GOVERNORS elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party on Thursday insisted that the national chairmanship of the party should go to the North.
This position held sway as the National Executive Committee of the PDP adopted the report of the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi-led PDP zoning committee, at its 94th NEC meeting, in Abuja, on Thursday.
The Ugwanyi committee had recommended that all party positions hitherto held by southerners should be swapped with those currently being held by northerners.
The committee in its report recommended among others that, “The current offices being held by officers in the southern zones of the country, namely, South-West, South-East and South-South zones, should swap places with the offices currently in the northern zones of Nigeria, namely, North-West, North-East and North-Central zones.”
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, who announced the decision of NEC, while speaking to the media after the meeting said, “NEC adopted the report of the Ifeanyi Ugwanyi’s Committee on the Zoning of offices of the National Working Committee.”
Asked whether the issue of zoning of the 2023 presidential ticket was discussed and what decision was arrived at, he said, “The issue of the Governor Bala Mohammed Committee came up and it was resolved that it should be deferred till another NEC meeting. Today’s meeting was to consider the Ugwuanyi committee report and that was what he did.”
The Governor Bala Mohammed-led Committee on the review of the 2019 general elections recommended that the contest for the presidential ticket of the party should be thrown open to all eligible party members.
It was gathered that ahead of the Thursday’s meeting, the governors first held a meeting at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, late on Wednesday and later converged on the Rivers State Governors’ Lodge, in the early hours of Thursday.
A source privy to the meetings, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said, “The governors simply came together and agreed that it was in their interest to present a common front. It was then agreed that the issue of zoning with regard to the 2023 presidential ticket as well as other elective offices should be deferred till another date to reduce tension and allow the party focus on the NWC (National Working Committee) offices and the National Convention.
“The governors reached out to party leaders across the zones, especially in the north, that the decision to zone the position of national chairman does not have an effect on executive positions such as the Presidency and National Assembly positions.”
Let Nigerians decide who will govern them – Atiku
In his opening remarks during the NEC meeting earlier, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar appealed to party leaders to jettison zoning of the presidential ticket just as he appealed to them to uphold justice and fairness.
He said, “Where the President comes from has never been the problem of Nigeria neither will it be the solution. There is no such thing as a president from southern Nigeria, or a president from northern Nigeria. There is only one, a president from Nigeria, for Nigeria and for Nigerians.
“The Peoples Democratic Party has the right to determine its rules on how the party should be governed, the people of Nigeria have the right to determine who governs them.
“Those of us who served in the constitutional conference, which drafted the current constitution of Nigeria should remember that after we finished drafting the constitution, we all met as members of the constitutional conference and resolved to correct the injustice that was done to a particular part of this country.
“And we said, in whichever party you found yourself, your presidential candidate must come from the southwest, because Abiola had won the election, it was annulled. Not only was his election annulled, he was killed.”
He equally recalled how he rejected a plot by the party’s governors to deny the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo a second term.
Atiku said, “Distinguished members of NEC, in 2003, all the PDP governors met at the villa and said they were not going to support President Obasanjo for a second term, that I should run.
“I now referred them to the resolution of NEC, where NEC decided that power should remain in the South-West for eight years. How do you now want me to go against the resolution of NEC? And I turn it down. And we moved on.
“So, this country has a sense of fairness. This country has a sense of justice. This country has a sense of fairness. Therefore, this thing that is inbuilt in our party, we should be able to use it, to imbibe it to make sure today’s deliberations are in the best interest of our party.”
In his address of welcome the Acting National Chairman of the party, Yemi Akinwonmi, said, “Today is a day of making history in the life and survival of the party” adding that Nigerians were eagerly waiting for PDP to take them out of the challenges of socio-political vices created by the political party in power, the APC.”
The Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal who also spoke in a similar vein, promised that he and his colleagues would continue to support the party in its effort to rescue Nigeria.
A group of peaceful protesters had earlier gathered at the entrance of the party Secretariat to protest. They held up placards some of which read: “What did the North do to the PDP? “Stop cheating the North”, “Wike brought Sheriff? Wike brought Secondus” “PDP, give North their rights”, and” Two years of North vs 13 years of South “
The media office of the suspended National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus released a statement shortly after the NEC meeting. The statement titled, “The blackmail mission to hijack and destroy PDP….And why Secondus is in Court,” was signed by his Media Adviser, Ike Abonyi. It read in part, “What is Secondus’ real offence? He blatantly refused to be swayed by individual ambition of a Governor that wants him to be a good boy by circumventing the rules of the party.”