…Why Ikpeazu, Okowa shunned meeting
…We must be cautious of possible litigations —NEC member
By Dirisu Yakubu
The move to prevent the emergence of Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola, a former governor of Osun State, as National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was actualised in Enugu, two weeks ago, Sunday Vanguard has learnt.
A fortnight ago at the maiden meeting of the zoning committee chaired by Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, no fewer than eight out of the thirteen governors elected on the platform of the party presented their positions, largely by proxy.
Rivers State governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, who was initially pushing the aspiration of Oyinlola but shifted base in support of Dan Orbih, was joined by four pro-Oyinlola governors. Two South-South governors promised to stand by suspended National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, but told the latter, however, that their support was premised on the zoning committee retaining the National Working Committee, NWC offices in their current zones. This was the position when the Ugwuanyi-led committee adjourned after its first meeting in Enugu.
A few days later, events took new turn as Wike, backed by no less than five of his colleagues, began to question the rationale in keeping faith with the status quo; a development that polarized the governors’ fold at their Abuja meeting last week.
Former Ekiti State governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose also had a sizeable support base particularly in the South-West. He waited anxiously for the committee to take a decision and was disappointed with the outcome of the meeting. Fayose, who was physically present at the Fraiser Suites, Abuja, venue of the zoning committee’s meeting last week, dashed out of the hotel without addressing the media.
Worried by this sudden twist, Governors Ifeanyi Okowa and Okezie Ikpeazu of Delta and Abia states respectively, failed to turn up for the PDP Governors’ Forum meeting where the decision to swap the NWC offices between the North and South was taken.
An official of the forum confided in Sunday Vanguard, saying, “Okowa and Ikpeazu did not attend the meeting. They did not send representatives too. I think they were just tired of how the whole thing was going, the back and forth twist, you know. But I believe they are satisfied with the conclusion reached on the matter as announced by the zoning committee.”
A middle ground was reached when eight out of the eleven governors present at the meeting voted for the swapping of the offices between the North and South.
Sunday Vanguard reports that even though the North is now fated to produce the National Chairman of the party at the end of this month; this has not ruled out the possibility of PDP fielding a presidential candidate of northern extraction in 2023.
The main opposition party might have sold a dummy to the All Progressives Congress, APC, with the announcement of the zoning of its offices, as insinuations are now rife that the party may be left with no option but to zone the presidency to the South.
In line with Article 3 (c) of the PDP Constitution which provides for the adherence “to the policy of the rotation and zoning of party and public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness,” the party may prevail on whoever emerges as its new chairman to step down if it is bent on fielding a northern presidential candidate.
Sharing his thought on the matter, a member of the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the PDP, has warned the party to be careful of “imminent litigations” in the event of trying to force a northern Chairman out to pave way for northerner to run for the presidency on the platform of the PDP.
“The Constitution would first have to be amended for this to happen. I think the best option is to have a Northern chairman and a Southern Presidential flag bearer. If you have a chairman in the next few weeks and you want him to resign to pave way for a Presidential candidate from from the North; even if he agrees, there will be problem,” he said.
The fears of the PDP chieftain are not unconnected with the provision of Article 45 (2) of the PDP Constitution which provides that in the event of the removal of the National Chairman, “the Deputy National Chairman from his own region/part of the country will act as the National Chairman pending the election of a replacement.”
The decision of the zoning committee reached last week in Abuja will be taken to NEC for ratification on Wednesday.