Ahead of tomorrow’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), leaders of the party yesterday held separate strategic meetings in Minna, the Niger State capital and Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The Minna meeting which coincided with the 80th birthday celebration of former military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida, was attended by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, former Senate president, Abubakar Bukola Saraki; Akwa Ibom State governor Emmanuel Udom; former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; Senator Philip Aduda; Senator Ben Obi; Senator Sani Musa, and some of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) members.
The Abuja meeting which was held at the residence of former governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Seriake Dickson, had in attendance former deputy Senate president, Dr Ike Ekweremadu and the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike.
NEC gathering which is expected to be held tomorrow, Thursday, will among other things ratify the conduct of the party’s national convention, unveil members of the committee as well as constitute a zoning committee for party offices and another committee for national elective offices.
Party leaders have been divided over where the presidential ticket of the party should be zoned to ahead of the 2023 election.
The meetings yesterday, a party source said, are part of lobbying and consultations among party leaders ahead of the national convention scheduled for October this year.
Shortly after Obasanjo arrived in Minna for the birthday celebration of Babangida, he led other dignitaries into the meeting which was held behind closed doors, even as journalists were barred from the meeting.
Obasanjo who arrived in the hilltop mansion of the former military president at about 9am went into the closed-door session with the celebrant in company of other dignitaries like former minister of Defence, Gen Aliyu Gusau (rtd) and General Aliyu Akilu (rtd).
LEADERSHIP learnt that the meeting was beyond the 80th birthday celebration as the event afforded the personality to discuss the “trending issues in the country ahead of 2023”.
A source close to the meeting who did not want his name in print hinted: “It was not ordinary that they barred you guys (journalists) from entering the house. They know what they want to do, you media men are a distraction for them to freely discuss.
“As you can see, it was not only the media; even some close associates of IBB in Minna were not allowed inside. The birthday just afforded the big men an opportunity to talk”.
Meanwhile, the Abuja meeting which had Wike, Ekweremadu and Dickson in attendance was also held behind closed doors.
Interestingly, while Wike spearheaded the move to sack Secondus, Dickson had insisted on the national chairman completing his tenure as chairman.
On the other hand, the national youth leader, Sunday Udeh-Okoye, is a political protégé of Ekweremadu.
Meanwhile, Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, has described Nigeria’s former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida as a father, an icon and a role model worthy of emulation.
The governor made the assertion at the first Annual IBB Leadership Lecture and presentation/launch of a book entitled “Pyrography of a General” in Commemoration of his 80th Birthday, held at the Justice Idris Legbo International Conference Center, Minna, the state capital.
Governor Sani Bello, who was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Kesto, said the General has been a father and a grandfather to the state and the entire nation.
He said Babangida’s fatherly role has kept the state as well as the nation together in peace and unity, adding that his administration has brought about great achievements in different sectors of the country.
While congratulating the octogenarian, the governor prayed to God to continue to grant him good health, wisdom and long life so that he continued to offer his wise counsel towards the progress and development of the country.
Also speaking, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, represented by his deputy, David Onoja, described General Babangida as a soldier and an elder statesman who the country still enjoys from his wealth of knowledge and experience despite his age.
He said in spite of his age and retirement from active service, the country still enjoys the crucial roles IBB plays in nation-building, ensuring peace and unity in the country, stressing that his impacts will last till posterity.
Chairman of the occasion and former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, in his congratulatory message, thanked God for the life of the celebrant, explaining that the former military president has, from his young age till now, exhibited leadership qualities, which he admonished the youths to also emulate.
He appreciated the Niger State Youth Congress for organising the programme in his honour.
The Highpoint of the occasion was a special prayer session by pupils of IBB Primary School, Minna.