These are not good times for the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The umbrella association has for long played the mind game with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) over zoning of presidential slot.
But it would appear that the party is in a quandary over where to zone the ticket and the saleable candidate that can effectively do battle against the APC.
While it is sincerely considering a shift to the South, it is also being sceptical, a state of mind that has created a situation of indefinite meetings to find a way around the quagmire.
Since October last year when the PDP had its successful National Convention that produced Iyorchia Ayu as the chairman, all eyes have been on the party to make public the zone that would produce its presidential candidate or announce if the ticket is open for every aspirant to contest.
The deafening silence has given indication that all is not well with the party in that regard.
The level of the challenge the party is facing came to the fore a few days ago following the developments around some of its high profile meetings where important decisions were expected to be taken
It emerged that the party was unable to hold its scheduled National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.
Before the NEC meeting originally scheduled for 2pm Tuesday, March 17 at the National secretariat of the party, the National caucus of the party had met at the Akwa Ibom Governors Lodge in Asokoro, the previous night.
It was gathered that the meeting did not produce anything concrete.
On Tuesday, Debo Ologunagba, the party’s spokesman, told journalists that all the meetings of the different organs of the party scheduled for that day had been postponed to Wednesday.
“After effective discussions, we have adjourned the meeting to Wednesday for the continuation of all the issues on the agenda,” Ologunagba said.
He further said: “On Wednesday at 10 a.m. the caucus meeting will hold; thereafter, the BoT meeting and then the NEC meeting.”
Another sign that the party may be having a difficult time arriving at the zoning arrangement was the meeting between Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, who also is touted to nurse presidential ambition in 2023, and some BoT members on Tuesday.
Atiku was the party’s presidential candidate in 2019 and he is said to be seeking the party’s ticket once again for 2023.
He was said to have warned members of the Board of Trustees that the party might not survive another eight years as an opposition party.
He reportedly asked the elders of the party to work with him to clinch the presidency in 2023 or “we all retire together.”
He said that the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo where he served as the vice president still remains best since 1999.
“Many of you were part of the success story of the PDP government between 1999 and 2007. Today, no administration since then, had made as much achievement as our administration.
“What I’m saying is based on facts, take any aspect of our growth whether it is economy, whether it is healthcare, whether it is agriculture, whether it is education, the landmark achievements we made in 1999 to 2007 have not been matched by any subsequent administration,” he said.
According to him, “I am worried and you should be worried too that if we do not win, it means we will be in opposition again for the next eight years. By the next eight years, I don’t know how many of us will be left in politics and it may even ultimately lead to the death of the party because people gravitate, particularly in developing countries, towards governments. So this is a very crucial and historical moment in history, for our survival.”
On zoning, Atiku urged PDP not to be considering zoning option because the APC has done same.
“We invented and formulated this zoning policy simply because we wanted every part of this country to have a sense of belonging and I personally have paid my dues on the issue of zoning.
“Therefore, you cannot come and try to imply that the PDP has not been following the zoning policy. The many years of PDP government eight years and six years all of them were from the south. So, we should not be stampeded by the opposition party. They have a moral obligation,” he said.
BusinessDay gathered that the greatest challenge the PDP is facing at the moment is having the courage to take a decision.
A credible source in the party said: “Our party leaders are in a fix right now. You don’t just take a decision that is far-reaching as zoning in a country where everybody wants to have it at the same time. It needs wide consultation. I think the greatest challenge right now is how to placate the South East.
If the PDP refuses to zone the ticket to South East it may lead to implosion and the party may lose the zone.
“On the other hand, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is about the only single member that can prosecute the presidential election campaign without much input from the party, in terms of financing, like he did in 2019. Not giving the ticket to him is also a serious problem for the party. You can see why I said the party is in a fix.”