Tempers have risen in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of today’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on the zoning of offices.
The NEC session is expected to ratify or reject the recommendations of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi Committee on Zoning, which was released last Thursday.Seven groups have emerged in the party which were poised for showdown today.There were fears of a plot to disrupt the NEC meeting by those aggrieved with Ugwuanyi Committee’s report.But Southern governors were adamant last night on the proposed zoning of the national chairman to the North and the choice of a former Senate President David Mark.The PDP governors and leaders were divided yesterday, with each camp engaging in massive lobbying, it was learnt.It was also learnt that the disagreement was compounded by a fresh suggestion to subject the report of the zoning committee to voting at the NEC meeting.Some governors and leaders have rejected the recommendation on voting in NEC.A reliable source, who spoke with our correspondent, said the party was going into the NEC meeting in seven groups.
- The groups are:
- leaders in favour of the status quo with Prince Uche Secondus’ National Working Committee conducting the National Convention
- Southern governors and leaders in favour and ratification of Ugwuanyi’s report;Southern/ Middle Belt leaders behind a Northern PDP chairman and the push for Sen.
- David Mark as the next PDP chairman;The camps of Northern presidential aspirants and governors opposed to the report on new zoning formula and seeking outright rejection;
- Religious apologists in the party claiming that a Christian Northerner cannot be party chairman with a Christian Southerner as President.
- PDP leaders seeking deferment/ suspension of the consideration of the Ugwuanyi Committee’s report;
- Party leaders and governors who want the presidential ticket of PDP thrown open.
According to findings, some governors and leaders of the party were uncomfortable with the tension associated with the report of Ugwuanyi’s Committee.The affected PDP leaders have been promoting the idea of deferring action on the report to allow more consultations.It was learnt that the PDP leaders cited a similar position of Governor Bala Mohammed’s Committee on the Review of 2019 General Elections, which recommended that the presidential ticket of the party for 2023 be left open.To avoid crisis, the PDP instead opted to raise a technical committee, which has not been done.A member of the NEC said: “We have never been this divided because of the touchy issue of zoning, which we should not have left a committee to decide.“I can tell you of the emergence of about seven groups in the party over the zoning formula unveiled by Ugwuanyi’s committee. Some leaders have demanded the retention of the status quo with the present NWC conducting the national convention; some are now pushing for either the ratification or rejection of the committee’s report; some are now reading religious politics to the exercise.
Others have asked us to suspend action on the consideration of the report to douse tension and we have those who are seeking a commitment to throw the presidential ticket of the party open to the North and South before considering Ugwuanyi Committee’s report.“In fact, the camps of Northern presidential aspirants like ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, ex-Senate President Bukola Saraki, Governor Aminu Tambuwal, ex-Governor Rabiu Kwankwanso and ex-Governor Sule Lamido do not support the zoning of the office of the national chairman of PDP to the North.”Another source said the camps of Atiku, Saraki, Tambuwal and others have been weighing options on whether or not to take the risk, with NEC ratification of the zoning formula for party offices.“If they allow PDP NEC to ratify the zoning formula, it may be the end of their presidential ambition because Southern governors have remained adamant on power shift to the South in 2023.“And in the last one week, there had been allegations and counter-allegations on how some PDP Southern presidential aspirants have been claiming victory with Ugwuanyi Committee’s report. Some are even boasting that they have beaten PDP Northern leaders to their game,” the source added.
As at press time, the Southern governors have stuck to the report of the zoning committee.“The same governors have insisted on going ahead with the choice of Mark as the next national chairman of PDP, despite the fact that ex-Governors Ahmed Makarfi, Ibrahim Shema, Sule Lamido, Babangida Aliyu and others have been thrown up.“There are two battles before the NEC. These are either to ratify or reject the committee’s report and the search for a new chairman. Although the choice of a new chairman may not be, obviously, part of the NEC agenda, it will impliedly guide the session.”A former governor, who spoke in confidence, said: “We anticipate a stormy NEC because they failed to heed our warning. Stakeholders in the party have sharply disagreed over Ugwuanyi Committee’s report, which has technically defined where the presidential slot of PDP will be zoned to.“Only a foolish politician will allow the report of the Ugwuanyi Committee’s Committee to sail through.
This is why we have the fears of the likely disruption of NEC session or an inconclusive NEC.“We gave them an honest advice to allow the status quo so that Prince Uche Secondus NWC can conduct our national convention. But ambition is killing this party.“For a party seeking to defeat the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2023, do we need to engage in self-inflicted crisis?“The more we try to navigate the situation at hand, the more we are running into another crisis. For instance, Sen. David Mark is a perfect fit for the post of a national chairman. But, if the presidential ticket is zoned to the South, PDP will automatically have a Southern Christian candidate. Is this not a dangerous permutation? In good conscience, can we alienate Muslim North or Hausa-Fulani with huge voting strength?“With the religious tension in the country, can PDP afford a Northern Christian as a chairman and a Southern Christian as a presidential candidate? Is the PDP no longer a symbol of Nigeria’s unity?“We need more time to reflect and come up with good permutations, instead of bowing to the whims and caprices of some governors who are desperate to be PDP presidential candidate in 2023.”
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