There is suspense within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of today’s meeting of the zoning committee.
The meeting headed by the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, holding in Enugu, is expected to recommend the zoning formula for party offices ahead of the party’s national convention and the presidential election in 2023.
The meeting will be held behind closed doors, and expectations are high that the outcome may resolve the cold war among stalwarts seeking for a power shift to their zones.
However, a party source who confided in LEADERSHIP hinted that the committee faces a “subtle pressure” both from within and outside the party.
The source, a former member of the national working committee, said pressure from outside is against the backdrop of the push for a Southern presidency which, incidentally, was agreed to by all Southern governors during their inaugural meeting in Asaba, Delta State, in July.
The declaration by the governors was sequel to the meeting of Southern and Middlebelt Leaders who in May this year asked the two leading parties, All Progressives Congress (APC) and the PDP, to zone their presidential ticket to the South.
They also told party leaders from the South not to accept national chairmanship positions and vice presidential slots.
“So that is the pressure the committee will have to deal with. These declarations seem to have put the committee and even the PDP in a position where it has to really be creative in how it addresses the situation,” the party source said.
However, LEADERSHIP checks reveal that some party chieftains are insisting that the zoning arrangement within the PDP still favour the North producing the party’s presidential candidate on the grounds that the zone has been shortchanged since after the demise of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
For those who make this argument, they posit that the present clamour for a South presidency within the PDP is a transfer of the power shift agitation from the APC.
This is against the backdrop of a seeming fear that if the APC fields a Southern candidate and PDP fields a Northern candidate, the latter might amass more Northern votes which could swing the election in its favour.
Meanwhile, PDP chieftains from South West are pushing for the chairmanship seat, a situation which projects that the contest for the party’s 2023 presidential ticket is poised to go to the North, even though the case for a South East presidency is being made as well.
Speaking to our correspondent on the meeting, a former national auditor of PDP, Barr. Ray Nnaji, said though it was not proper to say anything until the committee makes its position known, it is a natural expectation that once the chairmanship position goes to the North, then the presidential position will go to the South.
Nnaji further disclosed that if the committee zones the chairmanship position to the South, then the presidential position will go to the North.
In a related development, the newly formed political association, Rescue Nigeria Project (RNP), has begun processes to set an agenda for the next president.
This comes as the political organisation has begun processes towards setting up its structures with the setting up of a committee ahead of its formal launch in November, Abuja.
The political group, which was unveiled on Tuesday, has since been touted as the much anticipated third force that will unseat the APC and PDP ahead of 2023.
But a chieftain of the RNP and former national secretary of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Dr Usman Bugaje, told LEADERSHIP yesterday that the platform is more focused on providing standards for the next leadership of Nigeria than emerging as the much anticipated third force.
When contacted by LEADERSHIP on plans by the group to become a political party, Bugaje said, “Not quite correct. We are focusing on setting criteria for leadership for now.”
Na’Abba, Utomi Welcome RNP Into Third Force Fold
However, another political association, National Consultative Front (NCFront), led by former speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Ghali Umar Na’Abba and well known economist, Prof Pat Utomi, have welcomed RNP into the third force fold.
NCFront, in a statement by a media assistant in its national secretariat, Yusuf Abdullahi Suleiman, revealed that its organisation intends to hold tactical talks with RNP, EndSars Movement, Nigeria Intervention Movement (NIM), Alliance for the Defence of Democracy (ADD) and others to rescue Nigeria from total collapse.
The statement, which noted that an all-stakeholders political coalition for electoral reforms will hold on October 1, this year, said “like-minded progressive political leaders, stakeholders and groups in the leading political parties have been contacted and have agreed to join forces with the new coalition to be launched in Abuja on Friday, October 1, 2021.
“NCFront is upbeat and quite optimistic that the emergence of the RNP will strengthen the Rescue Agenda initiated b NCFront in July 2020 under the leadership of Rt Hon Ghali Umar Na’abba and Prof Pat Utomi towards the emergence of a formidable credible alternative third force political movement to save Nigeria from rudderless political leadership and exploitative governance.”
The NCFront stated that, in line with its founding mandate, “it is prepared to fuse all variants of the Third Force Movement, including RNP led by Dr Usman Bugaje, Nigeria Intervention Movement, NIM, led by Dr Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, the EndSars Movement and the yet-to-be-launched Alliance for the Defence of Democracy, ADD, among others into a single formidable political bloc ahead of the 2023 elections in order to avoid an unfortunate alibi for the rigging of the 2023 elections as naively foisted in 2019, but to save Nigeria from imminent anarchy and threatening insecurity foisted as a result of the eroded legitimacy of ruling political leaders necessitated by flawed elections and unpopular mandate.”
NCFront added that it will mobilise and bring every credible stakeholder and like-minded political party to come together and launch an emergency national political coalition to champion the adoption of electronic transmission of election results for the 2023 elections.
“To this end, like-minded progressive political leaders, stakeholders and groups in the leading political parties have been contacted and have agreed to join forces with the new coalition to be launched in Abuja on Friday, October 1, 2021.”
“Others expected to play major roles in this new political coalition are respected labour and civil society leaders and notable elders, who have also agreed to serve as the new coalition’s advisers,” the political association said.