The zoning of the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2023 presidential election has divided the governors and National Assembly members elected on the platform of the main opposition party, THISDAY has learnt.
This is coming as the All Progressives Congress (APC) has commenced the process of vacating an order of the FCT High Court issued on November 18, 2021, restraining the ruling party from holding its national convention.
THISDAY gathered that despite the popular clamour for power to shift to the South, some PDP governors and federal lawmakers have queued behind some northern presidential aspirants, who have refused to back down.
Many of the governors and National Assembly members have however insisted on the implementation of the resolution of the 17 southern governors for the presidential ticket of the party to be zoned to the South.
The PDP, it was learnt, is in a big dilemma over the report headed by the Governor of Bauchi State, Senator Bala Mohammed over how the presidential candidate will emerge as the northern presidential aspirants are not backing down.
While the APC has taken a bold step towards the emergence of its presidential candidate from the South, there is confusion in the PDP over the fate of the Governor Mohammed-led committee that reviewed the 2019 general election, that threw the emergence of the presidential ticket of the party to all the zones of the federation.
As the clamour for the emergence of the next president from the South gathers momentum, some PDP members in the House of Representatives hosted former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to a meeting, where they openly endorsed Atiku, underscoring the division within the main opposition party.
The meeting was attended by almost all PDP members in the House of Representatives, who eulogised Atiku in their separate remarks, insisting that he was the only aspirant that can salvage the country and address the security situation.
One of the federal lawmakers from Osun State, Hon. Wole Oke, moved a motion that his colleagues should adopt Atiku as the presidential aspirant irrespective of the clamour for power shift to the South
After the unanimous adoption of the motion by Oke, THISDAY spoke to some of the federal lawmakers on why they would be singing a different tune from their governors from the South.
Some of them told THISDAY that their governors were aware of their meeting with Atiku.
According to one of the lawmakers from the South-east, “the two governors of the PDP in the South-east are aware of today’s meeting. We cannot be doing anything outside their knowledge. They know what we are doing.
“Let me tell you, I cannot do anything without the consent of my governor. Some of the governors are playing politics with power shifts. They lobby secretly to be the vice-presidential candidate of a northern candidate,” one of the lawmakers said.
Another lawmaker from the South-south said that his Governor was also aware of the meeting where they adopted Atiku.
He said: “My brother, I am in the same political camp with my governor and we are conscious of what we are doing.
“Yes, power shift to the South is ideal, but who do we adopt from the South-east. Power is never given and therefore, you must fight for it. Who in the South-East is doing that. Former governor Peter Obi said that he will contest when the PDP zones the office to the South-east.
“So far, only the former Secretary to the Government of Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, and Mr. Sam Ohuabunwa have openly declared for the office of the president.
“Only the former senate president, Anyim is raising his voice to become the presidential candidate. Where are the others? Do they have the financial strength to meet any of the aspirants from the APC?” he queried.
THISDAY, however, gathered that South-south governors and a South-west governor are the arrowheads of the PDP governors clamouring for power shift to the South.
When the Governor Bala Mohammed-led committee recommended that the ticket should be thrown open to all the geopolitical zones, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party led by the former National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus had promised to set up a technical committee to review the report, which the party never did.
The party’s promise to review the report followed the agitation that the ticket should be given to a southern candidate.
The new members of the party’s NWC led by Senator Iyorchia Ayu are also silent over the Mohammed committee’s report as if it does not exist.
A member of the House of Representatives told THISDAY that the division caused by the zoning issue was getting out of hand.
He said the new guidelines and timetable released by INEC, which stipulate that presidential candidates of political parties must emerge between April and June this year has compounded the confusion in the PDP.
“This is March and Easter is fast approaching. When is the party going to discuss Bala Mohammed’s report?
“If the party is serious with power shift, the Bala Mohammed’s report should be brought to the fore burner for discussion,” he said.
He said the zoning of the presidency has polarised the PDP governors and federal lawmakers because of their political interests.
APC Moves to Vacate Restraining Order against National Convention Before
Meanwhile, APC has commenced the process of vacating an order of the FCT High Court restraining it from holding its national convention.
An FCT High Court presided by Justice Bello Kawu had on November 18, 2021, issued an order restraining the party from holding its national convention.
The court ordered that the APC and the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee can only conduct the convention after the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
The suit, which joined APC and the Buni-led CECPC as defendants, was filed by Hon. Salisu Umoru, a member of the APC.
A source within the Convention Committee, told THISDAY yesterday that: “We are aware of the court order. It came to our notice last week. Efforts are being made to vacate the order between now and the convention date (March 26).
“We are a law-abiding party. Since it is a court order, we will vacate it,” the source said. (THISDAY)