PDP chair: North and micro-zoning to South-west

EMEKA NZE in this article juxtaposes the opposing views of northern groups which favour or disfavour micro-zoning of the PDP national chairmanship to the South-west.
Three days to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) national convention, the irritating din of micro zoning is yet to abate, rather, like a Sword of Damocles, it continues to hang around the neck of the party, threatening to make or mar its convention on which success or otherwise rests the party’s existence or extinction.
The micro zoning brouhaha has persisted in spite clarifications by the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee that the rule at play is the resolution of the last non-elective convention, which recognised zoning between North and South.
However, aside from the North and South zoning, Makarfi had suggested that a zone can micro zone by virtue of political negotiations and consensus building which can further streamline and decongest the political contest to the advantage of the party.
The synopsis of the foregoing seems to translate that the contextual meaning of Makarfi’s explanation is seemingly lost- either deliberately miscarried for selfish ends or flagrantly misconstrued by party elements, who are bent on rubbishing the feeble fledgling peace enjoyed by the party.
Only last Thursday, a group which called itself Peoples Democratic Party Northern Elders and Leaders Forum did the same in issued a communique at the end of its meeting in Abuja. The communique was signed by the former Governor of Kano state, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau and Former Speaker, Benue State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Margaret Icheen.
Part of the communique read: “The forum received reports from the three geo-political zones of the region, regarding the micro-zoning of positions zoned to them, in line with the spirit of rotation. The forum resolved that capable and competent aspirants should be identified and supported.
“The forum directed the geo-political zones to put in place mechanisms to reconcile those that are aggrieved as a result of the micro-zoning in their zone.
“The forum re-emphasized that, rebuilding the confidence of Nigerians on the PDP as we move towards 2019 remains paramount. Therefore, whatever decision that is to be taken should be in tandem with this.
“As we head to the national convention, the forum showed keen interest on the position of the national chairman. After extensive deliberations, it was resolved that, in the spirit of fairness, equity, carrying every part of the country along, giving every geo-political zone a sense of participation and inclusion in the affairs of the PDP, we strongly support the quest of the Southwest geo-political zone to produce the next national chairman of the party.
“In line with our resolve to rebuild and reposition the PDP, we urge delegates from all the Northern states to abide by this decision and vote for only aspirants from the Southwest geo-political zone in the forthcoming national convention, in the best interest of the party. This is without prejudice to the right of aspirants from other geo-political zones to contest.
“The forum considered other sensitive issues that have serious bearing on the success of the party in the 2019 general elections and reiterated the need for all and sundry to put hands on deck for the success of the party.
“The forum called on all members of the party to accord the National Caretaker Committee (NCC), the required support to conduct a credible, transparent, free and fair convention on the 9th-10th of December, 2017.”
Less than 12 hours the group issued the communique, another group, PDP Concerned Northern Youth, who said they attended the meeting of the PDP Northern Elders and Leaders Forum which they said lasted till the early hours of Friday in a press briefing on the same Friday, distanced themselves from the resolution which specially said the chairmanship of the party has been micro zoned to the Southwest.
Led by an ex-lawmaker at the House of Representatives, Hon Sani Kutigi, the PDP Concerned Northern Youth said: “Various groups and contending interests are jostling for vantage positions ahead of the National Convention of the People‘s Democratic Party coming up on 9 Dec. 2017.
“The latest most obnoxious and objectionable plot is by some party members from the North who have purportedly micro-zoned the national chairmanship of the party to the Southwest in a bid to accord undue advantage to a preferred aspirant.
“This is contrary to the agreed arrangement of the party which has at no time been changed. This group of people lacks any authority or voice to speak on behalf of the North as a homogeneous entity and is, therefore, on its own.
“Their action is hereby rejected and totally condemned. The majority of the members from the North dissociate themselves from this misadventure, which patents unintended consequences if left unchallenged.
“It is a slap on the face and an insult on the face of Southern Nigerian politicians/leaders that few members from the North can sit down and determine who to elect.
“While rejecting micro-zoning we affirm our belief in the sanctity of the larger, more inclusive arrangement which gave Southern Nigeria the position of national chairman of our great party.
“Party members from the North pledge to support only a free and fair process where a new national chairman will emerge regardless of which place he comes, so long as he is from any of the states that make up Southern Nigeria.
“This decision is to forestall a situation where the action under scrutiny is used to deny certain section a shot at the offices as currently zoned through a dubious and undemocratic means of micro-zoning.
Finally, if the party must re-invent itself as the true vanguard of democracy in Nigeria, it should not allow certain elements to hijack and abuse due process in the upcoming National Convention as this will only amount to going back to an inglorious past that we will rather forget.
To further knock out the position of the PDP Northern Elders and Leaders Forum, PDP chairmen in the 19 Northern states after their meeting in Abuja rejected the zoning of national chairmanship to South-west.
The chairmen reaffirmed commitment to the zoning of two principal positions as agreed at the party’s National Convention in Port Harcourt last year. Hassan Hyat, Chairman, Forum of PDP State Chairmen in the North, who addressed the press after the meeting, said that the forum “rejected any move to sub-zone the seat to any particular zone”.
“The position cannot be sub-zoned to a particular zone in the south because that will disenfranchise other contestants. We, as state chairmen, cannot be party to any micro-zoning.
“The party’s decision at the Port Harcourt Convention is final and binding on all. No one has the right to change or tamper with it,” Mr. Hyat declared.
The Forum of chairmen said in their statement: “The party’s decision is that all parts of the South should be given the opportunity to present their candidates so that delegates can choose the best material for the position of national chairman.
“We stand by that position and have resolved to reject any sub-zoning to a particular area,” the forum declared. The forum further declared that zoning was a cardinal principle of the PDP and should never be toyed with.
“As the national convention gets closer, our stance on the zoning arrangement remains unshakeable. We believe that our party will only get stronger if we remain committed to it,” he said.
The forum urged delegates to assess candidates critically and vote on merit, and advised the contestants to be “temperate and civil” in the use of language. The party’s interest should be the principal guiding spirit. No other personal or group’s interest should be placed over it,” the group declared.
It urged members seeking positions to “understand that power comes from God” and be prepared to accept whoever God ordained to lead the PDP.

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