In a volte-face, seen to assuage agitations for a president of southern Nigerian extraction in 2023, the National Zoning Committee of People’s Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, announced the zoning of the office of party national chairman to the north.
Subject to the approval of the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the PDP, all the current NWC members of the party would lose their seats in view of the decision.
Being that this is suggestive of the party zoning the contests for the office of Nigeria’s president to the south, political observers wonder how this decision will affect the presidential aspirations of Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, who happen to be northerners.
At the meeting, which took place at the Akwa Ibom Governor’s lodge, Abuja, three northern governors — Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Adamu Fintiri (Adamawa) and Darius Ishaku (Taraba) — voted for the chairmanship to be zoned to the south.
But Governor Samuel Ortom (Benue), voted for the chairmanship to be in the north. Tambuwal, who is the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, did not vote, because he presided over the meeting.
Other PDP governors, who voted in favour of northern chairmanship were Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), and Douye Diri (Bayelsa).
The meeting immediately resolved to pass the resolution of the governors to the zoning committee of the national convention.
Reaffirming the decision of the PDP governors, the 48-man national zoning committee headed by the Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, announced the swapping of the offices in the north to the south and offices in the south to the north.
Reading the communique of the meeting, Ugwuanyi said, “At the end of the deliberations of the PDP National Zoning Committee, it was resolved as follows:
“The National Zoning Committee of the PDP was given the mandate to zone National offices to be contested by all PDP Members of the Party at the PDP National Convention of the Party scheduled for October 30/31 2021 by the National Executive Committee of the Party.
“That the mandate of the Committee does not include zoning of the offices of the President, Vice President and other Executive and Legislative offices of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And the decision of the Committee to zone the party offices does not in any way affect the executive and legislative offices in Nigeria.
Another implication of the zoning is that the presidential ambitions of Abubakar Saraki, Tambuwal, the Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed might not have been affected, because according to an insider, what happened at the zoning committee was an indication that the presidential ticket of the party might be thrown open.
A source said that all the northern presidential hopefuls were free to contest at the presidential convention.
He said the zoning committee discussed the report of the Mohammed committee, which threw the presidential ticket open, but decided to play it down till further notice, when it would be appropriate to discuss it.