Barely one week to the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scheduled for Saturday, the issue of which area among the three zones in the southern part of the country will get national chairmanship slot has created divisions among party stakeholders from the North.
While some of the leaders are supporting micro zoning of the chairmanship seat to the South-west, others are stoutly resisting it, saying that the North should not take part in enforcing micro zoning of offices in the South where there is no agreement.
The meeting of the PDP Northern Elders and Leaders Forum held at the Ajuji Hotel, Abuja from November 30 to the early hours of Friday, ended in a stalemate with some of the stakeholders rejecting the resolutions.
The meeting attended by notable elders and leaders of the party from all the states in the northern region, including former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu and Prof. Jerry Gana, was meant to consider the forthcoming national convention.
One of the controversial resolutions contained in the communique jointly signed by the former Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau and former Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Hon. Margaret Icheen, urged the northern delegates to vote for only chairmanship aspirants from the South-west geo-political zone in the forthcoming national convention.
The communique read: “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 forthcoming 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.
“As we head to the national convention, the forum showed keen interest on the position of the national chairman. After extensive deliberations, it was resolved that in the spirit of fairness, equity, carrying every part of the country along, giving every geo-political zone a sense of participation and inclusion in the affairs of the PDP, we strongly support the quest of the South-west geo-political zone to produce the next national chairman of the party.
“The forum directed the geo-political zones to put in place mechanisms to reconcile those that are aggrieved as a result of the micro-zoning in their zone.
“The forum re-emphasised that, rebuilding the confidence of Nigerians on the PDP as we move towards 2019 remain paramount. Therefore, whatever decision that is to be taking should be in tandem with this”.
The forum said it 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.
However, a PDP Northern youth group has rejected the communiqué, describing the decision to railroad all northern delegates into voting for the South-west candidates as obnoxious.
Addressing journalists last Friday, the leader of the group and son of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Sani Kutigi, accused most leaders of the elders forum of bias in favour of one of the chairmanship candidate.
He said: “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 party to 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.”
He said the group lacks any authority or voice to speak on behalf of the North as a homogeneous entity and is therefore on its own.
While rejecting micro-zoning, Kutigi said the group believed in the sanctity of the larger, more inclusive arrangement which gave Southern Nigeria the position of national chairman of the PDP.
“Their action is hereby rejected and totally condemned. Majority of members from the North dissociate themselves from this misadventure which portends unintended consequences if left unchallenged. It is a slap on the face and an insult on the face of Southern Nigerian politicians/leaders that few members from the North can sit down and determine who to elect.
“Party members from the North pledge to support only a free and fair process where a new national chairman will emerge regardless of which place he comes, so long as he is from any of the states that make up Southern Nigeria.
“This decision is to forestall a situation where the action under scrutiny is used to deny certain section a shot at the offices as currently zoned through a dubious and undemocratic means of micro-zoning.
“Finally, if the party must reinvent itself as the true vanguard of democracy in Nigeria, it should not allow certain elements to hijack and abuse due process in the up coming national convention as this will only amount to going back to an inglorious past that we’ll rather forget,” he said.