening and appoint the Mustapha-led committee to further study the applications for waiver.”
The committee is expected to report to the party by tomorrow.
Those who bought forms include Ribadu, the Acting Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri; a three time gubernatorial aspirant, Dr. Umar Ardo; Senator Abubakar Girei; former Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Political Matters, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak; Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa and former Minister of State (Foreign Affairs), Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong.
Others are the immediate Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, Dr. Ahmed Modibbo Mohammed; son of former PDP National Chairman, Awwal Bamanga Tukur; Marcus Natina Gundiri; James Shuiabu Barka; Jerry Kundusi; Engr. Brig. Gen. A.A.V. Kana and Andrawus Sawa. [Vanguard]