PDP reconciliation: Not yet the truce
Contrary to the orchestrated reconciliation, which the South West zone of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) claimed to have achieved over the controversies on the party’s zoning formula, it appears what was agreed on was a temporary arrangement to cool frayed nerves ahead of its planned national convention scheduled for May 21.
Irked and sharply divided over the decision of the Zoning Committee, headed by Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel and the subsequent approval by the National Executive Council (NEC), to zone the national chairmanship to the north, the South West zone of the PDP insisted the arrangement is not acceptable to midwife the 2019 elections.
Some aggrieved members of the party, particularly from the South West are still resolute on their conviction that it is not possible for a northerner to midwife the presidency of a fellow northerner in the 2019 elections “otherwise the party will never realize its presidential aspiration,” a source disclosed to The Guardian.
Going by the outcome of the separate meetings held in Akure, the Ondo State capital and Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State under the auspices of Governor Segun Mimiko and Senator Buruji Kashamu respectively last week, the South West region claimed to have reconciled all aggrieved members and conceded the presidency and the national chairman to the north.
But The Guardian reliably gathered that the conclusion was a temporary arrangement to appease aggrieved members pending the time the party would hold its mid-term convention in 2017, at the middle of the four-year tenure of the All Progressives Congress’s (APC) administration.”
According to the source, “The PDP has a zoning culture, which is part of its principle since 1998 when it was founded. That culture cannot be jettisoned like that because of the parochial interest of certain people. Let nobody be deceived that a particular zone can have everything to itself without due consideration for the interest of other zones.”
The source further disclosed that what was agreed on at the meeting, which was however expedient, was that they should encourage the Northern region, pacify and appease the people for support ahead of the 2019 elections so that what happened before the 2015 election, which led to the defeat of the party would not repeat itself.
“It is true that the party must strategise to win election but that does not mean the interest of other regions or the principle of fairness, justice and equity must be discarded to the utmost disadvantage of one region.”
The Guardian further gathered that while the temporary arrangements was reached, some disgruntled members of the party have also warned that the stakeholders involved in the process that led to the brokered peace and reconciliation should “keep to their promises of holding a proper mid term convention where each zones will get what it is properly due them otherwise the house will collapse.”
According to him, “They don’t have a choice than to keep their promise to convene a proper mid-term convention in 2017 when the national chairman will return to the South West and the presidency stays in the north.
The faction of the former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George, which distanced itself to the Ogun meeting, said Kashamu’s position contradicts the zoning principle of the party.
He said, “Zoning is not a political jibe, it is because of the congregation that we have in Nigeria. This country is an artificial creation where no one is ready to dump his culture for the other, so the concept of zoning was designed for everybody to have a sense of belonging.”
On whether the development was a deliberate attempt to weaken the South West zone ahead of the 2019 election, the former deputy national chairman said, “Everybody has gotten his or her dirty slaps. For the rest of my life, until I die, I will continuously believe in justice, equity and fairness. We should not continue to lie or deceive ourselves. I am prepared for reconciliation over our differences and to make sure we ameliorate the pains of our people.”
Chief George, who appeared to be the most vocal against the arrangement for the northern presidency and national chairmanship tickets, said the essence of his outcry, was nothing personal.
“I can shut my door and live my life but there is the need for us to leave a legacy. We should collectively ensure that we help our people. That’s what our brothers in the North are doing to their people.
“Have you heard any quake of noise from the North? Why should we keep on dividing our ranks and keep on breaking up. We need to be careful. I agree with the suggestion that we need to close ranks because of the interest of our people.
“We may still maintain our different political platforms but the essence of the development of our people must be paramount in our mind. In politics we must disagree but we must never be disagreeable. We need to network for the good of our people. I will appeal that we close ranks otherwise if we go it alone it is dangerous,” he said.
Explaining why he is unrepentant the national chairman position should go to the north, Kashamu in said given the strong presence of the PDP in the South, with 10 governors out of 17 governors in the South and just two governors in the 19 states in the North “it would make more sense to leave the national chairmanship in the North, so as not to be branded a regional party.”
Kashamu, who represent Ogun East Senatorial District said the development does not foreclose the ambition of anybody from contesting any elective position at the convention, saying: “If some other persons have any other idea, they are at liberty to push it. At the end of the day, it is either superior argument wins or we go to the convention. For us, as true party men, whatever is best for our party and majority of the stakeholders is all we want.”
But a member of the PDP’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Ebenezer Babatope, countered Kashamu’s. He prayed that God would not grant the desire of those wanting to destroy the party including Sheriff, if he has such motive. “It is immoral, senseless and traitorous for a northerner to midwife the election of another northerner presidential candidate for the party in 2019.”
He said the agreement at the Akure meeting was that another national convention would hold next year, where the national chairman that will midwife the process of the 2019 congresses and primaries would emerge proper. The outcome has been sent to the NEC for ratification.”
Since its inception in 1998 till date, the PDP has had 12 national chairmen, ten from the north and two from South East region. The South West is yet to savour the position.
Dr. Alax Ekwueme, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor and Dr. Okwesileze Nwodo (South) while Chief Solomon Lar, Chief Barnabas Gemade, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Col. Ahmadu Ali, Dr. Haliru Mohammed, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, Adamu Mu’azu and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff are from north.
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