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2023 Zoning: The landmines before PDP

Barley 30 days to the elective convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) MYKE UZENDU examines the fate of the party and the frustrations before the zoning committee.

This is not the best of times for Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and members of Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) zoning committee for the elective National Convention which will throw up new set of national officers for the party.

The committee is made up of Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue as Deputy Chairman; the Deputy Governor of Zamfara State, Barr. Mahdi Aliyu Mohammed, who serves as secretary. 

The members are former Presidents of the Senate, Senators Iyorchia Ayu and Anyim Pius Anyim; former governors of Niger, Ekiti, Sokoto, Jigawa and Adamawa states, Dr. Muazu Aliyu Babangida, Ayodele Fayose, Attahiru Bafarawa, Sule Lamido, and Boni Haruna, respectively.

Others are Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, Hon. Sunday Ude-Okoye, Dan Orbih, Ali Odefa, Amb. Kema Chikwe, Osita Chidoka, Chidi Lloyd, Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw, Senator Emmanuel Nwaka and Engr. Donatus Udeh.

It was learnt the the committee has been under pressure from all major organs in the party including the PDP governors from the North and South, BoT members and other lobbyists from outside the party angling to have some positions zoned to certain sections of the country.

The committee after several meetings in Enugu has been unable to publicly take a position on which zone gets what although they went ahead to state that they do not have the mandate to zone the offices of the president and vice president.

“Our committee is strictly limited to the PDP national executive offices to be contested at the 2021 PDP national convention scheduled for the end of October.

“We have no mandate to zone political offices such as President or Vice President” Ugwuanyi told newsmen after their inaugural meeting in Enugu last Thursday.

However, a source close to the committee who chose to remain anonymous claimed that the meeting was deadlocked as members failed to reach a consensus on the zoning of the national chairman and secretary which are the most critical offices in the party.

He said, “the adjournment of the meeting was because there was a sharp division among members of committee as they could not reach a definite decision on where the next national chairman of the party, currently occupied by the southern part of the country, should emerge from during the October 30-31 National Convention.

“Consequently, the member revealed that the committee adjourned till this week to consult further with other relevant stakeholders in the Party, especially the PDP Governors’ Forum and the Board of Trustees (BOT)”.

While some members of the committee wanted the south to retain the Chairmanship position so as to pave way for the emergence of a northern Presidential candidate, others canvassed that the North should produce the next national chairman in the spirit of the four-year rotational agreement in the party.

The first group argued that all the party offices should remain on the geographical zones of the outgoing executives while a second group argued that all the positions presently in the South to be transferred to the North and vice versa.

The AUTHORITY was informed that Senator Anyim with the support of many South South and South East leaders is the lead voice for the group that pushes for zonal change of baton while Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo is leading the South-West and the three zones in the North to argue that status quo be maintained.

However, a third group is canvassing that the party should throw all the positions open as earlier recommended by the report of Senator Bala Mohammed Committee that reviewed the performance of the party in the 2019 general election.

Arising from a meeting on Tuesday convened by former Police Affairs Minister, Adamu Waziri and attended by 28 chieftains from the North including Sen. David Mark, Sen. Bukola Saraki, Sen. Gabriel Suswam, Babangida Aliyu, Atahiru Bafarawa, Sule Lamido, Kawu Baraje and Boni Haruna, the three zones in the North resolved to push for the retaining of the 2017 template that produced the Prince Uche Secondus led National Working Committee which ultimate clear the way for the emergence of a Northern Presidential candidate in 2023.

Those who are pushing for the emergence of a Northern Presidential candidate hinge their position on the fact that the North has produced only one presidential candidate, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007 in PDP. They went further to argue that in the spirit of rotation, the next Presidential candidate should come from the North since the last President produce by the party was from the South.

Although governors from the South across party lines had made public its resolve to ensure that the next President emerges from the South, there are indications that some PDP governors have described such decision as hasty and against the strategy of the party to regain the Presidency in 2023.

One of the governors was quoted as saying, “We were clamouring for a southern President at our enlarged meeting, now we are ceding the position of our flag bearer (candidate) to the North. Who will now take us seriously on other decisions reached at our meetings if we are seen as not able to enforce this simple one (of where our candidate should come from) within our party?

“We are actually in dilemma. We have actually not been able to identify those interested in running for the position of president from the southern part of the country from our party.

“Apart from that, only the late Yar’Adua had been the president produced by our party from the North. Baba Obasanjo is from the South just like Jonathan. So, what do we do? Southerners are the only one running to be the national chairman of the party now. You could see now why we are in dilemma and why we have a moral burden on the issue.

“I think we goofed in following the APC governors in this argument. This is because a party that is not in power should not be talking about rotation or following a pattern that would be in favour of the ruling party. Now, the APC could use this against us if we renege on the collective agreement.”

Even as the party is yet to settle on its zoning arrangement, Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governors of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, Bauchi State Bala Mohammed, Former Senate President Bukola Saraki, former governors Sule Lamido and Dankwanbo and Ibrahim Dankwanbo; Tanimu Turaki (SAN) are some of the frontline Presidential contenders from the North while Gov. Wike, Ugwuanyi and Peter Obi are possible contenders from the South.

The South-West which has not taking a shot at the party’s chairmanship are repositioning itself to take over the helms of PDP affairs.

A PDP group, Alliance for PDP South-West, listed 11 aspirants from the zone for the position including former Osun State Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; ex-Ondo State PDP governorship candidate, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) and ex-governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose while Dan Orbih from the South South is ready for the bout.

Meanwhile, Ohaneze Ndigbo has cautioned PDP against zoning its Presidential slot to the north.

In a statement on Monday signed by Chiedozie Ogbonnia its publicity secretary, the Pan Cultural group express disappointment over what they described as an unholy maneuvers and alliances by the members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to zone the presidential seat for the 2023 general election to the Northern Nigeria.

“The exponents of this agenda, in their jaundiced calculations, believe that it is a sure way of regaining power from the All Peoples Congress (APC). Experience would have taught them that to zone their presidential position to the North is an orchestrated requiem for the party; because more PDP Governors and grassroots will surely desert them”.

“If by way of politics without principles the southerners in PDP place their personal narrow interests over the interest of their people, the verdict of history will surely be harsh on them”.

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