Ahead of Thursday’s National Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), members and leaders of the main opposition party are mounting pressure on the leadership to reject the zoning arrangement as proposed by the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi-led committee.
Majority of the PDP governors had voted in favour of zoning national chairman of the party to the North, a development that may have shut out the northern zone from contesting the nation’s presidency.
Rejecting the proposal Tuesday in Abuja through a statement by its convener, Reverend Olusola Salau, the PDP National Leaders Forum, called on the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) that is meeting Thursday to jettison what it described as the “self-serving proposal and maintain the status quo.”
The PDP chieftain said the composition of the Zoning Committee of the party was faulty for the reason that it was lopsided and deliberately skewed to satisfy the interest of a section of the party.
“For instance, Benue State has five representatives while Osun has no single representative. Even when that observation was raised at the meeting, a certain Governor from the South- South bullied everybody to ignore something as fundamental as that,” Salau said.
The statement also alleged that some members of the committee used the opportunity of being members of the committee to serve their political interest at the detriment of the party.
The group said: “We have it on good authority that one member of the committee who is a Governor in a South-South state was busy offering monetary inducements to sway other members from toeing the logical path. We know who this Governor is and we are aware that he is nursing a presidential ambition. We do not have any objection to his ambition. However, we will not accept a process that will make anyone fetch the presidential ticket of our great party through a manipulative process.”
Also, the group described the procedure by which the zoning committee rendered its report as “obnoxious and not known to the established pattern of how similar previous reports are presented in the party.
“The report is self-serving, ridiculous and embarrassing because the PDP NEC empowered and mandated the committee to recommend zoning of party offices. The normal practice is that the report must first be laid before the NEC for consideration and the party will then approve and announce final ratification just like the Governor Bala-led fact finding committee on the 2019 presidential election.
“Its report was laid before the NEC and approved. But in this case, the Governors and zoning committee acted in bad faith and if care is not taken the party will pay dearly for it in 2023.”
Another area of objection which the group cited bordered on the current zoning arrangement in the PDP which stipulates that the national chairman’s position is supposed to remain in the South.
Therefore, “must we punish the South alongside the outgoing chairman? Why is the committee in a hurry to throw away the baby with the bath water? For the avoidance of doubt there have been two zoning arrangements in the history of the PDP: one in 2007 and the other in 2017 which was to lapse in 2025. This arrangement gave the south the privilege to produce the national chairmanship of the party till 2025.
“If there were to be any zoning, it should be amongst the three zones of the South and, in that case, the Southwest that has never attained the position of the PDP National Chairman is more deserving of the position. This is even more so that the next two governorship elections before the 2023 general election will be in Osun and Ekiti. Thus, what will the PDP take to the Southwest to enable the zone to give our party a deserving victory in those two crucial elections?
Lastly and more importantly, the group said: “The PDP has a pedigree of being the only political party in Nigeria that comes to intervene when the country is at a boiling point as it is today. Be it at the time that the country was transitioning from military junta to civilian rule or when the country was burdened with a leadership vacuum that necessitated the doctrine of necessity, the PDP has always been the party that steers the country off the cliffs.
“This time around, Nigeria needs the PDP to come to its rescue once again. Our party needs to put someone with capacity and experience forward to do this job – not some characters that can’t even put the national interest ahead of their political ambition in a simple party assignment.
“We believe that Nigeria has never been this divided and broken and it is expedient on the principle of natural priority that another person from the North, who is more qualified and experienced should be our party’s candidate for the job to get Nigeria fixed.
“It is not the responsibility of the PDP to toe the line of ethic divisiveness that our main opponents are known for. Ours is a party built on principles and mutual respect for all shades of Nigerians.
“It is on this note that we humbly demand that the National Executive Committee of our great party reject in its entirety the submissions of the zoning committee. Zoning arrangement is a responsibility of the highest decision making organ of the party, not some self-serving governors and their cohorts.”
Northern youth kick
In a related development, the Northwest youth wing of the PDP is also against the party’s decision on zoning.
According to the PDP youth, the North is yet to complete its term of presidency under PDP as former President Goodluck Jonathan completed late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s tenure and went ahead to run his own first term at the expense of the North.
To this end, they said the North must complete its outstanding terms of office, vowing not to accept anything less in 2023.
Coordinator of the PDP National Youth Wing, Northwest Zone, Hon. Ibrahim Ahmadu, made the position known Tuesday in a statement in Kaduna.
He said: “The recent meeting held by southern governors and the demand that the next president should come from the south would be met with stiff resistance and vehemently rejected.
“We are going to fight it should the southern governors insist on zoning presidency to the south. Democracy is about equal representation with concerns for equity, justice and fairness, Where is the fairness if after 13 years of reign in the presidency, southerners are still demanding for presidential ticket come 2023?
“Southerners have enjoyed 13 out of the 16 years PDP has ruled this country. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo ruled for two terms of office (8 years), former President Goodluck Jonathan ruled for a term of 4 years and completed Late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s remaining one year in office (5 years). Altogether power resided in the south for 13 years out of the 16 years PDP reigned in power.
“The Constitution of PDP stipulates two terms for any political office holder, but late Yar’Adua only spent three year and died while in office.”
The PDP youth wing further said it would work and mobilise party members across the North to stop the passage of resolutions at the national convention scheduled for October 30th and 31st in Abuja.
“We are battle ready to fight this injustice and insensitive decision and resolutions in the interest of progress and justice.
“PDP is known for grassroots governance and fair democratic decision and these positions we are willing to maintain ahead of the 2023 general elections. We are calling on all party members to rise up now and say “No to zoning presidency to the South again.” Northerners especially should come together and speak with one voice,” the northern youth further warned.