Apparently yielding to pressure and paying attention to the mood of the nation, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National zoning committee, on Thursday, made a u-turn on the zoning of offices of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party and moved the chairmanship seat to the northern region.
From the outcome of the committee meeting, it has also been decided that all the current NWC members of the party would lose their seats in view of the decision, even though the resolutions are still subject to the approval of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party.
A major twist to this development, however, is that it has not affected the presidential aspirations of northerners in the party like former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, as the ticket, by implications, has not be thrown open.
The committee had last Thursday zoned the office of the National Chairman to South, where 32 members spoke in favour of retaining the national chairman to the south, while 25 members spoke in favour of the national chairman to the north.
The meeting adjourned till Thursday this week, where the issue was revisited.
First, at a Wednesday meeting, the PDP governors voted 8 to 4 members to zone the office of the National Chairman to the north.
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.
“That zoning of offices on PDP has traditionally been between the North and South of Nigeria.
“The decision of the PDP Zoning Committee is in line with the Constitution of the party on zoning and rotation of party and national offices in the interest of justice, equity and fairness.
“Consequently, the current offices being held by officers in the Southern zones of the country, namely, South West, South East and South South zones, should swap places with the offices currently in the northern zones of Nigeria, namely, North West, North East and North Central zones.
“We want to thank the party, especially the National Executive Committee that set up this Committee on September 9, 2021 for finding us worthy to serve the party in the capacity as zoning committee members.
“We shall pass on our recommendations to the National Executive Committee of the Party through the National Working Committee of the party.”
Ugwuanyi signed the communique as chairman, while Ortom signed as Deputy Chairman. The deputy governor of Zamfara State, Mahdi Aliyu Mohammed, signed as secretary of the committee.
In the same manner, office of the national treasurer of PDP has been taken to the north as well as that of the National Youth Leader.
Also, by implications, the office of the National Publicity Secretary, would be in the south, while the office of national organising secretary held by Col Austin Akobundu would be taken north. The office of the national secretary held by Senator Umaru Tsuari has been sent to the south, while the national woman leader was zoned to the south. The next national legal adviser is going to be northerner.
The zoning as announced was a clean sweep of all incumbent members of the PDP NWC.
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.
The source, therefore, said 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.
Chuks Okocha in Abuja