PDP Chairmanship Race: Plot Against South-West Bid Thickens
Olusola Fabiyi, Abuja
There are indications that the South-West zone of the Peoples Democratic Party may lose the chance to produce the national chairman of the PDP if its members fail to put their house in order, The PUNCH has learnt.
Already, it was gathered that the South-South zone of the party is making moves to present a consensus candidate for the position at the party’s national convention which is slated for December 9 in Abuja.
At the last count, three aspirants from the zone are said to be under consideration for the position.
The aspirants are a former acting National Chairman for the party, Uche Secondus; a former governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke; and a media mogul, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi.
Out of the three aspirants, only Dokpesi has openly shown interest in the race.
Speaking with our correspondent in Abuja on Tuesday, Dokpesi, said he was still consulting on his aspiration, adding that the picture for the zoning of the national offices would become clearer after the meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee.
Though no date has been fixed for the meeting, he said only the NEC could clear the air on the zoning of the party offices.
“It is convenient to say that I’m still consulting. I have not made up my mind on when I’m going to declare (my interest to run). I’m also waiting for the NEC of our party to meet and take a final decision on the zoning of the offices.
“It is only the NEC that will give the clear picture on what will happen and when the race will open. For now, I’m still consulting,” Dokpesi sated.
The party had, at its last national convention, zoned the office of the national chairman to the South while it also zoned its 2019 presidential ticket to the North.
Shortly after the zoning, political leaders from the South met and ceded the office to the South-West.
Our correspondent gathered that the political leaders had reasoned that it was only the South-West that had yet to produce the party’s national chairman out of the three zones in the South.
A source close to the party said the aspirants from the South-South would step down for the one that was acceptable to the party and its members from the other zones.
If this happens, aspirants from the South-West, who have all vowed not to step down for each other, would split their votes at the convention.
It was also gathered that the presidential bid of Governor Ayodele Fayose was another ploy to deny the zone of the chairmanship position.
Fayose, it was gathered, was planning to negotiate to be the running mate of the presidential candidate of the party from the North.
“When we have a vice-presidential ticket, you know we cannot produce the national chairman of the party anymore. If Fayose has his way, he may direct delegates from the party from the South-West to cast their votes for another aspirant outside the South-West at the national convention,” a top party source told our correspondent on Tuesday.
The aspirants are a former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran; a former Minister of Youths, Prof, Taoheed Adedoja; a former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George; a former National Secretary of the party, Prof. Wale Oladipo, and a former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
Reacting to the desire of the members of the party from the South-South to run for the office of the national chairman, Adeniran said consultations were ongoing in order to make sure that the South-West was not denied the opportunity of leading the party.
Speaking through the Director of Media and Publicity of his campaign organisation, Mr. Taiwo Akeju, the former minister reminded members of the party to remember that only the South-West had yet to lead the party, which was formed 19 years ago.
He said, “We know that our brothers and sisters from the South-South and other zones will concede the position to us in the South-West. We are already discussing and talking on this.
“The PDP is a big family and we know all our members across the country will back us to produce the national chairman. The South-South has produced an acting national chairman and it produced the President as well. We know that they will support us.”
In his reaction, George, who told our correspondent that he would be making an open declaration in Lagos on Friday, also called for unity among members of the party in the South-West.
“Yes, it was zoned to the South, but later zoned to the South-West. However, what we need is unity among our members in the South-West so that this opportunity does not slip away from us,” the former military governor added.
Daniel, who also promised to make his bid public on October 18, also called for the cooperation of all members of the party from the zone.
The former governor told our correspondent through his media aide, Mr. Boladale Adekoya, that “unity is what is important among our members across the country now.