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NEC: PDP Chairmanship Position Not Vacant. By Bisi Ezekiel

Ambassador Umar Ilya Damagum
Acting National Chairman, PDP

"The current feelers is that the NEC will come and go but Damagum will remain National Chairman in acting capacity till end of the NWC tenure." Ezekiel.

Two days to the much expected National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of  the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it is becoming clearer that there is no vacancy in the office of the National Chairman of the party.

Contrary to unverified reports that oppositions are mounting towards the removal of the acting National Chairman, Ambassador Umar Ilya Damagum, there have meetings and consultations to see reasons why he can't be booted out of office.

It is obvious that there is a sharp division among members on whether the acting Chairman and a few members of the National Working Committee (NWC) should be relieved of their positions or, be allowed to continue in office till the expiration of the tenure of the present leadership. 

Those campaigning for Damagun's ouster were said to be uncomfortable with his style of administration while accusing him of not being firm in taking certain decisions on members accused of anti- party activities.

The acting chairman at different fora, has been quoted saying the unity of PDP is paramount to him and that he will do everything within the limit of the powers of his office as National Chairman to hold the party together and not allow it to disintegrate. 

Though, he has always said the party not condone indiscipline, it was gathered that the sole reason by the proponents of 'Damagum must stay' campaign is the unity of the party. They are concerned that the party has gone through many challenges as the major opposition front than to be allowed to disintegrate at a critical time when Nigerians need the PDP to put the All Progressives Congress (APC) government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on its toes.

The proponents of 'Damagum must go' are agitating for a replacement from the North Central, to complete the term of the suspended Iyorchia Ayu and different names have been flying as possible candidates to be ratified at Thursday's NEC meeting.

But in a save the PDP soul move,  stakeholders in the party including some state governors are lobbying to prevail on the situation and allow Damagum to continue in office. 

They reasoned that the PDP should not be allowed to go through another major crisis, now that it should be rebuilding broken links, post-2023 general election.

The loyal party members are eager to support the party and ensure that it goes through a Constitutional process to berth the tenure of the current NWC.

Hinging on the PDP constitution, supporters of Damagum advanced reasons why it will be difficult to invoke Sec 47 (6) of the PDP Constitution (As Amended in 2017) regarding replacement or appointment of a substantive National Chairman.

Going by that provision, they argued that given that there is legally, "No Vacancy" in the office of the National Chairman begging for replacement. 

It was even argued that Damagum as Deputy National Chairman is currently acting pursuant to Section 35(1)(f) in respect of “power delegation” from the substantive National Chairman and also 31(3)(c) in respect of “absence” of the substantive National Chairman; and it is without prejudice to 47(6). 

They are of the view that the position of National Chairman remains in the North-Central until 9th of December, 2025 when the Life of current Exco is to terminate in line with the Constitution.

The Board of Trustees, which is the  think-tank organ of the party has been inundated with the above reasons and have been persuaded to rally round Damagum.

The current feelers is that the NEC will come and go but Damagum will remain National Chairman in acting capacity till end of the NWC tenure.

Bisi Ezekiel is a Public Affairs Analyst and she writes from Lagos State

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