Indications have emerged that the Northern bloc of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is yet to find consensus over the micro zoning of offices to the region.
It was gathered that stakeholders are still divided over which zone should produce the national chairman, hence the setting up of a 20-member committee to help streamline the process.
Recall that the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC) on Thursday ratified the zoning of the national chairmanship and other positions hitherto held by the South members of the party to the North and vice versa as recommended by the 44-member Zoning committee of the part headed by the Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
The NEC however shifted deliberations on the contentious zoning of the presidential ticket in 2023 amid protest for the ticket to be thrown open as recommended by the post-2019 election review committee led by Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State.
However, rising from the NEC meeting, northern stakeholders of the party met at the Bauchi State governor’s lodge in Asokoro, Abuja to deliberate on how the positions that have been zoned to the region should be micro-zoned across the 19 states in the region.
One source told LEADERSHIP WEEKEND that the suggestion that the chairmanship post be zoned to North remained contentious, even though “it was agreed that anybody who is interested in the post of chairman is free to contest.”
It was however gathered that four persons have indicated interest for the chairmanship seat across the states. So far, from the North East, the aspirants are; incumbent PDP dep. national chairman (North), Sen. Suleiman Nazif and a former governor of Gombe, Dr. Ibrahim Dankwambo.
The two from North West are a former governor of Kaduna State who also served as PDP caretaker national chairman, Sen. Ahmed Maikarfi and a former governor of Katsina State, Barr. Ibrahim Shema. Former senate President David Mark from the North Central is also tipped as favorite of the governors to emerge chairman.
LEADERSHIP WEEKEND however gathered that there is a plot by some political leaders in the North Central to stop the zoning of the chairmanship to the zone. They pointed out that the zone had produced the national chairman for a cumulative period of about 10 years since inception of the PDP through by Chief Solomon Lar, Audu Ogbe, Ahmadu Ali, Barnabas Gemade and Kawu Baraje.
They also argued that the zone is presently occupying the chairmanship of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the party as such the BOT chair was quoted to have said the national chairmanship should go to another zone in the spirit of fairness and equity because he has three years left and this was applauded by the stakeholders and leaders who also passed a vote of confidence on him.
Another source however told LEADERSHIP WEEKEND that the zoning of the national chairman to the North Central is almost a done deal.
He added that a committee of 20 is to be constituted to screen those interested out of which three persons will be recommended to the leaders of the party.
He maintained that the conflict narratives over the issue is coming from the camp of those whose ambitions appear to be fading. “But I can tell you that most party stakeholders are attuned to the region occupying the seat,” he said.
Meanwhile, the chairman, Board of Trustees, Senator Walid Jibrin, has cautioned stakeholders against taking rigid positions on the ongoing controversy over zoning of party offices.
Senator Jibrin, who spoke on the sidelines of the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, also urged members of the BoT to remain neutral in the zoning controversy.
There are two categories of BoT members prescribed by the PDP constitution. There are life members that include all past presidents, former vice presidents, past senate presidents and their deputies; all past national secretaries, all past governors and all former chairmen who are alive. Past and serving chairmen and secretaries of the BoT are also live members.
The PDP NEC had approved the zoning of the party chair to the North, a development that suggests that the party may zone its 2023 presidential ticket to the South.
Some PDP chieftains of northern extraction, including some governors who have been eying the party’s presidential ticket have kicked against the zoning arrangement, which they considered inimical to their presidential aspiration.
Apparently, worried by the heat generated by the zoning arrangement, the BoT chair, who got a vote of confidence at Thursday’s NEC meeting, called on party chieftains to put the interest of the PDP above their personal ambitions.
Stating that the PDP has yet to zone its presidential, vice presidential, Senate and House of Reps positions, Jibrin urged stakeholders not to heat up the process for personal gains.
“What I can say is that we should never be personal because when you want to be personal, the issue of disunity will come.
“We are not talking about zoning of the offices of the president, vice president, senate president or speaker of the House of Representatives yet. Zoning can mar of destroy our party but by the grace of God, we will not allow that to happen,” he said.
He called on members who may be aggrieved by decisions taken by NEC on zoning of party offices to explore existing conflict resolution channels in the party rather than taking their grievances to the public place.
Jibrin implored aggrieved members not to consider defection as an option, saying that what the PDP is currently experiencing is normal in any democratic setting.
“I plead stakeholders and our members across the country not to yield to the temptation to defect to any other party. What we are experiencing in PDP today is a child’s play compared to the implosion waiting to happen in the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“So please I urge you not to defect to the APC on account of what we are experiencing in PDP at present because we are going to sort out our differences amicably; the way we have always done in the past”.
In a related development, a fresh controversy is brewing over alleged plot to corner funds meant for the payments of national secretariat staff housing allowances and other emoluments.
A senior member of staff who wants to remain anonymous disclosed that some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) are truncating the efforts of the acting national chairman of the party, Elder Yemi Akinwunmi, who had concluded arrangements to pay parts of outstanding allowances owed to staff.
According to our correspondent, the acting chairman of the PDP, sort and got approval of other organs of the party to pay these outstanding, but when the matter was presented to other members of the NWC, a member of the party executiverejected it and got the approval of his colleagues to do same on grounds that they are not sure of returning as members of the NWC, and demanded to share whatever that was meant for the payment of staff allowances.
Recall that this current NWC of the party in 2018, sacked almost half of the workforce of the party, claiming that the staff strength was too bulky and unhealthy and promised to comply in payments of allowances once the number reduces to the current level of staff.
Rather, information from the national secretariat of the party suggests that the NWC of the party has paid deaf ears to issues of staff allowances after the downsizing exercise.