……..As South-West members protest to attempt to anoint South-South candidate
A special meeting of select stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), held in Abuja, on Wednesday night, to deliberate on how to avoid a rancorous national convention in December ended in a stalemate.
The deadlock was as a result of alleged attempts by some stakeholders to give the national chairmanship position to the South-South through flimsy excuses.
The move, it was gathered, was resisted by members from the South-West, who rejected it and made it clear that it was one assault too many and an insult on the people of the zone.
The meeting was attended by some former governors, serving governors, members of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and elders of the party.
According to reliable sources, trouble began when some stakeholders, in a bid to build a case for their attempt to anoint a South-South candidate, who is a former member of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), drew attention to some cases filed against the party by some members in the South-West zone, adding that it showed that the zone was not settled.
In what came as a shock, the members who raised the issue went further to suggest that it would be better to let the South-South produce the national chairman of the party.
Tempers allegedly rose when it became apparent from their arguments that it was a premeditated move which was carefully planned long before the meeting.
It was gathered that attendees from the South-West unanimously stood their ground that it was the turn of the zone to produce the chairman as the only zone that had never produced an occupant of the post in the power rotation policy of the party in its 19 years of its existence.
It was further gathered that those who attended the meeting from the South-West pointed out that the move to deny the zone the chairmanship post was another instance of consistent marginalisation the zone had suffered from 2011 till date.
They were said to have argued that the electorate in the zone were disaffected with PDP as a result of such ill-treatment and disregard for their feelings and that their hearts and votes could only be won back with assurances of a sense of belonging, such as giving the zone the place it deserved in the party’s scheme of things.
It was also learned that they argued that litigations in the party were not limited to the South-West, as the party had cases involving aggrieved members in various parts of the country.
They said filing case in court was a legitimate and acceptable way of tabling grievances for resolution and settlement under the rule of law in a democracy.
The meeting was said to have later adjourned for more and wider consultations.
This is the first time in the history of PDP that the chairmanship election would attract inter-zonal competition.
Wednesday’s meeting came after weeks of apprehension and anxiety over the likelihood of a rancorous convention in December, because of the looming showdown between the South-South and the South-West zones over the position.
Many party stakeholders believed that the South-West zone should naturally have been allowed to produce the next party chairman without having to struggle with other zones for it, based on precedents in the party.
South-West leaders of the party had said in a statement some weeks ago that the chairmanship was actually micro-zoned to the zone at a meeting of southern leaders in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, sometime last year without any disagreement.
There had been speculations that the party’s established policy on election of national, zonal and state officers, which involved zoning and micro-zoning to balance interests, might be compromised when the current chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, who is midwifing the December election, declared that micro-zoning of positions was no longer binding.
He was, however, reported recently to have shifted a little ground, saying that the issue was beyond his national caretaker committee but within the powers of the National Executive Committee (NEC) to revisit.
Sources within the party, however, alleged that the move by the South-South zone to take the chairmanship position was part of a grand plan involving a prominent presidential aspirant from the North, who had been assured of support to prosecute his election bid.
The alleged plan was also said to involve a prominent state executive in the South-West who was allegedly being positioned for the vice presidential slot expected to be offered to placate the South-West to the bargain.