The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is enmeshed in confusion with cracks among party stakeholders in the North over plot by some party elders to micro-zone the chairmanship slot to the South West.
The party’s Caretaker Committe and the National Executive Committee (NEC) had already said the position should be open to interested aspirants from all parts of the South.
Crisis erupted in Abuja yesterday after a group led by a former Information Minister, Prof Jerry Gana, issued a communique declaring that party stakeholders in the North had micro-zoned the position to the South West.
But in a counter move, another group, led by Mallam Sani Kutigi disagreed with the Gana group, describing the declaration by the Gana group as “obnoxious and objectionable” plot to rail-road the region into illegality.
The Gana group, at a meeting convened under the aegis of Northern Elders and Leaders Forum, had issued a communique after a marathon meeting that ended in the wee hours of yesterday, declaring that the chairmanship slot had been micro-zoned to the South West geo-political zone.
The communique, dated December 1, 2017 and signed by a former Education Minister, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau and Mrs. Margaret Icheen, stated that the North had unanimously agreed to the micro-zoning of the slot and urged delegates from the region to vote for only chairmanship candidates from the South West.
The communique stated: “As we head to the national convention, the forum showed keen interest on the position of the National Chairman.
“The forum received reports from the three geo-political zones of the region, regarding the micro-zoning of positions zoned to them, in line with the spirit of rotation.
“The forum resolved that capable and competent aspirants should be identified and supported.
“After extensive deliberations, it was resolved that in the spirit of fairness, equity, carrying every part of the country along, giving every geo-political zone a sense of participation and inclusion in the affairs of the PDP, we strongly support the quest of the Southwest geo-political zone to produce the next National Chairman of the party.
“In line with our resolve to rebuild and reposition the PDP, we urge delegates from all the Northern states to abide by this decision and vote for only aspirants from the Southwest geo-political zone in the forthcoming national convention, in the best interest of the party.
“This is without prejudice to the right of aspirants from other geo-political zones to contest.”
The Gana group is loyal to one of the chairmanship aspirants from the South West, Prof Tunde Adeniran, while the Kutigi group is loyal to an aspirant from the South South, Prince Uche Secondus.
At a media briefing in Abuja yesterday, members of the Kutigi group, who also attended the meeting, accused Shekarau, Gana and others of betraying a mutual agreement not to micro-zone the position.
According to Kutigi, Gana and his group lacked the authority to speak for the North on the matter, describing their action as an insult and a slap on the face of party members from the South.
Kutigi said the declaration by Gana and his group portended grave consequences for the unity of the PDP if left unchallenged.
Kutigi said: “This group of people lacks any authority or voice to speak on behalf of the North as a homogeneous entity and is therefore on its own. Their action is hereby rejected and totally condemned.
“Majority of members from the North dissociate themselves from this misadventure which potents unintended consequences if left unchallenged.
“It is a slap on the face and an insult on the face of Southern Nigerian politicians/leaders that a few members from the North can sit down and determine who to elect.
“While rejecting micro-zoning, we affirm our belief in the sanctity of the larger, more inclusive arrangement which gave Southern Nigeria the position of National Chairman of our great party.
“Party members from the North pledge to support only a free and fair process where a new National Chairman will emerge regardless of which place he comes from, so long as he is from any of the states that make up Southern Nigeria.
“This decision is to forestall a situation where the action under scrutiny is used to deny certain section a shot at the offices as currently zoned through a dubious and undemocratic means of micro-zoning.
“Finally, if the party must reinvent itself as the true vanguard of democracy in Nigeria, it should not allow certain elements to hijack and abuse due process in the upcoming national convention, as this will only amount to going back to an inglorious past that we’ll rather forget.”