By Dirisu Yakubu, Abuja
WITH barely a week to the elective convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), stakeholders of the party from the north under the auspices of the Northern Elders and Leaders Forum have thrown their weight behind the South-West geo-political zone to produce the national chairman.
In a communique signed at the end of its meeting which ended in the early hours of yesterday, the forum called on all geo-political zones to put in place measures that would reconcile those not disposed to the contentious micro zoning arrangement.
Among Northern leaders present at the meeting were Senator David Mark, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, Ambassador Aminu Wali, Professor Jerry Gana and Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau. Also present were Senator Jonah Jang, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, Mallam Adamu Maina Waziri, Mr. Gabriel Suswam among others.
Their assertions were immediately rebuffed at a press conference addressed by a group, Northern Youths Politicians of PDP like-minds who flayed the elders for their decision to back the South-West as they claimed that at no time was the office of national chairman micro-zoned to the Southwest.
The statement of the Northern elders was signed by the former governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau and the erstwhile Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, the Rt. (Hon.) Margret Icheen.
In their communiqué the elders called on Northern delegates to support the South-West chairmanship bid, even as it enjoined the National Caretaker Committee (NCC) to conduct a free fair and credible convention slated for Saturday.
“In line with our resolve to rebuild and reposition the PDP, we urge delegates from all the Northern states to abide by this decision and vote for only aspirants from the South-West geo-political zone in the forth coming national convention, in the best interest of the party. This is without prejudice to the right of aspirants from other geo-political zones to contest.
“The forum received reports from the three geo-political zones of the region, regarding the micro-zoning of positions zoned to them, in line with the spirit of rotation and resolved that capable and competent aspirants should be identified and supported,” the communiqué read in part.
Meanwhile, a youth group “The Northern Youths Politicians of PDP like-minds” has taken a swipe at the Northern Elders and Leaders Forum for choosing to back the South-West for the chairmanship position.
In a press conference yesterday, the group faulted the communiqué issued by the Elders Forum, stating that at no point was the issue of which geo-political zone to support for the South-West came up at the meeting.
Spokesperson of the group, Honourable Sanni Kutigi said the group condemned the communiqué as it portends dangers for the party and democracy.
“ The latest most obnoxious and objectionable plot is by some party members from the north who have purportedly micro-zoned the national chairmanship of the South-West in a bid to accord undue advantage to a preferred aspirant.
This is contrary to the agreed arrangement of the party which has at no time been changed. This group of people lacks any authority or voice to speak on behalf of the North as a homogeneous entity and is therefore on its own,” said Hon. Kutigi.