Abuja – As PDP delegates prepare for the Dec. 9 National Convention, its chairmen in northern states have urged them to ignore a directive to vote only aspirants from the South-West for the National Chairmanship position.
A group of elders from the northern zone had met on Thursday in Abuja and resolved to encourage northern delegates to the convention to vote a candidate from the south-west to emerge as the next party boss.
In a communique signed by Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, former Kano Governor, and Mrs. Margaret Icheen, former Benue Speaker, the group said that the office, which had been zoned to the entire south, be sub-zoned to the South-West.
They premised their stance on the need to be “fair” to the South-West and “give them a sense of inclusion” in the affairs of the PDP.
Other notable elders at the meeting included former Senate President, David Mark, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, Sen Ibrahim Mantu, Alhaji Aminu Wali, Prof. Jerry Gana and Sen Jonah Jang.
Also at the meeting were former Niger governor, Babangida Aliyu, his Benue counterpart, Gabriel Suswam, among others.
But PDP Chairmen in the 19 northern states and the FCT, who reviewed the elders’ stance at a meeting in Abuja, dissociated themselves from the directive which they said was “undemocratic”.
Mr Hassan Hyat, Chairman, Forum of PDP States Chairmen in the North, who read their communique, said that it was not right to sub-zone the seat to any particular zone.
“The position cannot be sub-zoned to a particular zone in the south because that will disenfranchise other contestants. We, as state chairmen, cannot be party to any micro-zoning.
“The party’s decision at the Port Harcourt Convention is final and binding on all. No one has the right to change or tamper with it,” Hyat declared.
Recalling the declaration at the Port Harcourt Convention last year, Hyat said that the seat was zoned to all parts of the south and stressed the need to allow all zones in the south to present their candidates.
“We stand by that position and have resolved to reject any sub-zoning to a particular area,” the Forum declared.
The Forum further declared that zoning was a cardinal principle of the PDP and should “never be toyed with”.
It urged delegates to assess candidates on merit and vote as directed by their conscience.
The party chiefs advised the contestants to be “temperate and civil” in the use of language and avoid actions or statements that could create sharp division within the family.
“The party’s interest should be the principal guiding spirit. No other personal or group’s interest should be placed over it,” the group declared.
It urged members seeking positions to “understand that power comes from God” and be prepared to accept whoever God ordained to lead the PDP.
The group commended the National Caretaker Committee of the PDP for strengthening the party after its protracted crises, and expressed happiness that the PDP was growing stronger “every minute”.
It particularly expressed satisfaction with the attention the party was gaining nationwide, saying that recent defections to the fold was a testimony to its rising popularity.
On the recent return of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, to the PDP, Hyat said that it was a “beautiful development”.
“Atiku is back and we are all happy to have him on board once again. We are going to receive even more defectors in the next few days. It only shows that our party is waxing stronger,” he said.
Hyat, however, rejected suggestions that the returnees would divide the PDP.
“The defectors will not divide the party. They will make us stronger. We need them to build a strong force to wrestle power from the APC,” he said.
Meanwhile, other participants at the elders meeting led by former House of Representatives member, Alhaji Sani Kutigi, and former acting governor of Adamawa, Ahmadu Fintiri, have expressed surprise at the directive by the elders.
Kutigi, who read the group’s position, said that the issue of micro-zoning of the national chairmanship position was discussed at the elders meeting, but that an agreement was not reached on the matter.
“As participants at that meeting, we were surprised that micro-zoning appeared on the communique as the position taken by the participants.
“The north has no right to micro-zone a position that has been zoned to the entire south.
“At the meeting, we warned participants against taking a position because we would not want the south to do the same thing to the north in the case of the presidential ticket zoned to the north,” Kutigi explained.
Kutigi declared that the elders group lacked any authority to speak on behalf of the North as a homogeneous entity.
“We wish to state clearly that we shall 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 State that makes up Southern Nigeria,” he said.