…Zoning committee won’t micro-zone chairmanship, Presidency
…Why party is silent on zoning Presidency- National Officer
By Dirisu Yakubu
Ahead of its October 30th and 31st national elective convention, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has chosen to pick its national chairman and 2023 Presidential candidate from the South and North respectively. Although, the zoning committee chaired by Enugu state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi failed to make a categorical statement on the distribution of offices in the National Working Committee when it met in Enugu last week, it is expected to do so when it converge on Wednesday this week.
12 out of the 13 governors elected on the platform of the party have unanimously endorsed the retention of the Office of the national chairman in the South. Thus, despite the exit of suspended chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, the office will remain in the South, with the South-West tipped to produce the next chairman.
Retaining the office of the chairman in the South automatically makes the North the preferred zone for the Presidential ticket in 2023. Sunday Vanguard gathered however that Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike had done everything possible to prevail on the Ugwuanyi-led committee to throw the race to the national chairmanship open to all zones. His argument was premised on the notion that good, capable hands to steer the affairs of the party abound everywhere in the country. Wike had further argued that zoning any of the party offices may deny PDP the opportunity of having the best man for the job at the helm at Wadata.
Were this to have scaled through, the party would have been left with no option but to similarly throw open the Presidential ticket to all party leaders regardless of their states of origin.
Plausible as the reasons he advanced were, Wike soon realized that he was a lone ranger as his colleagues faulted his stand and opted for a chairman of Southern extraction.
A national officer of the party who joined hands with Wike in the clamour for Secondus’ removal told Sunday Vanguard that the governors chose to back out of Wike’s ship because it is “more of personal interest than for the good of the party.”
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the official said contrary to the argument of Governor Wike, “his colleague governors are aware that he has his eyes fixed on the 2023 Presidency. He knows that a Southern chairman will make it difficult for the PDP to have a Presidential candidate from the South. So, he wasn’t asking that the race be thrown open for no reason. He wants to vie for the highest elective office in 2023 but I think it is clear to him now that the PDP cannot oblige his dream for now. The governors are of the opinion that if the ruling party is going South, it must head in the opposite direction to seize the moment,” he said.
A PDP governor from the North-East, this medium gathered had argued convincingly in one of their meetings in Abuja recently on the danger of fielding a Southern Presidential candidate in 2023. He was said to have told his colleagues and other party faithful that a good number of Northerners in the ruling party would vote the PDP if it fields a Northern candidate as the APC is expected to field a Southerner. The meeting attended by all the PDP governors lay to rest the possibility of zoning the Presidency away from the North.
Although, the source noted that Wike has not completely ruled out his Presidential ambition, he is now ready to team up with his colleagues to have the chairmanship retained in the South provided the South-South and South-East are excluded. This position was well received by the zoning committee’s meeting in Enugu last week.
“Wike alongside the Oyo state governor, Seyi Makinde want to see Olagunsoye Oyinlola as the next PDP chairman. They are not alone in this. Ab initio, Wike knew that his pro-South Presidency on the platform of the PDP is difficult to sell just as having a Northerner as PDP chairman is. The alternative choice is that yes, the South can have the chairmanship provided it is not going the way of the South-South. He won’t back the South-East for the position because his long-time friend, Oyinlola is interested in the office,” he added.
Meanwhile, a former Minister under the government of President Goodluck Jonathan and a member of the National Executive Committee, NEC of the PDP has given reasons the party is evading a categorical statement on zoning of the Presidential ticket ahead of the next general election.
According to him, zoning is a sensitive issue which should be handled diligently, saying, “You need to be careful so as not to play into the hands of your enemy. The All Progressives Congress, APC is taking a similar stand for the same reason. Even though they are looking at a Southerner to fly their ticket, silence is the word for now. The PDP would have to wait until the very last minute even though we have done our homework well. I can tell you now without mincing words that if the APC openly comes out today to say they have zoned their Presidential ticket to the South, the PDP will announce that it is zoning to the North,” he added.
The decision of the Ugwuanyi-led committee on Wednesday will be taken to the 94th NEC meeting of the party slated for October for ratification.