The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is poised to engage in an intense National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting where contentious issues bordering on zoning of the presidential ticket for 2023 and party offices ahead of the October 30 national convention will be addressed.
It was gathered yesterday that members of the northern bloc are angling to have the presidential ticket of the party open to all contenders regardless of the geo-political zone.
Miffed by what they described as a u-turn over the zoning of the party’s national chairmanship to the South, it was also learnt that they might push for the jettisoning of the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi panel recommendation at the NEC meeting.
LEADERSHIP gathered yesterday that while the members might be planning to disrupt the NEC meeting should the Ugwuanyi report sail through, some other party members from the North who are in support of the south having the presidential ticket are also set to defend the report.
The 44-member zoning committee led by Ugwuanyi had last Thursday recommended the swapping of PDP national executive offices currently occupied by the South with the North and vice versa.
This effectively zones the national chairmanship to the North, raising the prospects of a Southern presidential candidate ahead of the 2023 general election if the internal power sharing mechanism of the party is adhered to.
The report which will be submitted to NEC for ratification today ahead of the national convention also provides that the North is expected to produce the national treasurer, national woman leader, national organizing secretary, national legal adviser and national youth leader, while the offices of the national secretary, national publicity secretary, national financial secretary, national auditor and goes to the South at the October 31 national convention.
The push to ensure that the party throws the presidential ticket open might be a last resort in light of moves to zone the ticket to the South.
A source from the camp of a northern aspirant, confirmed to LEADERSHIP that they will push to make the NEC adopt the Governor Bala Mohammed Committee report which threw the party’s presidential ticket open.
The party is yet to take a position on the recommendation proposed by the Mohammed-led PDP committee on the review of the 2019 elections which was submitted in March this year.
The source who pleaded not to be quoted said, “Since the zoning committee has zoned the chairmanship to the South, nothing stops us from pushing for the Bala Mohammed report to be adopted as well”.
Corroborating this, a source from the camp of another northern contender who also pleaded anonymity said, “Nothing has changed. Only party positions have been zoned. And that has no effect on elective posts. The party would most likely throw the presidential ticket open for all interested aspirants. And it means those who are interested to contest from any part of the country will legitimately continue to be in the race and will hope to win.”
As apprehensions herald the crucial meeting, former deputy governor of Sokoto State, Murtakr Shagari, told LEADERSHIP: “I expect robust and peaceful meeting spiced with maturity, brotherhood and common sense.”
Former governorship candidate in Adamawa State, Dr Umar Ardo, said he would rather back a good southern candidate than any person from the Northern because the last eight years of a northern candidate has caused the region more harm.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP yesterday, Ardo said, “I don’t know what they are likely going to decide. But if it is going by the way the party is now being held it is likely that the chairmanship will go to the North because they want to take the party to the South. And personally, I am in favour of taking the presidential ticket to the South. That is my own personal opinion because the presidency in the North has not done much.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP also, deputy national publicity secretary of PDP, Diran Adeyemi, said, “24 hours is a long time in politics and prediction in political issues is never a mathematical workings where two plus two will equal four. There are lots of permutations and lobby from all and by all which is the essence of politics.
Meanwhile, the push for former Senate President David David to emerge the party national chairman continued to gain momentum as most of the governors have filed behind his candidacy.
It was gathered that the rationale behind the former Senate president’s choice is the need for the party to have stability going into the 2023 elections.
It was also learnt that he was instrumental in stopping the power play between Governor Nyesom Wike and Prince Uche Secondus from escalating.
However, some party stakeholders are said to be pushing for the chairman to come from a state without a PDP governor to avoid the Wike and Secondus scenario.
Other persons linked to the national chairmanship seat are former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido; former governor of Kaduna State, Sen Ahmed Makarfi; former governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema, and former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, among others.
We Will Resist Zoning Of Presidency Against North, Arewa Group Tells PDP
Meanwhile, the Arewa Defence League (ADL) said it would resist recent attempts by some governors of the PDP to impose on the party a zoning formula that is not only designed to promote mediocrity over competency, but a clear display of ‘gross insensitivity that seeks to confirm widely held views that the party is inherently opposed to a northern presidency since its formation in 1998.
A statement issued yesterday and signed by Murtala Abubakar, president of the Arewa Defense League, noted that the controversial report of the committee that recommends zoning of the PDP national chairman position to the North, was done in bad taste and that it is aimed at blackmailing the northern zone out of aspiring for the number one seat.
The group stated: “Equally, the committee lacks moral high ground to decide on such sensitive national issue, as the composition of the committee was lopsided in favour of the south as 9 out of the 13 member committee are from the south and only 4 from the north despite the huge support PDP as a party continue to enjoy from the zone.
“This also clearly indicated that from the onset, the committee was formed to achieve a predetermined end without taking into serious consideration the realities of our circumstances as a nation.
“For all intents and purposes, the decision of this committee to zone the National Chairmanship position to the north at this point in time is not done in good faith to help the PDP win the 2023 general elections. But rather a wicked gimmick to blackmail the north in order to deny Nigerians of Northern extraction of their legitimate rights to contest for the presidential slot on the platform of the party in the forthcoming general elections as controversial media headlines and divisive commentaries it continues to generate can be attested to”.
ADL recalled that the PDP had ruled Nigeria for the period of 16 years with massive supports of northern votes.
“Out of these, 14 years was by two presidents of southern extraction; Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan. Late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, a northerner served for only two years; and if the PDP idea of rotation and zoning is still about fairness, equity and justice, it is only reasonable that PDP zone the Presidential slot to the north for the next 8 years to allow the north benefit after the south had benefited for 14 years.
“ADL calls on the National working committee NEC of the PDP to reject any attempt to short charge the north in the scheme of things within the party structures, as preparations toward the 2023 elections unfold, as the consequences of allowing such injustice to pass will be dire on the party.
“ADL is deeply concerned about the negative publicity and bad blood the report of Governor Ifeanyi’s committee has continued to generate within and outside the PDP, due to its lopsided nature and the committee failure to be guided by the principles of fairness, equity and justice in the conduct of its assignment. As a result, we call on the NEC of the PDP to upturn its recommendations and dissolve the committee without further delay.
“ADL calls on all Nigerians of Northern extraction that are members of the PDP NEC, to be vigilant in the days ahead as we urge them to close ranks and exert their rights within the party and demand to be treated with fairness, equity and justice
“ADL has put in motion, monitory machinery that would track activities of politicians in the PDP and other political parties that want to work against the North’s political interest for 2023.
“ADL, for the avoidance of doubt wishes to reiterate our stand to remind those who think they can use blackmails to intimidate northerners from running for the number one seat in the 2023 elections, to have a rethink as we have fully mobilize to resist zoning of the office of the president to any particular zone as it negates the principles of democracy and promote mediocrity over competency,” the group stated.