Southern Governors Forum (SGF)
Party may experience rowdiness at today’s NEC meeting
Barely one week after Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) announced its zoning formula ahead of its October 30 national convention to elect members of its National Working Committee (NWC), fresh facts have linked the decision of its zoning committee to the agitations by Southern governors to push the presidency to the South in 2023.
The Zoning Committee of the party, led by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, last week ended weeks of speculations when it zoned PDP chairmanship to the North, despite serious political pressure within the party to allow it to remain in south.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party will today meet in Abuja to consider the report of the zoning committee.
It was learnt that the agitation for Southern Presidency was a key motive that made some Southern governors in PDP to oppose the earlier move to retain the chairmanship of the party in the South.
At the meeting of the PDP governors last week Wednesday, it was learnt that Governors Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Nyesome Wike of Rivers led the political move that resulted in the change of the NWC positions between the North and south.
That development ensured that key positions like the National Chairman, Deputy National Chairman, the National Secretary and National Legal Adviser would swap positions between the two regions.
It was gathered that Makinde and other PDP governors from the South have been accused of paying lip service to the resolutions of the Southern Governors’ Forum, which ratified the call for the South to produce the next Nigerian President in 2023.
The two governors, according to the source were aware of allegations of working against the interest of Southern Nigeria by seeking to align as a running mate to a Northern candidate in the 2023 election.
A source said: “When the meeting started, Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State opened discussions and stated that there were three options opened to them.
“The options include whether to retain the current executive; swap the positions between North and South or sack existing executive and throw all positions open.
Governor Makinde, who was said to have spoken next was said to have declared that he would prefer the second option, which would be to swap the positions between the North and South.
“An argument then ensued between Makinde and Ishaku as Ishaku questioned why Oyo State governor didn’t opt for another option, rather than option two.
“Makinde replied sharply that the Taraba helmsman should say what favours him and that he, Makinde has spoken the minds of his own people.”
Sources also said that Akwa-Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel his, Edo State counterpart, Godwin Obaseki and Wike later spoke in support of the swapping of positions.
Another source close to the governors said that many Southern Governors were touched by insinuations that the demand for Southern Presidency was a huge joke.
Makinde had been reported to be working to attract the national chairmanship of the PDP to Southwest; a development many interpreted would have ruled the South out of the 2023 presidential race.
A top party leader, who met with Makinde a day after the meeting of the Governors, said that the Oyo State governor had to spearhead the push for a swap of the party’s positions to put a lie to the insinuations that he was working against Southern interest.
The source said: “I can confirm to you that Makinde and his Southern colleagues were not unmindful of that unusual appellation some people were wrongly pinning on them that they might be working against Southern interest. So he spearheaded the push. In fact, the governors went to that meeting determined to correct the wrong impressions and everything went well.”
On the contrary, the Secretary of the Zoning Committee and Deputy Governor of Zamfara State, Mr. Mahdi Aliyu Gusau has continued to explain that the zoning of offices in the party had nothing to do with zoning of presidency to any part of the country ahead of the 2023 elections.
Specifically, he debunked speculations that the Presidential ambition of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State; former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Dr Olusola Saraki or any other Presidential hopeful from the North had been foreclosed.
“After our meeting, some mischief makers started spreading false stories that our committee has zoned the Presidency to the South.
“This is not true. Our committee was mandated to decide on those that would seek party positions. This does not include those who want to seek the positions of president, vice president, governors, and the like.
“Ab initio, it was made clear that our committee does not have the mandate on any other matter regarding zoning or otherwise, except that which regards the party at the federal level.”
But within the party’s leadership, there is a growing disappointment and uprising against its 13 state governors for spearheading the swapping offices currently held by persons from the South with those from the North.
This came to light at the weekend just as the details emerged on which zone would produce each of the next 19 member-National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
It was learnt the North Central geopolitical zone will produce the National chairman of the party. The zone will also get the position of National Treasurer and National Legal adviser.
In the current arrangement, the North Central holds the positions of National Finance Secretary and National Publicity Secretary.
According to a source within the Secretariat of the party, the South West will produce the next National Publicity Secretary. The zone currently holds the positions of National Treasurer, and National Deputy Chairman (South).
The South also is currently holding the positions of the National chairman, and Legal Adviser while the South holds National Organising Secretary, and National Youth leader positions.
In the North, the positions of Deputy National Chairman (North), National Woman Leader, and National Auditor are being occupied by members from North East while the North West is currently holding the position of National Secretary
Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike
On the tension generated by the new zoning formula, the caucus of the party in the National Assembly; the Forum of former governors as well as many other prominent leaders in the North are unhappy about what some called the arbitrary decision of the governors that was imposed on the zoning committee.
The Committee’s position was a total endorsement of an earlier decision at a meeting of the Governors on Wednesday night.
Some aggrieved members have equally threatened to protest against the zoning formula in the 94th meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), which will hold today at PDP’s secretariat in Abuja.
A member of the party’s NEC accused the Governors of using the zoning committee to hatch their earlier plan to prevent serving members of the NWC from seeking re-election in the October 30 convention.
Citing section 47(1) of the Constitution of the PDP, he disclosed that should NEC endorse the zoning formula as proposed by the Ugwuanyi committee, it may prepare grounds for fresh litigation that may affect holding of the convention.
Section 47(1) of the PDP constitution reads: “All National, Zonal, State, Local Government Area and Ward Officers of the party shall hold office for a term of four years and shall be eligible for re-election for another term and no more.”
According to him, the PDP is a party that respects rule of law, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as its own Constitution. What the governors are trying to do is a serious breach of PDP’s Constitution, which guarantees the right to seek re-election for every serving member of the NWC. They raised this at one of the meetings of NEC but was seriously opposed and defeated,” a NEC member declared.
“By suggesting that NWC positions currently held by persons from the North be swapped for positions in the South, they have automatically prevented all serving NWC members from seeking re-election. For instance, what if the serving National chairman wants to seek re-election to the same position? What if the serving National Organising Secretary wants to seek re-election to the same position? You will discover that these persons can’t do so because their positions have been taking away from their zones,” he stressed.