The decision of Prince Uche Secondus to contest for the chairmanship position of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is causing a lot of ripples within the party.
Ahead of the party’s national convention slated to hold in Abuja on December 9, many leaders of the party are divided over the choice to Secondus, a former acting Chairman of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) as chairman of the party.
While northern elders within the party are arguing over whether or not Secondus should throw his hat into the ring to contest for the exalted position, there are also reports that former president Goodluck Jonathan is also not predisposed to Secondus occupying the seat.
The decision of the former president is said to have pitched him against Governor Nyesome Wike of Rivers State, where Secondus hails from, and some other South-South governors.
The issue of whether or not Secondus should contest the post of chairmanship of the PDP is borne out of arguments, and indecision of the party leaders on whether or not the positions up for the contest at the national convention, should be micro zoned.
Though the party has agreed that the south should produce the next national chairman of the party, many chieftains are canvassing that it should be micro zoned to the South West, while others, especially those in support of Secondus (who is from the South-South) argue that it should be left open to every part of the south.
This has created cracks among northern stakeholders in the party who have split into two, one in support of micro-zoning the chairmanship to the South West, and the other pushing for it to be open to the whole south, to include Secondus.
The division blew open on Friday after a group led by a former Information Minister, Prof Jerry Gana, issued a communique declaring that party stakeholders in the North had unanimously agreed to micro-zone the position to the South West.
This was swiftly opposed by another group led by Mallam Sani Kutigi which said the declaration by the Gana group, was an “obnoxious and objectionable” plot to rail-road the region into illegality.
The Gana group had issued its communique after a meeting convened under the aegis of Northern Elders and Leaders Forum.
The communique, dated December 1, 2017, and signed by a former Education Minister, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau and Mrs. Margaret Icheen, stated: “As we head to the national convention, the forum showed keen interest on the position of the National Chairman.
“The forum received reports from the three geo-political zones of the region, regarding the micro-zoning of positions zoned to them, in line with the spirit of rotation.
“The forum resolved that capable and competent aspirants should be identified and supported.
“After extensive deliberations, it was resolved that in the spirit of fairness, equity, carrying every part of the country along, giving every geo-political zone a sense of participation and inclusion in the affairs of the PDP, we strongly support the quest of the Southwest geo-political zone to produce the next National Chairman of the party.
“In line with our resolve to rebuild and reposition the PDP, we urge delegates from all the Northern states to abide by this decision and vote for only aspirants from the Southwest geo-political zone in the forthcoming national convention, in the best interest of the party.
“This is without prejudice to the right of aspirants from other geopolitical zones to contest.”
However, at a media briefing in Abuja the same day, the Kutigi group, who were also part of the meeting, accused Shekarau, Gana, and others of betraying a mutual agreement not to micro-zone the position.
According to Kutigi: “This group of people lacks any authority or voice to speak on behalf of the North as a homogeneous entity and is therefore on its own. Their action is hereby rejected and totally condemned.
“Majority of members from the North dissociate themselves from this misadventure which potents unintended consequences if left unchallenged.
“It is a slap on the face and an insult on the face of Southern Nigerian politicians/leaders that a few members from the North can sit down and determine who to elect.
“While rejecting micro-zoning, we affirm our belief in the sanctity of the larger, more inclusive arrangement which gave Southern Nigeria the position of National Chairman of our great party.
“Party members from the North pledge to 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 of the states that make up Southern Nigeria.
“This decision is to forestall a situation where the action under scrutiny is used to deny certain section a shot at the offices as currently zoned through a dubious and undemocratic means of micro-zoning.
“Finally, if the party must reinvent itself as the true vanguard of democracy in Nigeria, it should not allow certain elements to hijack and abuse due process in the upcoming national convention, as this will only amount to going back to an inglorious past that we’ll rather forget.”
On his part, former President Jonathan is said to be using his clout within the PDP to shoot down Secondus ambition to lead the party.
Secondus however, enjoys the support of his governor, Wike and some other South-South governors, who are said to be unhappy with Jonathan over his decision.
The Jonathan, Wike disagreement may not be unconnected to attempts to take charge of the party structure, especially in Rivers and Bayelsa axis ahead of the 2019 elections.