THERE were indications, on Thursday, of the emergence of two distinct power groups from within and outside the 44-member committee set up by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to work out the zoning formula to be adopted for the election of new national officers in October.
The development is coming as the committee had its first meeting in Enugu. It was learnt that the first camp, identified as the ‘Maintain the Status Quo Group’ prefers that all the current party offices to be retained across the geopolitical zones, while the second camp, the ‘Move Around Group’ canvasses that all the posts presently in the South be allocated to the North with the ones in the North moved to the South.
Under the agenda of the ‘Maintain the Status Quo Group’, the position of national chairmanship of PDP will be retained in the South while that of national secretary will move to the North.
However, the ‘Move Around Group’ members prefer that the next chairman of PDP comes from the North, while the South produces the secretary.
Besides, while the ‘Move Around Group’ believes that zoning the chairmanship to the North will make the presidential ticket to be automatically zoned to the South, they are said to be insisting that the issue at hand now is party position and when the party gets to the point where it has to nominate the presidential candidate, the matter will be resolved.
However, the ‘Maintain the Status Quo group’ prefers that the zoning committee also adopt the recommendation of the Governor Bala Mohammed-led committee on the review of the performance of the party in the 2019 general election that the presidential ticket of the party should be thrown open to all six zones.
The ‘Move Around Group’, sources disclosed, is led by Senator Anyim, with the support of some elements in the South-South and South-East zones, while the ‘Maintain the Status Quo’ group is led by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, with the backing of leaders of PDP across the South-West and the three zones in the North.
Also, a PDP governor from the North is said to be supporting the ‘Move Around Group’ because he is averse to a certain section of the North clinching the presidential ticket of the party.
The ‘Status Quo’ group is said to have the backing of another key governor from the South.
It is believed the Ugwanyi committee might opt for voting among members to apparently break the current deadlock on which area should produce chairman at convention of the party.
According to one of the sources, members of ‘Maintain the Status Quo’ group argue that a “mass transposition from North to South and vice versa in the zoning arrangement could defeat the argument that some members of the Uche Secondus-led NWC are being removed from office because of their performance.
“It is believed that a mass transposition system will make it obvious that the Secondus-led NWC is just a victim of politics.
“If not for the issue of performance which some leaders raised against the continuation of Secondus and his team, members of the current NWC would have been eligible to seek a second term.
“We are prevailing on them not to seek a second term because we believe they did not do well and that there is the need for change of strategy, approach and injection of new hands and some energy, vigour and wisdom into the party. So, to make mass switch across geopolitical divide will defeat the argument,” the source stated.
Another source who criticised the proposition of the ‘Move Around Group’, claimed that it comprised “people who want the presidential ticket zoned to their area” because of the challenge of going across the country to canvass for votes and seeking support that will give them a popular party mandate.”
The zoning committee has, however, clarified that it has no mandate to zone political offices such as president or vice president of the country. Chairman of the committee and Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, disclosed this while addressing newsmen after the closeddoor meeting held at the Government House, Enugu, on Thursday.
The closed-door meeting ended on Thursday with members of the committee adjourning till next week for conclusion of their work. Ugwuanyi said, “we had a fruitful meeting and we adjourned to conclude next week.”
Speaking on the terms of the committee, Ugwuanyi said “our committee is strictly limited to the PDP national executive offices to be contested at the 2021 national convention scheduled for the end of October 2021,” adding that “we have no mandate to zone political offices such as president or vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
He encouraged members of the committee to be open and constructive in their proposals and debates and also exhibit consistency with the enormity of their mandate.
Members present at the meeting were Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, who is the deputy chairman; deputy governor of Zamfara State, Aliyu Mohammed, who serves as secretary; former presidents of the Senate, Senator Iyorchia Ayu and Senator Anyim Pius Anyim and former governors of Niger, Ekiti, Sokoto, Jigawa and Adamawa states, Dr Muazu Aliyu Babangida, Ayodele Fayose, Attahiru Bafarawa, Sule Lamido and Boni Haruna, respectively.
Also present were Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, Sunday K. E Okoye, Chief Dan Orbih, Chief (Dr) Ali Odefa, Ambassador (Mrs) Kema Chikwe, Chief Osita Chidoka, Chidi Lloyd, Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw, Senator Emmanuel Nwaka, Donatus Udeh, among others.
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