By Dirisu Yakubu

Expectations as PDP NEC meeting holds Thursday

Ahead of its October 31st national elective convention, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, will Thursday, hold an emergency National Executive Committee, NEC meeting to ratify the recommendation of its zoning committee reached last week.

With all 13 governors elected on the platform of the party expected at the NEC Hall, venue of the meeting, the main opposition party will receive the report and recommendation of the Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi-led committee on zoning from the National Working Committee, NWC.

It would be recalled that last week, the 45-man committee recommended the swapping of leadership positions such that those currently being held by Southerners would go the way of Northerners and vice versa.

Since then, a number of developments have taken place including the ceding of the national chairmanship position to the North Central and National Publicity Secretary office to the South-West, among others in the next NWC.

Although the Ugwuanyi-led committee merely recommended the swapping of the leadership positions between the North and South, Vanguard learned that the NEC will not stand in the way of any consensus agreement reached by the three geopolitical groupings in the South or North on any position zoned in their favour.

As a result, North Central is fated to produce the next chairman having secured the buy-in of the North-East and the North-West. Although Senator David Mark is seen as favourite for the plum office, he is likely to face opposition from Babangida Aliyu, a former governor of Niger state, who is a late entrant in the race.

Oyinlola’s camp kicks, demands reversal of zoning arrangement

Meanwhile, the camp of former Osun State governor and until recently, a frontline chairmanship aspirant, Olagunsoye Oyinlola is not happy with the zoning arrangement as announced by the Ugwuanyi Committee.

Addressing the media in Abuja, the group made up largely of youths and women had tough words for PDP governors even as they threatened to quit if the issues raised are not addressed.

Spokesperson of the PDP youth groups, Obianuju Ogoko said, “In the wake of the thundering displeasure over the recent overbearing influence of PDP governors by party members, we, the PDP youths and ambassadors of good governance, have taken up the responsibility of speaking to the issues that currently bedevil our party, as it would appear that the expected voices of our elders who should provide a firm direction in times of conflict have grown weary.

“We wish to inform our governors that whilst they have refused to heed all reason and overtures for peace and reconciliation as expected of an indivisible family, we are left with no option than to send this public message, stating categorically that the recent stranglehold on our dear party by governors which is currently in opposition will only spell doom and lead to mass exodus of members who have come to erroneously believe, that PDP has been bequeathed and hijacked by a few governors who do not have regard for political participation of ordinary party members. A party in opposition should spread love and kindness not totalitarianism.

“Whilst our party leaders may not see the raging tornado trotting down our hills, we the young members of the PDP are aware, that the average Nigerian youth will not want to be mobilized into a political party where governors breathe down the neck of members and make all decisions down to who opens the PDP gates at the national secretariat. This is totally undemocratic.

“We specifically request that in the interest of justice, equity and inclusiveness and to ensure that PDP has a remote chance of winning the APC in the forthcoming Presidential election, that PDP’s national chairmanship position be zoned to the South (South-West) and its Presidential ticket should be zoned to the North who have only served four years out of PDP’s 16 years of Presidency.”

In a separate chat with Vanguard, a member of the coalition groups Ogoko spoke for, described the manner the governors moved against Oyinlola as unfortunate.

She said, “Oyinlola had consulted widely. All this while, he thought he had the backing of the governors, some of whom personally encouraged him to stand for the election. All of a sudden, they are saying he cannot contest based on their recommendation. This is unfortunate.

“They (the governors) know that NEC won’t go against their wish but what exactly do they want to achieve? Why should we care where the next President will come from if the goal is to get PDP back in power?

Reminded that the Ugwuanyi Committee’s mandate does not include zoning the Office of the President, she dismissed the argument saying, “With the expected ratification of zoning as recommended, there is only one way to look at this: The North will produce the national chairman and the South will have the Presidential ticket.

“Let us not go into any debate of the possibility of the chairman resigning or stepping down after a few months as some people are saying because even if that happens, Section 45 of the PDP constitution says the deputy national chairman from the zone of the chairman will take over if the chairman is removed or is incapacitated.

“Now, beyond the excitement of having a Southerner as Presidential candidate, can  PDP win the election given that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, will pick its candidate from same zone?” she asked.

Atiku’s Presidential ambition alive ― NWC member

A member of the outgoing National Working Committee told Vanguard in confidence that the 2023 Presidential ambition of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar is “alive” despite the zoning of the national chairmanship office to the North.

According to him, the leadership of the party will be guided by the recommendation of the Bala Mohammed committee on the 2023 Presidential election “when the time comes.”

His words: “Atiku and other Northerners interested in the ticket have nothing to worry about. The PDP does its things its own way and often in the interest of all Nigerians. Recall that when the party set up a committee to review its performance in the 2019 Presidential poll and recommend the way forward, that group of highly respected leaders chaired by the governor of Bauchi state, Senator Bala Mohammed asked that the race be thrown open.

“Atiku is a democrat. Once the race is thrown open, it is his decision to participate again or not. So, I can tell you that ambition is alive. He is not worried at all,” he added.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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