A defiant Peoples Democratic Party on Thursday assigned the position of its national chairman to the Northeast geopolitical zone, ignoring threats of mass defection by some of its chieftains who insisted the position be zoned to the Southwest region.
The decision was reached at the party’s 70th National Executive Council meeting held on Thursday at its national secretariat in Abuja.
The decision, which was made by the party’s zoning committee led by Akwa Ibom State’s Emmanuel Udom, has now cleared the way for Ali-Modu Sheriff, the national chairman of the party, to contest for a full term at the party’s national convention next month.
The newly adopted zoning arrangements as contained in a statement signed by Olisa Metuh, the party’s spokesman, are as follows:
i. National Chairman – North-East
ii. Deputy National Chairman – South-South
iii. National Secretary – South-West
iv. Deputy National Secretary – North-Central
v. National Legal Adviser – North-West
vi. Deputy National Legal Adviser – South-South
vii. National Treasurer – South-South
viii. Deputy National Treasurer – North-West
ix. National Financial Secretary – North-Central
x. Deputy National Financial Sec. – South-East
xi. National Woman Leader – North-West
xii. Deputy National Woman Leader – South-South
xiii. National Auditor – South-West
xiv. Deputy National Auditor – North-East
xv. National Publicity Secretary – South-West
xvi. Deputy National Publicity Sec. – North-Central
xvii. National Organizing Secretary – South-East
xviii. Deputy National Organizing Sec. – North-Central
xix. National Youth Leader – South- East
xix. Deputy National Youth Leader – North-West
Mr. Sheriff, appointed in February to complete the tenure of Adamu Mu’azu, has been pushing to hold on to the position amid opposition from mainly southwest PDP leaders.
Thursday’s decision highlights the unwavering influence of the party’s governors’ caucus, which has remained Mr. Sheriff’s most supportive bloc within the party.
The party’s Board of Trustees, which took a hard stance against him before today, gave a backhanded support to the decision.
Walid Jibrin, the BoT chairman, was present at the meeting, although several other members were not.
The party’s national secretary, Wale Oladipo, told PREMIUM TIMES that some of the absent members sent in a letters and apologies.
“The BoT is part of NEC and some of the BoT members that didn’t attend sent in letters to explain and apologise, Mrs. Maina Waziri is one of them,” Mr. Oladipo said.
Mr. Jibrin, a senator, urged all aggrieved members of the party to eschew their discontentment in order not to leave the party fractured.
“Many of us who are founding members of the PDP will not leave the PDP and the PDP will never die. We will continue to be in PDP whatever mistake is there we might be there to correct it and make our contribution.
“Leaving PDP is not the answer, I will like to appeal to everyone who intends to leave the PDP to stop that. We must unite and all work together in order to build PDP. PDP is within a very good marking and I do not think I see anything wrong with PDP,” Mr. Jibrin said.
“Every party has its own problems and we should use our own problems positively. I’m sure soon the whole problem in PDP will be resolved.”
Doyin Okupe, a former presidential aide, said the party had “entered the road to perdition” with the decision.
Mr. Okupe, who has become one of the most vociferous voices against Mr. Sheriff in recent weeks, had said he and other party leaders from the southwest agreed to defect if the southwest is denied the chairmanship position.
“The PDP has now entered the road to perdition with the appointment of someone who’s only known public image is that he’s a Boko Haram sponsor,” Mr. Okupe said. “This is shameful, and I hope all Nigerians, especially loyal members of the party, reject this unfortunate development.”
Mr. Okupe also added that the decision of the PDP’s NEC, which is the party’s highest decision-marking organ, to circumvent the zoning arrangement of the party in order to impose Mr. Sheriff on the members is another slippery slope that the party is unlikely to escape.
“This leaders of the party in NEC decided to ignore the zoning arrangement of the party so that they could impose Mr. Sheriff on all members, this is a very dangerous cliff that the PDP can never escape,” Mr. Okupe said. “It is over for the party.”
But Mr. Oladipo said all those threatening defection are only exercising their right to free speech, as he did not expect them to leave the party because doing so is “not an easy decision”.
“We’re in a democracy and they have the right to talk anything they want, but I can tell you confidently that they have no intention of leaving the PDP,” Mr. Oladipo said. “It’s easier said than done.”