The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may pick its presidential candidate for the 2023 elections from the northern part of the country as stakeholders are set to zone the chairmanship position of the party to the South.
During its 92nd National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting at the weekend, the party had announced that it will arrive at a zoning formula for the National Working Committee (NWC) at a meeting billed for September 9.
This comes as the struggle for control and power sharing arrangements intensify among the political gladiators ahead of the party’s national convention slated for October 30 and 31.
The process for the election of new NWC members continues despite the raging crisis in the party which has sparked several litigations and court injunctions.
The embattled National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, who was elected in December 2017 for an initial period of four years, but recently suspended by a court, has insisted that his tenure will elapse in December 2021.
But top party sources have said that the October 31 elective convention date is sacrosanct and would throw up a new crop of NWC.
It is also expected to ratify the zoning of 2023 political offices.
Though Nigerians have mixed views about zoning of key political positions, the arrangement is, however, entrenched by the PDP, to allow for all parts of the country to taste key offices.
A founding member of the PDP, former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido had, in a recent interview explained that zoning arrangement was conceived to heal past wounds and assure all parts of the country, advising that the mood should be reviewed in deciding whether to maintain or jettison the zoning arrangement.
Already some bigwigs in the party have commenced scheming in their bid to influence the emergence of their preferred persons as new leaders of the party.
Scores of PDP stalwarts are already positioning to contest various offices, especially the chairmanship and presidential slots.
Those yet to publicly declare their intention but believe to be warming up for the party’s presidential ticket are; former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar; former Governors of Jigawa and Kano States, Sule Lamido and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, among others.
Party’s top-shots gunning for the presidency are working hard to identify persons they will support to clinch the party’s NWC positions.
For the chairmanship, a former military Governor of Ondo State, Olabode George; the embattled National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus; former PDP candidate for Ondo State governorship election, Eyitayo Jegede; Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Suleiman Nazif; former Governor of Osun State, Ọlagunsoye Oyinlọla; former Kaduna State governor and one time interim chairman of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi; Jimi Agbaje, governorship candidate in Lagos; former governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo and former South-West National Vice Chairman, Dr Eddy Olafeso, are eyeing the seat.
Support for the chairmanship candidates is said to be informed by zoning configurations in the party with contenders from the North supporting southern aspirants for the party leadership while those with ambition in the South are pushing for the chairmanship to be zoned to the North-West.
The wind is presently in favour of the emergence of the chairman of the party from the South-West zone, while the presidency is zoned to the North.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the ongoing horse-trading told our reporters that those advocating for ceding the presidential ticket to the North may seem to have an upper hand, as the argument for the need to woo the massive votes from the North gain currency among the ranks of the party.
Two top chieftains of the party disclosed that a widely popular proposal is for a northerner to be paired with someone from the South-East or South-South.
“Already a lot of them are jostling for the vice-presidential slot at our own end,” a source close to Atiku said.
Informed sources said former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who tore his PDP membership card in 2015, in a dramatic style to announce his exit from the party, is pushing for Oyinlola to emerge the next party chairman.
Though Obasanjo’s has not announced his rejoining the PDP, party leaders still defer to him, with many of them, including embattled Secondus, visiting him at different times.
“Though many party leaders have no problem with Oyinlola, some of them are expressing fears that the man may at the end be answerable to the former president.
Atiku, on his part, is said to be supporting the emergence of Jegede, one of his lawyers, for the position. Jegede, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), only recently lost his Ondo governorship bid at the Supreme Court after he had earlier lost at the polls.
A source close to Governor Tambuwal, said the Sokoto governor is working for the emergence of a Southerner as the party chairman to pave way for his aspiration.
“If, as some chieftains are proposing, the chairman comes from the North-West, it means Oga’s ambition will be in jeopardy, and you know he would not let that happen after he has suffered for a long time,” the source said.
The politics of where the chairman of the party comes from is said to be responsible for the crack in the otherwise cordial relationship between Tambuwal and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State. The intrigues led to recent support expressed by Tambuwal for Secondus, in spite of Wike’s opposition to his fellow Rivers man.