FRESH facts emerged yesterday that intrigues and horse-trading accounted for the Peoples Democratic Party’s delay in arriving at a zoning formula for its National Convention.
The Nation investigation revealed that permutations over the 2023 elections have overwhelmed the party’s ongoing consideration of zoning of offices.
It was gathered that some serial presidential aspirants from the North, including ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, ex-President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and ex-Governor Sule Lamido are pushing for the retention of the 2017 formula which will see the South occupying the National Chairman’s seat.
The offices to be filled at the convention scheduled for October 30 include the National Chairman, Deputy National Chairman (North), Deputy National Chairman (South); National Secretary; Deputy National Secretary; National Financial Secretary; National Organising Secretary; National Treasurer; National Auditor; National Legal Adviser; National Publicity Secretary; National Youth Leader and National Women Leader.
There were also indications yesterday that the Southwest zone is being considered for the chairmanship of the party with a former governor from the zone who has long indicated interest in the race being favoured among other contestants.
A session of the Zoning Committee of the party, headed by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, in Enugu on Thursday was inconclusive.
Some PDP leaders from the North met on Tuesday and agreed on a zoning formula that would lead to the retention of the 2017 power sharing format.
But the proposals from the affected Northern leaders have led to intrigues and divergent opinions among PDP governors and party bigwigs.
It was gathered that while some party leaders are demanding that all offices be thrown open without recourse to zoning, some foundation members, some governors from the North and the South, including Nyesom Wike, are insisting on strict adherence to the rotation of party offices in anticipation of power shift to the South in 2023.
Some party leaders, especially members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the PDP, are however worried that there are no presidential aspirants from the Southwest, the Southeast and the South-south with enough clout to win the presidential poll in 2023.
The governors and party leaders in question claimed that it has been difficult to get a presidential aspirant who can attract mass followership from the North and the South like the late Chief M.K.O Abiola and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo ahead of the 2023 election.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The truth is that calculations over the chances of PDP in 2023 are delaying the zoning of party offices. There are many intrigues on zoning because the shape of the party offices will define the presidential slot of the party.
“Forget the assuaging comments of the Chairman of the Zoning Committee, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, that his panel has no mandate to decide on zoning of President and Vice President tickets. Zoning of party offices determines the presidential and vice presidential slots.
“So, for those interested in contesting the presidential ticket of the party in 2023, the zoning of offices is crucial to their ambition. But they are engaging in what I may call proxy war or lobbying.
“Once the National Chairman emerges from North or South, the presidential candidate of the party will alternate accordingly. So, the zoning formula can make or mar the ambition of any presidential aspirant.”
The source said there were suspicions that some of the Northern PDP leaders who met on Tuesday night in Abuja were working for Atiku, Saraki, Tambuwal, Lamido and other Northern presidential aspirants, who he said made a strong case for the party’s retention of its 2017 zoning formula.
He added: “Although all the aspirants have kept quiet on the zoning formula, all their strategists and loyalists are neck-deep in zoning politics. The roll call at the session was instructive.
“Some of those at the meeting were Dr. Iyorchia Ayu; a former Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Inna Ciroma; ex-governors Attahiru Bafarawa, Babangida Aliyu, Sule Lamido and Boni Haruna; a former National Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje; a former Minister of Special Duties Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (SAN) and Hon. Theophillus Dakkas Shan.
“Others included Senator Zainab Kure; Senator Joel Danlami Ikenya; Dr. Akilu Indabawa; Hon. Galadima Abba; Hon. Mukhtar Ahmed; Hajiya Hauwa Musa Kida; Hon. Manu Swa; Mrs. Launrentia Mallam and Dr. Aminu Abdullahi, among others.
“The game is so overwhelming that the Zoning Committee is managing it with care to avoid anything that could erode the unity of the party.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “The Northern PDP leaders were of the opinion that there are no strong presidential aspirants in the South that could earn a broad-based North-South support for PDP to defeat the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2023.
“The permutation is that the APC ought to be beaten to its 12 million votes in the North.”