“Though a couple of southern governors are now being convinced to join the anti zoning push, with offers like the vice presidency and other promises.
Ahead Of 2023 Presidential Election, PDP Governors Split Over Zoning
Ahead of the 2023 presidential election, a fresh crisis is brewing in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over which zone should have its presidential ticket.
Since the party was defeated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 to bring its rule for 16 years to an end, it has been struggling to reclaim the presidency without success.
While the opposition party is in the process of holding an elective national convention to elect its new leaders, there are indications that the issue of zoning is tearing it apart.
For months now, there have been severe agitations as to where the presidential ticket of the party should be zoned to, with leaders and chieftains of the party, particularly from the southern part of the country, insisting that the party’s unwritten zoning arrangement be respected and the 2023 presidential ticket zoned exclusively to the South.
It is believed in many quarters that the zoning controversy is at the bottom of the storm that has been the lot of the suspended national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus.
His alleged tacit support for a presidential aspirant from the north in spite of the clamour for power shift is believed to have won him, several enemies, from his home zone.
However, fresh indications have emerged that anti-zoning forces may have devised new plans to forestall the possibility of the party zoning the presidential ticket to the South.
It was gathered that an ongoing process towards the election of a new national chairman for the party is brewing suspicion and creating a fresh crisis within it.
Very reliable party sources said the high number of southern PDP chieftains indicating interest in the national chairmanship while no northerner is showing interest has become a source of worry for pro-zoning agitators within the PDP.
It was gathered that some prominent leaders and chieftains of the party, including governors, National Assembly members and Board of Trustees (BoT) members from the southern zones have expressed dissatisfaction with what they described as an attempt to scheme the zones out of contention for the presidential ticket.
It was also gathered that governors elected on the platform of the PDP are now divided over the zoning issue.
Some of them are now openly supporting national chairmanship aspirants from the south, others like Governor Seyi Makinde and Udom Emmanuel of Oyo and Akwa Ibom states respectively are warning that the emergence of a southerner in that position may nail any hope of the region getting the presidential ticket.
An ally of the Oyo State governor explained in a chat with our correspondent yesterday that Makinde’s position is based on his understanding of the practice in PDP.
An aide to the governor said: “A look at previous arrangements revealed that the national chairman and the presidential candidate had never emerged from the same region in the past.
“So, our governor, given his commitment to the southern presidency project, is asking his colleagues for a commitment that the chairmanship is not a bait to stop power from shifting to the South in 2023.
“He is not alone in this. There are other governors with him.”
It was however gathered that some other governors have recently proposed that the presidential ticket be thrown open for aspirants from all zones of the country to contest for it. “Their major arguments are that the last president the PDP produced is from the South and it may not be easy to defeat the APC with a presidential candidate from the South So, they have a plan to retain the ticket in the north,” a source claimed.
Finding by our correspondent revealed that the majority of southern governors are opposed to the new plan by their colleagues from the north. “Though a couple of southern governors are now being convinced to join the anti zoning push, with offers like the vice presidency and other promises, the majority is still unrelenting in the quest for the ticket in 2023,” a party source said.
Determined to send the message clearly to their colleagues, PDP governors in the south have joined their APC colleagues to insist that the next president of the country should come from the South in 2023, in spite of indications that many of their colleagues are plotting to keep the ticket in the north.
“At the recent meeting of southern governors, PDP governors sent a very strong signal to their colleagues from the north and others opposed to zoning when they openly supported and signed the communique insisting on power shift. The implications are that PDP governors are now poised for a showdown over the zoning issue,” our source said.
It was also gathered that members of the PDP caucus in the National Assembly are also not on the same page on the zoning issue.
Last week, the Southeast caucus of the PDP NASS met and decided that it will not be part of any arrangement that opposes the zoning of the presidential ticket to the South.
The legislators were responding to alleged moves to give the Southwest the national chairmanship in order to keep the presidential ticket in the north.
“Our position is to put it on record that the chairmanship is not the same as the presidential ticket and that those angling for the seat are not doing so on behalf of the entire south,” our source added.
As the drama continues to unfold, prominent chieftains of the party are urging the gladiators to be careful not to cause an implosion within the party. They have also been expressing fears about the chances of the party in the next general election.
A member of the PDP BoT, while speaking on the current crisis, accused some governors of trying to return the party to its troubled era.
He said: “The plot to give the Southwest the chairmanship so as to block the South from the presidential ticket will fail.
“It is an attempt to destroy the PDP and we must be careful. If PDP wants to win in 2023, we must respect zoning and give the South the ticket.
“I commend the governors that are still standing and I am sure they will prevail.”
Source: The Nation