*Fresh tension as Makarfi, Shema, Dankwambo join chairmanship race
*Why Mark may lose out
By Dirisu Yakubu
The search for a new national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is far from nearing an end, following new developments in the last 48 hours.
Until recently, Senator David Mark, former President of the Senate was on the driving seat as no less than six governors elected on the platform of the party championed his aspiration and reached out to prominent party leaders prior to the National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting which held on Thursday.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that few hours after the NEC meeting, PDP stakeholders from the North gathered at the Bauchi Governor’s lodge, Asokoro for yet another crucial meeting.
READ ALSO: 2023: Tension as PDP NEC meets on zoning today
A reliable source and confidant of one of the governors confided in this medium that four out of the five PDP governors from the North suggested that the chairmanship be zoned to the North-Central but this was turned down by other stakeholders who argued that it was better for the office to be thrown open to the three geo-political zones in the North.
“It was four against one but majority of those present said it was better to throw the race open to the whole North. At the end, it was also resolved that all those interested in the office should indicate interest before 12 noon on Friday (yesterday).
“Once the zone collates the number of interested persons for the chairmanship position, a decision to micro zone other NWC offices zoned to the North will be taken,” he said.
It would be recalled that the Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi Committee on zoning recently recommended the swapping of party offices, such that those being held by Southerners would go the way of Northerners in the new working committee; a recommendation ratified by the 94th NEC of the party earlier this week.
Apart from the office of the national chairman, other positions going the way of the North are the National Organizing Secretary, National Legal Adviser, National Youth Leader and National Treasurer of the party.
Following this development, four persons, two each from the North-East and North-West have signified interest in the race.
They are the deputy national chairman (North), Senator Suleiman Nazif and former Gombe state governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo while from the North-West, two former governors, Senator Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna) and Ibrahim Shema (Katsina) are said to have indicated interest too.
Meanwhile, Saturday Vanguard gathered that the new move against Mark may not be unconnected with what our source described as “the need to secure the future now that we can.”
According to him, Mark being a Christian may throw the party into a difficult political problem if a Southern Presidential candidate emerges for the 2023 election.
“Nigeria is a highly sensitive religious country. Leaders of the party feel that if a Southern Christian emerges as our Presidential candidate, the PDP will have fresh trouble to contend with.
“You can see that even in our meetings, Christian and Muslim prayers are observed. These things may sound ridiculous but they sit firmly in the hearts of politicians who will not hesitate to make an issue out of them at the appropriate time,” he added.
Wike, Makinde insist on southern presidency
For Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state and his Oyo state counterpart, Seyi Makinde, zoning the PDP Presidential ticket to the South is not only the right thing to do but would also comply with the party’s entrenched principle of zoning.
While it is not clear who the Oyo state governor is backing from the South for the top job, Wike is believed to be nursing ambition to run for the exalted office in 2023.
They are up against their Sokoto and Bauchi state counterparts, Aminu Tambuwal and Bala Mohammed who have both been credited with interest in the race.
However, his ambition may be difficult to sell even if the party officially zones the ticket to the South.
Apart from coming from a minority tribe in the South, the idea of another South-Southerner flying the flag of the PDP after Goodluck Jonathan may come across as too soon for the main opposition party.
The party will, shortly after its convention, convene a NEC meeting to take a second look at the Bala Mohammed committee report which recommended that the Presidential race be thrown open to all six geo-political zones.
This is likely to be upheld given the manner politicians drawn from the North and South have been laying claims to the sole ticket in the past couple of weeks.
Former Vice President and party’s Presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar said on Thursday that zoning political offices was not the problem of Nigeria and would not provide solutions to the Nigerian problem.
Party faithful in many quarters feel that he has the structure to grab the party’s ticket if it’s thrown open. And that’s why those who insist on Presidential ticket going south want it zoned to the region.
Vanguard News Nigeria
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