There are indications that fresh crisis is brewing in the Peoples Democratic Party over the zoning of its national chairmanship position to the South-West.
Already, one of the serious contenders for the position from the South-South, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, has rejected the zoning arrangement and has picked the form to contest the office of the national chairman at the forthcoming national convention.
The convention holds in Port Harcourt on August 17.
Dokpesi, who was the first person to pay the mandatory N1m for the form, was represented by one of his sons at the party’s temporary national secretariat in Abuja.
The son, Raymond jnr., refused to speak with journalists after he paid and collected the form.
The leaders of the party from the southern part of the country met in Port Harcourt on Thursday where the decision to zone the office to the South-West was taken.
In the meeting attended by governors, National Assembly members and former ministers, the leaders of the part from the Southern Nigeria, also zoned the positions of National Treasurer and Deputy National Publicity Secretary to the South-West.
The party zoned the position of first Deputy National Chairman to the South-South. This zone also got the positions of National Legal Adviser, Deputy National Woman Leader and Deputy National Auditor.
The South-East got the the offices of the National Organising Secretary, National Youth Leader and Deputy National Financial Secretary.
Before the zoning, there were indications that two other persons from the South-South were eyeing the office of the national chairman. They are Prince Uche Secondus and Austin Okpara.
It is believed that the two men, who are from Rivers State, have agreed with the decision of the leaders of the party on the zoning and had jettisoned their ambition.
In furtherance of the zoning, a former Deputy National Chairman of the party from South-West, Chief Bode George had also picked form to run for the office of the national chairman.
George, after picking the form, promised to reposition and stabilize the party.
He said, “It takes and experience captain to stabilise a ship hit by tornado. And if you know the crisis in PDP, that is the position the party is facing right now.
“But I am happy that all is not lost, and the condition has been enhanced, zoning has gone extremely well. I have paid my dues in this party and I should not be afraid of anybody.
“Since 1999, I never left the party to anywhere. I met crises and problems. I have been able to resolve them. I have risen meritorious, from vice chairman South-West to deputy chairman (South) and deputy chairman overall. I have been able to resolve problems.
“If people vote for me, I look forward to stabilise the party and put it in right position. The ruling party should get ready for serious engagement because we have started a cohesive battle ahead 2019.”
He promised to bring back those who defected from the party to the All Progressives Congress, where he said they remain as tenants.
“Everybody will have to come on board even those of our friends who were angry and left for the APC. They are tenants there, but they landlords in PDP. If we are lucky and we get the right leadership who is fair and just and committed in the party, they will come back,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Board of Trustees of the party has said the party is not for sale and called on its members to vote the right candidate for all offices.
Chairman of the Board, Sen. Walid Jibrin, who stated this during the inauguration of the party’s national convention committee in Abuja, said it would be good for the party to elect reliable persons to manage its affairs.
He advised aspirants to abide by the zoning arrangement, but said anyone who was not disposed to it was free to contest.
Jibrin said, “We must remind all of us that the party is supreme. Therefore, I implore all of us to abide by this principle (of zoning).
“Today is party is characterised by court cases. I can count about 15 court cases which is alien to the PDP. We have a constitution that set out procedure for settling grievances and for us to solve our problems internally.
“But unfortunately, rather than judging our selves our problems are going out and we are being judged by someone else outside of our constitution.
“This party is not for sale. This party must be a party of very conscious people. We are telling every delegate to reject anybody that come with money.
“We are an honest and upright person. This party will not want somebody that will come and buy his way into office. The BoT will no longer accept any leadership to be forced on the party.”
In his own remarks, Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the party, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, defended the decision to reserve the chairmanship slot for the South-West zone, but said that the despising was not aimed to short changed anybody.
Makarfi said, “I recall when we last met here to inaugurate the zoning committee and I mentioned on behalf of the caretaker committee that the convention would be an all-inclusive one and that offices to be contested for would be open to all and sundry, that doesn’t mean people cannot come together to zone offices.
“If zoning does not favour you and you still think that you have the best chance of winning, the political landscape is there. It’s up to you to campaign across the country to get enough delegates to support you.
“Zoning doesn’t mean you have been excluded, it is meeting of the minds. And it is for every aspirant to assess by himself or herself whether he or she has the capacity to garner more support than.
“Collection of people that come together to have a common position. So, I don’t want people to have the impression that they have been excluded from the process. After all democracy is about minority will have their say, majority will have their way.
“But in PDP, we have the culture of coming together to be one family so that both minority and majority can work together for the good of the PDP.”