Zoning ripples widen in PDP over party chair

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There is unease in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 48 hours to its crucial National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.Zoning of offices is the cause of anxiety amid moves by senior figures to influence which geo-political zone gets which office.

Of major concern is the position of chairman, whose zoning is likely to influence which region will produce the standard bearer for the 2023 presidential election.The Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi Zoning Committee last week recommended that the position of chairman should go to the North against the push by Northern elders that the position should go to the South.The recommendation has sparked a spirited lobbying by party stalwarts in the North to get the NEC meeting to upturn the proposal.

The Southern governors are lobbying for the ratification of the panel’s recommendation.A source in the party, who is a member of NEC, said: “If the NEC meeting is not well-handled, the PDP may break up.”Investigation showed that the issues before NEC are as follow:

  • Ratification of the recommendations of the Ugwuanyi Committee
  • Upturning or suspending action on Ugwuanyi Committee’s report
  • Retaining the present formula till after the court matters on the suspended National Chairman Uche Secondus have been dispensed with
  • Acepting Ugwuanyi Committee’s report and throwing the presidential ticket open to the North and the South.

It was gathered that the camps of ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, ex-Senate President Bukola Saraki, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal and some Northern PDP leaders were rallying forces against the Ugwuanyi Committee report at NEC.The Southern governors, who form majority in the PDP Governors Forum and in NEC, are standing by the panel’s recommendation.It was learnt that Atiku, Saraki and Tambuwal saw the recommendation as “delicate” for their 2023 presidential ambition.The three presidential aspirants and their loyalists have discovered that they have played into the hands of Governor Nyesom Wike who is the arrowhead of the Southern governors group.

Although there is a window of throwing the party’s presidential ticket open at the National Convention, the affected aspirants were said not to be not ready to take such a risk.It was also learnt that they fear that they might not be able to convince former Senate President David Mark to step aside if he emerges as party’s national chairman if the game plan changes at the national convention.According to a top source, the presidential aspirants have “decided to nip the plot of the Southern governors in the bud at the NEC meeting.”The insistence of the Southern governors on the choice of Mark as PDP national chairman has pitted them against some governors and the presidential aspirants from the North.

Party spokesman Kola Ologbodiyan dismissed the fear of a stormy NEC meeting, saying the party could withstand any situation.He declined to speak on the meeting, because the agenda was not “yet officially out”.Ologbodiyan said: “Certainly, the meeting all local on Thursday as scheduled, barring an unforeseen contingency.He said the zoning committee had submitted its report to the National Working Committee (NWC) for onward transmission to the NECOlogodiyan said: “In the analysis of the Nigerian modern political history, PDP has come across as a well-structured party had “always demonstrated a democratic capacity to understand any form of political storm”.

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