By Dayo Benson, Political Editor & Umoru Henry
LAGOS—AN implosion is brewing in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, over lingering controversial zoning of 2011 presidency with conflicting interests intensifying efforts to gain upper hand even as the presidency was said to be displeased over the party’s Board of Trustees, BOT, and National Caucus positions on zoning.
Moves to remove the clause in the party’s constitution that legalized zoning, yesterday, suffered a major setback as the party’s, BoT, at the end of its meeting said zoning must stay.

At the end of the meeting held at the Presidential Villa, members of the BoT stressed that rather than jettison it, the issue of rotation and zoning would be in the  best interest of the country. It  added that since President Goodluck Jonathan was running on late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s ticket, he would be free to run for the election in 2011 till 2015.

Contrary to calculations in President Jonathan’s camp, the PDP caucus which met, Tuesday night, in Abuja was opposed to the proposed amendment of S. 7(2) (c) of the party’s constitution which was intended to pave way for Jonathan emergence as PDP presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party will today ratify decisions of the PDP National Caucus and that of the BOT that had all agreed that zoning must not be tampered with.

It was gathered that today’s NEC will be storming against the backdrop that the governors will fight it out with the National Chairman, Dr. Nwodo over the issue of on line registration, and the streamlining of delegates to national convention where the governors currently enjoy 70 per cent of delegates.

Sources said the governors were not ready to play with the opportunity where their powers would be taken from them with the Chairman’s present arrangement. A source at the meeting which was presided over by its Chairman, said the meeting was attended by  former President Olusegun Obasanjo, its former Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih, while leader of the pro-zoning Northern Elders and Leaders Forum, NPEF, and former Minister of Finance, Mallam Adamu Ciroma was absent.

Vanguard learnt that members at the meeting also discussed the on line registration exercise of the Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo led National Working Committee, NWC project, just as it was gathered that it did not go well with majority of the members.

The source added that the BoT advised that the matter be presented to NEC for discussions and for subsequent adoption.

Principle of equity

According to section 7.2 (c) of the PDP’s 2009 amended constitution, the controversial clause reads, “in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice, and fairness, the Party shall adhere to the policy of rotation and zoning of party and public elective offices and it shall be enforced by the appropriate executive committee at all levels.”

The source said: “At the meeting, it was discussed that zoning must stay and taking the present situation as Yar’Adua/Jonathan’s ticket which would end in 2015, so the BoT said President Goodluck Jonathan should contest and stay till 2015, then the North would have it after then because the present one is a continuation of Yar’Adua’s ticket. We believe that after Jonathan the North will come for two terms from 2015.”

It was gathered that the Presidency was also said to be uncomfortable with outcome of South East leaders meeting on Tuesday at the Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja with former military president   Ibrahim Babangida and other Northern leaders where the South East leaders lent their support to zoning.

Already the position of the South East leaders had pitted the presidency against South East governors who were expected to support zoning at next Monday’s summit in Enugu.

It was in the bid to have a full control of the South East that efforts were intensified lately to woo Governors Theodore Orji of Abia State ad his Anambra State counterpart to the ruling party.

Another dimension of the crisis rocking PDP was threats of possible decampment of Governors Timipreye Sylva of Bayelsa State, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State.

Also threatening to leave the party were Governors Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State, Ikedi Ohakim of  Imo State; Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State and Mahmud Shinkafi of Zamfara State.

While Governors Sylva, Amaechi and Uduaghan might be denied  their second term ticket by the party, it was, however, learnt that  the president was said to be particularly worried about the possibility of his home state governor leaving PDP.

Governor Ohakim was said to have incurred the wrath of the party leadership by going ahead with the local government election in the state despite the party’s objection.

On his part Governor Yuguda was said to be facing a tough battle as the presidency was said to have found acceptable alternative to him in the Federal Capita Territory Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, who had been championing zoning in the North East.

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