September 05, (THEWILL) – The main opposition party in the country, the Peoples Democratic Party, has been enmeshed in a crisis in the past few weeks, making its leadership – the Governors Forum and the Board of Trustees – to have a tight schedule in Abuja in the last three or four weeks.
The crisis within the party revolves around the polarisation within its National Working Committee, whose chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, has been in the eye of the storm.
About five members of the National Working Committee recently resigned their membership, citing their displeasure with the way Secondus was running the affairs of the party as the major reason.
Contradicting judicial pronouncements on whether Secondus should leave office or not have made the crisis more intriguing.
A major step taken by the party’s Board of Trustees and the Governors Forum to nip the crisis in the bud was the postponement of the national convention of the party from December to October 30, 2021.
Also as part of the preparation for the convention, the party after its 92nd National Executive Committee’s meeting held penultimate weekend, has scheduled a meeting for September 9, 2021 where discussion on the zoning of NWC positions will be concluded.
Ahead of the party’s convention slated for October 31, 2021, political gladiators in the PDP are already girding their loins as the race for the position of party chairman and by extension, the 2023 presidential candidacy of the party hots up.
Those who are eyeing the presidential ticket from the North include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State; former Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido; former Senate President Bukola Saraki; Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and former Kano State Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso.
Each of these aspirants is backing the South to produce the next Chairman of the party so that he can realise his ambition to become its candidate in the 2023 presidential election. The aspirants are also supporting different candidates for the position of chairman so that they can have an easy run in the presidential primary.
THEWILL gathered that while Atiku Abubakar is backing the candidate of the party in last year’s Ondo governorship election, Mr Eyitayo Jegede, to be the chairman, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola is said to be enjoying the support of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Governor Sule Lamido for the same position.
Other southerners in the PDP that are showing interest in the position of chairman include a former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George, Prince Uche Secondus and former National Vice Chairman, South West, Eddy Olafeso.
Also, some PDP gladiators in the South are eyeing the presidency, come 2023. Those whose body language indicate their interest are Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State; and former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi.
These aspirants are pressing the North to produce the next chairman of the party so as to enable them to realise their ambition of emerging as the presidential candidate of the party.
The zoning of political offices among the country’s geopolitical zones has been a feature of the PDP since it was created in 1998.
Speaking with THEWILL, Olabode George said the founding fathers of the PDP adopted zoning to bring a sense of belonging to members of the party across the country.
He said, “The PDP is a party that spread from the savannah forest in the North to the swampy rain forest in the South. It is a national party. To ensure there is stability and to give a sense of belonging to all, a zoning formula was adopted by our founding fathers. It is what I have described as Turn by Turn Limited. This has brought cohesion to a big party, the largest in Africa. Our founding fathers have foresight and that is why the party has remained since 1998, while others have faded away”.
The issue of zoning also came to the fore recently when the committee set up to review the performance of the party in the 2019 general election and led by Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State recommended that the party should allow aspirants from all parts of the country to contest for its 2023 presidential ticket.
The committee said that although many people thought a special consideration should be given to the North-East and South-East for the sake of fairness and equity; merit, rather than zonal consideration, should be adopted in the choice of the party’s presidential candidate.
It said the two geopolitical zones have had the shortest stints at the Presidency.
The committee, whose members include the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe; former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu; former member of the Senate, Stella Omu and Emmanuel Agbo, who served as secretary, said. “In line with certain unwritten conventions of the nation’s history, many people think that for fairness and equity, the North-East and South-East geo-political zones that have had the shortest stints at the Presidency should be given special consideration in choosing the presidential flag bearer of the party for the 2023 elections.
“While we admit that this is a strong argument, we should not lose sight of the fact that Nigeria is endowed with many capable and very experienced leaders in every part of the country.”
The committee’s report received widespread criticism, especially in the South which believes that it should produce the next President of the country.
A chieftain of the party told THEWILL, on the condition of anonymity, that zoning must be adopted, adding that the only option for PDP to win the 2023 presidency is for it to zone the ticket to the North.
He argued that since the last President under the PDP, Goodluck Jonathan, came from the South, the next presidential candidate of the party must come from the North.
As the party prepares for its convention, the crucial meeting where zoning will be adopted for political offices, analysts believe it will be a hot one and the way the party handles the outcome will determine its success in the 2023 general election.