PDP meets today, seeks process for consensus presidential candidate

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will meet with 45 other political parties and the Reformed All Progressives Congress (rAPC), the break-away faction of the ruling APC, today in Abuja to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which will spell out their strategic relationship ahead of the 2019 general elections.

A reliable source close to the emerging coalition told newsmen last night in Abuja that the MoU would specifically focus on the process that would lead to fielding a consensus presidential candidate by the coalition against the presumptive candidate of the APC, President Muhammadu Buhari.

Some of the parties expected at the meeting, according to newsmen source, include the Social Democratic Party, Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD), Alliance for Democracy (AD), Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), Action Democratic Party (ADP), All Democratic Peoples Movement (ADPM), and African Democratic Congress (ADC).

He said, “The high point of our political consultations in the past few weeks will be sealed tomorrow (today). We will meet with 45 political parties and the reformed All Progressives Congress on Monday.

“We have decided to sign an MoU that will define how we should relate, ahead of the 2019 general elections. It will also spell out the transparent process that will lead to producing a sole presidential candidate against President Muhammadu Buhari; because it is obvious that APC leadership will impose him on their party.’’

Apart from Senate President Bukola Saraki, the Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and many lawmakers in the National Assembly who are said to be already working with PDP, the source added that five governors elected on the platform of the APC are also covertly involved in the process.

The PDP had set up a contact committee under former governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke, to reach out to other political parties and seek possible coalition to fight the 2019 presidential election.

Specifically, two main options, merger and alliance, were considered. While some parties preferred merger, requiring the PDP to drop its name for a new coalition name, the others, including leading members of the PDP wanted an alliance.

The alliance option became more probable following resistance with the PDP to a name change.

What is being considered is similar to the 1999 alliance between the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and the former All Peoples Party (APP), in which the AD presidential candidate, Chief Olu Falae, was sponsored by the APP with its own nominee, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi (now late), as the running mate.

The alliance was eventually defeated by the PDP that fielded Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Newsmen gathered that today’s MoU signing would be preceded by a meeting of stakeholders of the PDP. Its National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, was said to have yesterday evening held consultations with the governors and the National Assembly caucus to brief them on critical issues and to fine-tune the agenda for today’s meeting.

One of the key issues that would form the agenda of stakeholders’ meeting is the progress report on coalition talks with other political parties, including members of the former new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) now known as rAPC, said the source.

Apart from the consideration of the coalition plans, the party leaders are also to beam their attention on the Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti State and to assess the level of preparations by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The opposition party also hopes to use the opportunity to articulate a position against the recent Executive Order on assets forfeiture signed by Buhari, which they see as a potential weapon to witch-hunt opposition politicians ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Another reliable party source, who confirmed the agenda of the meeting, said the stakeholders would consider preliminary report of the Liyel Imoke Committee in order to fast track the efforts to concretise agreements on alliances/ coalition.

“We are almost reaching advanced stages in our discussions with other parties willing to align forces with PDP. In fact, we are on the verge of signing an MoU to seal the deal. This meeting is crucial for our party as it touches on critical issues,” he said.

While inaugurating the Imoke-led committee, Secondus had said, “It is a well-articulated decision of the party leadership to bring our open door policy to fruition. Just as your name connotes, you are to deploy your well versed network to help open the space and allow into our party, all those whose union with us can help in rescuing this country.

“Like we always say in this party, this umbrella is big enough to accommodate all people of patriotic ideals.”

An official statement yesterday by the PDP National Secretary, Senator Umaru Tsauri, said, “The party is inviting all PDP presidential aspirants, all PDP governors and former governors, members of the National Assembly and former members, all members of the BoT, members of PDP former ministers forum, and all state chairmen to a crucial meeting on Monday (today).”

The meeting, which is fixed for 3p.m. will hold at Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja.

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