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PDP defers decision on presidency, zones chairmanship seat to North

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has adopted the zoning of its national chairmanship position to the North, upholding recommendations of the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi-led zoning committee.


However, it didn’t foreclose that the much-coveted 2023 presidency would be zoned to the South as the party announced that a separate National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting will be convened at a later date to discuss the report of the Governor Bala Mohammed-led committee that had earlier recommended that the Presidency be thrown open to all the six geopolitical zones of the country.

This was the high point of the highly anticipated 94th NEC meeting that was held in Abuja, yesterday. The NEC is the second-highest decision-making body of the party.

Briefing newsmen after the meeting, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said though there were discussions around the Bala Mohammed-led committee, which looked into reasons why the party lost the 2019 elections and the question of zoning of the 2023 presidential ticket, it was agreed that further discussions and decision on the subject should be left till another date.

Report of the Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi-led committee on zoning, which was adopted yesterday, stated, that “the current offices being held by officers in the Southern zones of the country, namely Southwest, Southeast and South-South should swap places with the offices currently held by occupants from Northwest, Northeast and North-Central zones.”

Some party members have expressed reservations about the recommendation and its implications for the presidential ambition of some northerners.

At a pre-event briefing, the chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin, had appealed to party leaders to put national interest and the party’s survival ahead of personal interests.

Ologbondiyan disclosed that though the issue of the presidency was not on the agenda, NEC members agreed that another meeting should be convened to consider an existing reports on it. “The peaceful resolution of issues arising from the zoning of PDP chairmanship is a product of series of consultations among stakeholders,” he noted.

As early as 9:00 a.m. yesterday, PDP governors met at the Rivers State governors’ lodge in Abuja where comprehensive explanations and clarifications were made on how the zoning of chairmanship would not affect the presidency. The consultations allayed fears of many from the North that the party was set to pick its presidential ticket from the Southern part of the country.

Hours before the actual commencement of the meeting, some people had converged on the party secretariat protesting against what they called discrimination against the North.

Some of the placards displayed by the protesters had inscriptions like: “What did the North do to PDP?”, “Stop cheating the North”, “Wike brought Sheriff, Wike brought Secondus, now he wants to truncate the turn of the North”, “PDP, give North their rights”, and “Two years of North vs 13 years of South.”

In a strong campaign to boost his chance of running again under the banner of the major opposition party, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, tasked the PDP to pay less attention to where a President emerges from.

According to him, “where the President comes from has never been the problem of Nigeria, neither will it be the solution.”

Atiku, who was the presidential candidate of the main opposition party in the 2019 elections, believes the PDP has the right to determine who represents it or not, just as citizens reserve the right to decide who to vote for.

“There is no such thing as a President from Southern Nigeria or a president from Northern Nigeria. There is only one fact, a president from Nigeria, for Nigeria and by Nigerians.”

Atiku, who preached justice and fairness at the meeting, narrated how he took part in the drafting of the 1999 Constitution and later, along with others, resolved that the Presidency should go to the Southwest in 1999 to compensate the zone for the injustice it suffered.

He also shocked many at the NEC meeting when he remarked that the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola, was killed.

Citing some historical events, Atiku said: “Those of us who served in the constitutional conference, which drafted the current Constitution of Nigeria should remember that after we finished the draft, we all met as members of the conference and resolved to correct the injustice that was done to a particular part of this country. And we said, in whichever party you found yourself, your presidential candidate must come from the Southwest, because Abiola had won the election, but it was annulled. Not only was his election annulled, but he was also killed.

“So, we all agreed as members, and we went out of the constitutional conference and formed our parties. At the end of the day, two parties emerged. The PDP picked Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) picked Chief Olu Falae. All of these show you that Nigerians have a sense of fairness,’’ he stressed.

To demonstrate his belief in fairness, Atiku explained how he rejected calls to frustrate Obasanjo’s second term bid in 2003.

He said: “Distinguished members of NEC, in 2003, all the PDP governors met at the villa and said they were not going to support President Obasanjo for a second term, that I should run. I now referred them to the resolution of NEC, where NEC decided that power should remain in the Southwest for eight years. How do you now want me to go against the resolution of NEC? I turned it down and we moved on.

“So, this country has a sense of fairness. This country has a sense of justice. Therefore, this thing that is inbuilt in our party, we should be able to use it, to imbibe it to make sure today’s deliberations are in the best interest of our party and in the best interest of Nigeria, which will ultimately give us the victory that we asked for, to go back to the villa.”

Acting chairman, Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, reminded party leaders that “today is a day of making history in the life and survival of the party. Nigerians are eagerly waiting for PDP to take them out of the challenges of socio-political vices created by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).”

Despite the efforts of the Senator David Mark-led reconciliation committee to have all court cases withdrawn to pave way for the forthcoming convention of the party, suspended national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, has said the need to challenge the “lies” told against him by an unnamed governor informed his decision to approach the Court of Appeal to challenge his suspension.

  The embattled national chairman said ever since the orchestrated plans by a governor to hijack the soul of PDP, he had been the target of unrestrained blackmail.

  In a statement, yesterday, by his Special Assistant on Media, Ike Abonyi, Secondus explained that it was because of baseless lies that he (Secondus) as National Chairman was not meeting up with his obligations at his ward level in Rivers State that he approached the court to get the purported interim order. 

  He added: “After the interim order based on such frivolous story, the said governor and his errand boys went ahead to get the court ruling against Prince Secondus.

  “For being so treated and victimised without any justification whatsoever after almost four years of selfless service to the party, Prince Secondus is left with no option but to fight for his fundamental rights by approaching the court to seek redress and correct the blackmail and concoctions.”

 The statement noted that notwithstanding the frivolous nature of the allegations, “Prince Secondus on his own, as a strong believer in the rule of law, decided to respect the court by staying away, while seeking the necessary right that should correct the judicial ambush against him and the party.

  “While awaiting the outcome of the case presented at the Court of Appeal, the blackmail has continued unabated with fabrications and all kinds of laughable lies to the fact that Prince Secondus is romancing with the opposition.”

   He asserted that his records in the party remain untainted from state chairman through national organising secretary, deputy national chairman to national chairman since December 2017.

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