After hours of grilling by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum in Enugu, all national chairman candidates yesterday opted for an election instead of a consensus choice.
They also opposed imposition of any candidate by the Governors Forum, opting to allow the delegates determine their fate at the December 9 convention.
As at last night, five of the candidates were ahead in the permutations by party leaders.
The top contenders are Prince Uche Secondus; Chief Olabode George; Prof. Tunde Adeniran; Prof. Taoheed Adedoja and Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
Sources at the Sunday meeting, which ended about midnight, said PDP governors interviewed the candidates on their vision and perspectives on the convention.
A source described it as “a grilling and exhaustive session”.
The source said: “The Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Mr. Ayo Fayose, presided over the session and coordinated the grilling. Each of the candidates was given 10 minutes to address all the PDP governors on their vision for the party and perspectives on the national convention.
“The candidates were all allowed to be in the hall to listen to each other’s presentation. The process was fair and transparent. Nobody was screened but all candidates were asked to respond to questions from the governors and party leaders, including the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of PDP, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi.
“But at the end of the day, the candidates rejected proposals for either a consensus candidate or a candidate picked by the governors.”
Another source at the session said the PDP Governors Forum appreciated the magnitude of the election at the national convention.
The source added: “What the governors thought was an easy ride to impose a candidate wasn’t the case at all. All the candidates came prepared and were ready for the battle ahead.
“The governors had no choice but to tread softly and allow the process to run its course. If they are backing any candidate, it was obvious they have to do more work.”
Asked what the session achieved, a governor, who spoke with our correspondent last night, listed the following:
bringing all the candidates together to forge unity and douse tension;
knowing the mindset of the candidates who all opted to contest and allow the delegates to determine their fate;
no imposition of a candidate;
reduced the contest for the chairmanship to Southsouth and Southwest affairs. The Southeast prefers the Vice President’s slot;
extraction of commitment from the candidates that the convention will not be tense
unwritten agreement by all the candidates that whoever becomes the national chairman will be accepted by all without recourse to litigations; and
leaving the race open to all
The governor added: “It is now left to all candidates to sell their programmes to delegates in order to win votes. We have to choose the next chairman on merit.
“It is also becoming apparent that PDP governors may eventually go their separate ways. The probability of endorsing a common candidate by the governors is now slimmer.”
A candidate at the session, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, said: “I am happy with the outcome of the session in Enugu because it gave much confidence to all of us that the process will be fair.
“But I want the party to put the Southwest into consideration for the office of national chairman. In 2018, Governor Ayo Fayose will complete his tenure and PDP may or may not have a governor in the Southwest. The Southwest will now be porous and open to any party.”
Adeniran was waxing stronger among Northern candidates.
A member of the Board of Trustees said: “Most founding leaders of PDP and BOT members from the North have opted for Adeniran.
“Some of these governors, who insulted us at the Caucus meeting will know that we founded the party and know its secrets of survival,” the BoT member said, pleading not to be named.
Governors at the meeting were, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu; Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia; Darius Ishaku, Taraba; Ibrahim Dankwambo, Gombe.
Others were Emmanuel Udom, Akwa-Ibom; Ben Ayade,Cross River; ifeanyi Okowa, Delta; Seriake Dickson, Bayelsa; Nyesom Wike, River, while Ebonyi was represented by the deputy governor.
NAN reports that of the eight chairmanship aspirants, South-west had six, while South-South had two.
They are: Bode George, Jimi Agbaje, Taoheed Adedoja, Tunde Adeniran, Rasheed Ladoja, Gbenga Daniel, Raymond Dokpesi and Uche Secondus.
NAN also reports that former governors at the meeting were Gabriel Suswam of Benue and Godswill Akpabio of Akwa-Ibom.
The meeting was also attended by former External Affairs Minister, Tom Ikimi, Kema Chikwe, former Senate President Adolpus Wabara, and incumbent Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.