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Anger In South-East PDP
The ratification by the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) National Working Committee (NWC) zoning of national offices, last week, has reopened the debate on the zoning principle believed, in some quarters, to have been jettisoned by the party.
The party had been silent on the matter, for a while now, after the emergence of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, in June, 2011, in defiance of the party’s policy on zoning.
The PDP had since 2007 zoned the position to the South-West in compliance with the zoning policy , but the hawks in the party had manipulated the arrangement, thereby producing their choice candidate instead of the ‘anointed’ candidate of the party from the South-West, Mrs Mulikat Akande-Adeola. The matter generated a lot of controversy among members of the House and some party executives. The legislators, who braved all odds to push their wish through, got denunciations from the party’s stalwarts. Former president and PDP’s chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who was particularly miffed by the action of members of the party, at some point, decried it, leading to the exchange of vitriols between the two parties. He viewed the development as a flagrant disregard for the party’s zoning principle.
The PDP northern caucus, which spearheaded the move, in collaboration with the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) members in the House, had hinged their action on the alleged usurpation of the Presidency, in May 2011, from the North which, in conformity with the party’s zoning principle, was billed to rule the country till 2015. Obasanjo was allegedly held culpable by the North for the turn of events that culminated in the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan from the South-South, as president.
The development in the House further cast doubt on the feasibility and continuity of the controversial zoning arrangement. Many had believed that it marked the end of the zoning principle in the party, adopted to ensure equity and fairness in the distribution of power among the zones.
Some critics, however, view the arrangement as being sustainable only when it appears to serve the immediate interests of some major stakeholders in the party.
The zoning arrangement shows that the North-East will produce the national chairman, South-South- deputy national chairman and national financial secretary, while the South-West will produce national secretary and national auditor.
The election of the party’s national executives is part of the myriad of political activities slated to take place in the party across the federation this month, which started with ward elections last weekend in 10 states of the federation. The party scheduled its ward, local government, state, zonal and national congresses to hold on various dates, starting from March 3 to 31, 2012.
Meanwhile, the announcement has started eliciting reactions from some zones and sparked off high-powered politicking, with some already scheduling meetings to discuss how to share the offices allocated to the zones. For example, a few days the ago, hundreds of youths from the zone yesterday stormed the PDP National Secretariat in Abuja over the re-zoning of NWC positions by stakeholders from the zone.
The protest was consequent upon a meeting in Enugu, where PDP governors in the South-East were said to have shared all the NWC positions allocated to the zone in the following order: National Publicity Secretary, Anambra State; National Woman Leader, Imo State; and Deputy National Secretary, Ebonyi State.
Spokesperson of the youths, under the aegis of Renaissance Group (RG), Chinedu Anthony Otuoniye, vehemently condemned the action of the governors, saying “re-zoning, appropriation and imposition of candidates for national offices by some members of South-East caucus” must not be allowed to stand.
What is discernible from the protest is that some key members of the party in the zone and aspirants for some of the offices were schemed out in the decision-making, which did not go down well with them. Otuoniye, whose group represents the Chyna Iwuanyanwu Campaign Organisation, while declaring that his benefactor, Chief Chyna Iwuanyanwu from Imo State, remained the preferred choice for the office of the national publicity secretary, said “a situation where some aspirants and their godfathers hurriedly convened and presided over the meeting to the exclusion of other critical stakeholders and aspirants makes it a conspiracy rather than a caucus meeting.”
It is recalled that the South-East governors scheduled a meeting earlier for Enugu, on Thursday, to work out how to distribute their own share of the offices. The zone, which was allotted the national publicity secretary, deputy national secretary and woman leader planned to “among other things, look at the states that had been benefitting from national offices in the party before and also take cognisance of the appointments given to some states as well,” according to Governor Theodore Orji.