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2023 Presidency: Matters Arising As 37 PDP Wise Men Abandon Zoning, Throw Contest Open

Seasoned political analysts and opinion leaders in Enugu on Saturday during an interactive program, Freedom Square, on Solid 100.9 FM anchored by Hon. Uchenna Cyril Anioke, bared their minds on the purported report of the Gov. Ortom led 37men Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) committee on zoning’s recommendation that the party jettison the zoning of it’s presidential ticket to the South.

Recall that PDP had set up the 37 men committee made up of political heavyweights, one each from the 36 States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, to look  at the issue of zoning the party’s presidential ticket and other offices.

The committee had met several times and although it has said it is waiting for the National Working Committee (NEC) of the party to announce their recommendations, it has become general knowledge that it has decided to throw the party’s presidential ticket open for all contestants instead of zoning it to the South-East which has been agitating for the slot on the basis of equity, justice and fair play.

Reacting to the issue, one of the analysts at the program, Dr. Augustine Okolie, a Development and Management Consultant,was of the opinion that the 37 committee members are not wise men because there is nothing wise in their decision. He said they selected themselves and secondly, they did not carry out any consultations with their people on zoning. He stressed that zoning is good for harmony and stability. He observed that the committee’s decision may have been informed by the need for the party to win back power by all means. He therefore advised that PDP should put its house in order to produce the sort of national leadership that will heal the almost broken country and get it moving forward again.

Another discussant, Dr. Obasi Obasi, a Public Health Analyst,however, ascribed wisdom to the 37 PDP men. He sited the wisdom of the committee’s recommendation on not wanting to lose votes from the North if they decided to zone the presidential ticket to the South and they also know that denying the South-East the ticket would amount to shooting themselves in the foot. So they decided to throw the contest open in order not to lose out on either side. He pointed out that the committee must have realized that it is better to select the party’s presidential candidate at the convention so they can easily reconcile aggrieved members.

For Chief Hon. Ray Nnaji, Former National Auditor of PDP and a known advocate of zoning, the 37 committee members are truly wise men. He stressed that it is not by an initial strike that success or otherwise is determined pointing out that if PDP had done what they do now in 2014, they would not have lost. In his opinion, the party should have allowed all those interested to go to the field and try, even if eventually Jonathan emerges. He said that the 37 men recommendation was in the committee report and is not yet the party’s final decision: that it is the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party that will take the final decision.

There is nothing wrong for the presidential ticket to be thrown open if it will give the party the presidency,” he said, adding that the party needs to get to power in order to salvage the nation.

On why he insists on zoning for Enugu governorship seat butmaintains that the presidential ticket at the federal level be thrown open and not zoned, Chief Hon. Nnaji argued that States have their own peculiarities. In his words, “You don’t use what is at the federal to judge for the states.He pointed out that the 37 men committee is at the national level and that their recommendation is not binding on the states. He also explained that PDP is trying to avoid rancor, bitterness and a situation whereby the minority will start crying.

All three guests on the program, however, are of the opinion that whether there is zoning or not, everyone is free to contest since it is a fundamental right of the individual to aspire for political office. While Dr. Obasi urged PDP to consider the Igbo for the party’s presidential ticket since the ruling APC has seeded theirs to the South, Chief Hon. Nnaji asserts that the party will ultimately decide in its best interest. For Dr. Okolie, zoning in the state is desirable if the people sit down and draft a plan and formally ratify it. He affirmed that power belongs to the people and that it is the people that will use their votes to zone the governorship of the state to the appropriate zone.

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