Ahead of a strategic meeting billed to hold tomorrow, northern leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are still locked in intense power play over zoning of the national chairmanship slot and other party offices allotted to the region ahead of the October 30 national convention.
LEADERSHIP learnt that the party power brokers in the North comprising incumbent governors, founding members of the party and former top political office holders are mainly torn over the choice of some national chairmanship hopefuls.
The candidates of the chairmanship position are former Senate president, Sen David Mark; former minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana; former governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo and former governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema.
Party leaders, it was gathered, are yet to agree on the geo-political zone within the region that should produce the national chairman.
Apart from the chairmanship hopefuls mentioned above, others who have been linked to the party’s top seat are Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, former governor of Kogi State; Alhaji Mohammed Ahmed Makarfi, former governor of Kaduna State and former Senate president, Iyorchia Ayu, among others.
Meanwhile, PDP governors from the South and party leaders are also set to meet in Edo State over the micro-zoning of party offices zoned to the region.
The PDP leaders in the region may settle for the South East to clinch the national secretary position of the party.
Checks by LEADERSHIP however revealed that as of yesterday when the sale of forms commenced, aspirants for party offices were yet to pick forms in accordance with the time table released by the party leadership.
The PDP National Executive Committee (NEC) had zoned the national chairmanship of PDP to the North, while swapping all party positions held by the Southern region with the North and vice versa.
However a PDP source conversant with the unfolding dynamics said the Wednesday meeting of the Northern PDP leaders would likely produce a consensus candidate.
He recalled that a 20-member committee was set up by the leaders at their meeting last week to shape the process on how to produce a candidate with less rancour.
The source who did not want his name in print however noted that more people decided to join the chairmanship from the North Central in opposition to moves by the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, to foist a former Senate president, Sen Iyorchia Ayu, on the leaders.
“The Ayu candidacy is not flying because many believe he is not sellable and that those who shored up his candidacy started with the mischief of colluding with the South to impose a chairman of northern extraction on the PDP,” he said.
It was gathered that key North Central leaders like BoT the chairman, Sen Walid Jubrin; Sen Jonah Jang, former FCT minister, General Jerry Useni (rtd) and others feel they were not consulted before Ortom and others tried to impose Ayu from the North Central.
It was also learnt that in response to the governor’s move, Prof Gana, may become the North Central candidate since he is believed to enjoy the backing of party leaders from Plateau, Niger and Nasarawa States.
It was however learnt that party leaders in Kwara and Kogi States are yet to decide, as they are divided between Ibrahim Idris and Gana.
The source said, “Benue however may be where Ayu will have some support as his home state and because he has the support of Governor Samuel Ortom.
“The Wednesday meeting may see Shema as North West candidate, Dankwambo as North East candidate and Jerry Gana as North Central candidate”.
Despite the support former Senate president, David Mark, enjoys from the southern leaders, it was learnt that he is still being lobbied by some highly placed members within and outside the party to join the race.
Meanwhile, ahead of the Southern governors’ meeting today in Benin City, Edo State capital, there are indications that the South may zone the national secretary position to the South East.
A member of the zoning committee of the convention who hinted about the strategic meeting of the Southern PDP governors and leaders to finalise arrangements on the zoning ahead of the national convention said no less than four PDP governors are in support of the South East clinching the national secretary position.
While the governor of Rivers State, Nyeson Wike, is not averse to the move, it was learnt that the simmering rift within the South West PDP has swayed the zoning of the top position to the South East.
In the South West, while Oyo State governor, Engr Seyi Makinde leads a camp, former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose is in charge of the other camp.
Other positions to be contested for in the South are national publicity secretary, national woman leader, financial secretary and national auditor among others.
Checks by LEADERSHIP showed that sale of nomination forms for all categories of positions/offices in the PDP was yet to commence as scheduled yesterday.
The PDP national organising secretary, Col Austin Akobundu, in a statement said the purchase of forms for all categories of offices would begin on Monday (yesterday) and that both screening and appeal will end by October 16.
But as of press time yesterday no aspirant was seen at the PDP national secretariat to purchase the nomination forms.
It was learnt that this was because the micro zoning of offices is yet to be concluded.
But the statement issued by the PDP, the sales of nomination and expression of interest forms for national officers will take place from October 11 to Friday October 15, 2021, while the last date for submission for already purchased forms, both nomination and expression of interest forms will be submitted to Directorate of Organization and Mobilisation for processing and onward submission to screening committee on Saturday October16.
The statement further said that screening of all aspirants for national officers was slated for Monday October 18, while screening appeals arising from the aspirants is slated for October 21.
This is expected to be followed with publication of names of cleared aspirants on Monday October 23.
This would be followed by a meeting of the National Working Committee where there would be adoption of delegate lists and publications on Monday October 25.
The national convention will hold Saturday October 30 and October 31.
The statement explained further that the time table is “In-line with the resolution of the 94th National Executive Committee (NEC), of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the National Working Committee (NWC), has approved the Time Table and Schedule of Activities for the year 2021 Elective National Convention, scheduled to hold on Saturday October 30 to Sunday October 31, 2021.
“All potential aspirants for various party offices at the national level are therefore advised to purchase their expression of interest and nomination forms at the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja from Monday October 11 to Friday October 15, 2021”.