Following the zoning of the position of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the North by the National Convention Zoning Committee (NCZC) of the party led by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, northern elders in the main opposition party have commenced search for a suitable candidate to fill the position, THISDAY has learnt.
THISDAY gathered that in their latest permutation, the northern elders have zeroed in on a former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark; a former Governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema, and a former Governor of Jigawa State, Mr. Sule Lamido for the position of the party’s national chairman.
The intrigues have however deepened as the loyalists of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and a former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki have intensified moves to use the Appeal Court to return the embattled National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, and truncate the bid for a southern presidency in 2023.
The party has, however, summoned an emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting for Thursday, October 7, to consider the report of the Ugwuanyi-led zoning committee.
Investigation revealed that the North-central, where Mark hails from is highly favoured by the majority of the northern elders in the party for the chairmanship position.
These elders, it was learnt, want the North-west where Shema and Lamido hail from to produce the vice-presidential candidate to a possible southern presidential candidate in the 2023 general election.
While Shema’s chairmanship bid is said to be backed by some of the governors, Lamido is believed to be backed by the loyalists of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Mark is said to be supported by the loyalists of former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd); a former National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Aliyu Gusau, and some other elders.
One of the northern elders privy to the intrigues told THISDAY last night that zoning the party’s chairmanship position to the North-central would ensure the emergence of the vice-presidential candidate from the North-west.
“Northern elders in the party want the chairmanship zoned to the North-central to enable a vice presidential candidate to a southern presidential candidate come from the North-west, given the power bloc.
“To that extent, some are looking at David Mark and or Ibrahim Shema. Sule Lamido is also being considered. But most of the elders are saying that if Shema or Lamido runs, it could stop the North-west from bringing the vice presidential candidate to a southern presidential candidate because the southern governors in the party are determined that the presidency should go to the South, in line with the resolutions of the Southern Governors’ Forum, and they are looking at one of their own as a candidate, despite all the blackmail,” the source explained.
However, the source added that the loyalists of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki are moving to use the court to return Secondus.
“If they return Secondus, they can take control of the party, and retain the presidency in the North in 2023,” the source added.
Meanwhile, the PDP has summoned an emergency NEC meeting for Thursday, October 7, at its national headquarters, to consider the report of the zoning of the offices of the NWC.
According to a statement issued yesterday by the National Secretary of the party, Senator Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri, all members of the National Executive Committee are invited to the emergency NEC meeting.
Ejiofor Alike in Lagos and Chuks Okocha in Abuja