* We won’t disappoint Nigerians, NEC member assures
* Zoning committee has concluded its work, chairmanship remains in South – Source
By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon & Steve Oko, LAGOS
REGARDLESS of which region of the country that produces the national chairman of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, there are indications that the national hierarchy of the party may throw the presidential contest open.
The Zoning Committee of the party headed by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, will conclude its task tomorrow. It met last Thursday in Enugu, where sources said the majority of the members supported the position of national chairman should be zoned to the South.
Zoning the national chairmanship to the South means the presidential ticket will go to the North, according to party tradition.
Governor Ugwuanyi told reporters last Thursday that his panel does not have the mandate to zone election positions such as the presidency.
There were conflicting reports that the work of the zoning committee was inconclusive fueling speculations that the chairmanship may be zoned to the North eventually.
However, sources at the meeting told Vanguard, yesterday, that the zoning committee’s meeting was concluded and the chairmanship would go to the South.
Speaking on the issues, a member of the National Working Committee, NWC, told Vanguard: “We have handed over the zoning to the planning committee because we are indifferent, we don’t have a position.
“I can tell you that the party will zone the chairmanship position to the North. The position is that all the positions in the South will go to the North, while the positions in the North will come to the South. As regards the presidency, it will be left blank, it will be open to all contenders but we will look at the direction of the APC.
“We will look at the direction of the APC and also feel the mood of the country regarding the zoning of the presidency. If Nigerians hail the zoning, that will give us the opportunity to zone the presidency to the South.
“If the APC decides to zone the presidency to the North and it is acceptable to Nigerians, the PDP will pick its presidential candidate from the North.
“We will look at their direction and leave ours pending. We will not pick our presidential candidate now and that is why we want to zone the party positions first before the presidential position.
“If we pick a northern presidential candidate, it does not mean that the chairman, who is from the north, will not step down. If we pick a southern presidential candidate, it does not mean the chairman, who is from the South, will not step down for the benefit of equity and justice.”
PDP won’t disappoint Nigerians – NEC member
Indeed, a member of the National Executive Council NEC, of the PDP, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, has assured that the party will not disappoint Nigerians in its choice of the zone to fly its presidential ticket.
Senator Ohuabunwa, who spoke with Vanguard in Abia, explained that the reluctance of the party in zoning its presidential slot was deliberate and for strategic reasons.
He said it was not politically wise at this point to zone such a sensitive position due to the prevailing circumstances.
Ohuabunwa said: “The PDP is an experienced party with experienced politicians and responsible patriots who reason with human conscience”, adding that the party will be guided by the principle of equity, justice and fairness in zoning its presidential ticket.
He dismissed fears in some quarters that the South-East might be shortchanged based on the permutation that the party is likely to settle for South-West and Northern region for its party chairmanship, and presidential slots respectively.
He said: “The truth is that PDP will scatter if we go into zoning of the presidency now. Let’s get done with our national convention first. You know we are not the party in power. The present situation is not what it used to be. Things have changed, so we also need to change tactics.
“I can assure you that when we get to the zoning of presidential ticket we shall handle it fairly. It’s a party thing, we will resolve it in a way no zone will feel shortchanged. We should not use the zoning of the party chairmanship as a yardstick on which zone to cede our presidential ticket. When we get to the river, we will cross the bridge. We will not disappoint Nigerians.”
Zoning committee has concluded its work, chairmanship remains in South – Sources
Meanwhile, contrary to speculations in the media that the zoning committee, which met in Enugu, last Thursday, did not conclude its deliberations, an insider told Vanguard, yesterday that the committee actually concluded and agreed to zone the chairmanship of the party to the South and retain all the NWC positions in the geo-political zones that they presently are.
According to an insider, the Committee only decided that before the announcement of the recommendations of the committee to the public, members should go and brief their respective governors in states where PDP has governors.
”Members are simply to brief the governors and not for the purpose of the governors interfering in the decision or changing the decision. It is simply out of respect for the governors.”
”Therefore the decision to be announced in Abuja on Wednesday will not be different from what was agreed on in Enugu.”
Vanguard gathered that it is on the strength of the briefing to the governors that Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, has been moving round his colleagues to persuade them to support the zoning of the chairmanship to the South and particularly, the South-West.
On Sunday, he was in Port Harcourt and Uyo to see Governor Nyesom Wike and Emmanuel Udom. He was in Asaba and Benin, yesterday to see Governors Ifeanyi Okowa and Godwin Obaseki.