Leading lights of the Peoples Democratic Party in Nigeria’s South-west geopolitical zone are threatening to dump the party en masse should the zone be blocked from producing the next national chairman of the party.
A former presidential aide, Doyin Okupe, told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday night that party leaders in the zone met in Ikoyi, Lagos, last week and took a position on how to respond if the zone is “robbed” at the party’s national convention next month.
“We took a firm position which was that we will dump the party en masse if we get robbed again at this year’s convention,” Mr. Okupe said.
Some of the PDP leaders present at the meeting included a former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Olabode George; the governorship candidate of the party in Lagos in the 2015 election, Jimi Agbaje and Gbenga Daniel, a former governor of Ogun State.
A former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, Olajumoke Akinjide; a former Minister of Works, Adeseye Ogunlewe and party chieftain, Bode Olajumoke were also at the meeting, Mr. Okupe said.
He therefore advised Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State to resist pressure from politicians and do the right thing by zoning the chairmanship position of the Peoples Democratic Party to the southwest geopolitical zone.
Mr. Okupe said Mr. Udom’s final decision would determine if history would judge him kindly or as a villain.
The PDP zoning committee is expected to meet On Tuesday (today) in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, where the party’s zoning formula would be redesigned.
The meeting is part of the party’s preparation ahead of its upcoming national convention on May 21 in Port-Harcourt.
Mr. Okupe said the Yoruba people had endured relegation for too long within the PDP, adding that the only way the party could atone for this injustice was to let the south-west nominate the next chairman.
“Governor Udom is a young gentleman whom I believe still has a long future in Nigerian politics ahead of him,” Mr. Okupe said. “It will be unfortunate if he allowed himself to be used to relegate Yoruba people within the affairs of the party once again. The PDP has done a lot of wrongs to the Yoruba people and our position now is that they should start making amends by allowing us to present the next chairman.”
Mr. Okupe also argued that since the PDP had already zoned its presidential ticket in 2019 to the north, zoning the party’s topmost position to the same zone would amount to a “robbery and betrayal’ on the part of the party’s leadership.
“As you can see from the rally that was held by PDP yesterday in Jigawa State, it’s very clear that the presidential slot is going to the north, so I don’t think the chairmanship should go back to the same north unless they’re determined to carry out another robbery and betrayal against the southwest.”
Mr. Okupe said Mr. Udom should remember when the Yoruba were at the forefront of Nigeria, fighting for the plight of the minorities across the country, especially in the south-south and in the north.
“Nigerian history is replete with several instances in which the Yoruba people led the struggle for the actualisation of the minority agenda in the country, we fought for the people of south-south and the minorities in the north to have a say about the process of governance in this country, so it will be an utmost betrayal if Udom failed to let the chairmanship position come to the south-west as should be,” Mr. Okupe said.
Mr. Sheriff’s decision to contest for a full term in office, which enjoys the support of most of the governors on the platform of the party, has continued to generate ripples across the party’s state and national structures.
While the proponents of Mr. Sheriff’s leadership maintained that the former Borno State governor remained the right man to lead the party at this point in the nation’s history; others, especially the youth wing of the party, said Mr. Sheriff did not fit into the party’s contemporary status and threatened mass defection should he return as chairman after the convention.[Premium Times]