STRATEGIC stakeholders battling for the zoning of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, 2023 presidential ticket to the North and their counterparts angling for the South have upped their game ahead of the National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting on Thursday.
Among others, the NEC will deliberate and, thereafter, ratify or modify the recommendations of the zoning committee, led by Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
The zoning committee after tension-soaked meetings in Enugu and Abuja, zoned the national chairmanship to the North, which by PDP tradition means the South would produce the presidential candidate.
However, Vanguard gathered that this is not cast in stone as some stakeholders are working on a number of options.
One is getting the NEC not to ratify what the zoning committee did and allow the current zoning formula to be retained for 2023.
Another is agreeing with the zoning committee but throwing the presidency open. This will enable the stakeholders get a ‘’willing” northern politician, who supports the northern presidency to emerge as chairman.
Such a politician is expected to resign his chairmanship to allow a southerner take the post for the northern presidency to fly.
However, there is fear that the ‘’willing” politician may not vacate his seat, which may leave the PDP with a Northern chairman and Northern presidential candidate that will go against party tradition and ‘mood” of the nation.
Besides, it could lead to repeat of the Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff/Senator Ahmed Makarfi scenario when the former refused to vacate the national chairmanship and the party fought all the way to the Supreme Court to get him out.
If that happens in an election year, party insiders said the PDP would be shooting itself on its foot electorally.
Indeed, a source told Vanguard, weekend that by getting the zoning committee to zone the chairmanship to the North, ‘the South may have played into the hands of the North. What the North is planning is that at the NEC meeting, they will push for the party to announce that the Presidency will be open to all interested candidates.
“In that case, the North will present a top candidate who believes in Northern Presidency and when the time for presidential primaries comes, a northerner may still emerge.”
Meanwhile, ahead of the October 31 national elective convention of the party, leaders and stakeholders of the PDP are set to square up against 13 governors of the party particularly for the position of the PDP national chairman
This is even as Vanguard gathered that key offices in the National Working Committee, NWC, have been micro-shared across all six geo-political zones.
The North-Central will produce the national chairman, national treasurer as well as the national legal adviser.
In the incumbent NWC, the North Central holds the Offices of National Finance Secretary and the National Publicity Secretary.
The South-West which currently has in its kitty the positions of National Deputy Chairman (South) and National Treasurer will produce the National Publicity Secretary.
The South-South currently holds the positions of the National chairman, and Legal Adviser while the South-East holds the offices of National Organizing Secretary and National Youth Leader. In the outgoing NWC, the North-East is holding the positions of Deputy National Chairman (North), National Woman Leader, and National Auditor, while The North-West is holding the position of National Secretary.
On the tension generated by the new zoning formula, the caucus of the party in the National Assembly, the forum of former governors as well as many other eminent leaders in the North are unhappy about what some called the unilateral decision of the governors to impose their will on the zoning committee.
It would be recalled that the National Convention Zoning Committee of the party led by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, last Thursday after a meeting in Abuja recommended swapping of NWC positions such that those being held by North would be taken over by the South and vice versa.
It was learnt that a sizeable number of aggrieved members have equally threatened to protest against the zoning formula in 94th meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) slated for Thursday.
A NEC member who confided in Vanguard accused the governors of using the zoning committee to hatch their earlier plan to prevent serving members of the NWC from seeking re-election in the October 30/31 convention.
Citing section 47(1) of the Constitution of the PDP, he disclosed that should NEC endorse the zoning formula as proposed by the Ugwuanyi-led committee, it may prepare grounds for fresh litigations that may affect the holding of the convention.
Section 47(1) of the PDP constitution reads:
“All National, Zonal, State, Local Government Area and Ward Officers of the party shall hold office for a term of four years and shall be eligible for re-election for another term and no more”
He said: “What the governors are trying to do is a serious breach of PDP’s constitution which guarantees the right to seek re-election for every serving member of the NWC. They raised this at one of the meetings of NEC but were seriously opposed and defeated.
“By suggesting that NWC positions being held by persons from the North be swapped for positions in the South, they have automatically prevented all serving NWC members from seeking re-election. For instance, what if the serving National chairman wants to seek re-election to the same position? What if the serving National Organizing Secretary wants to seek re-election to the same position? You will discover that these persons can’t do so because their positions have been taken away from their zones,” he stressed.