Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The election of Mr.Uche Secondus new national chairman of the PDP yesterday came with a lot of intrigues and horse trading resulting in some of the aspirants withdrawing from the race. First it was the disagreement among the stakeholders of the PDP in the South over micro zoning. Before the 2016 botched national convention of the party, the southern leaders of the party had met in Port Harcourt to draw up a micro zoning arrangement that ceded the national chairman’s seat to the South-west.
However, following the legal tussle that ensued over the legality of the convention, all efforts to hold fresh convention by the party failed and the matter dragged on until July this year when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the national caretaker committee to end the leadership crisis. However with the fixing of a new date for the national convention, party stakeholders from the South-west expected that the South would be guided by the previous micro zoning arrangement and that the zone would be allowed to produce the chairman. But that was not the case as other zones – the South-south and South-east did not agree to it. Since there was no mutual agreement on the matter, the contest for the chairmanship seat became open to all aspirants from the South.
It was on this basis that the former acting national chairman, Uche Secondus; and the founder of DAAR Communications Plc, Raymond Dokpesi; joined the race along with seven other aspirants from the South-west. The aspirants from the South-west were Chief Bode George, Jimi Agbaje, Rashidi Ladoja, Gbenga Daniel, Taoheed Adedoja and Olusegun Aderemi.
Most of the South-west aspirants protested to the PDP leadership concerning its inability to enforce micro zoning of positions zoned to the South. Under the circumstance, some of the South-west aspirants decided to reach out to the northern states for strategic alliance. Their lobby yielded fruit when a group of northern PDP elders met and took a decision to support aspirants from the South-west zone for the chairmanship contest. While the controversy over micro zoning was going on, Uche Secondus was perfecting alliance with the states in the South-east that could give him block votes. His calculations was that the zone has large number of delegates which would swing victory for him.
Secondus also relied on the enormous influence of his state governor, Nyesom Wike, to lobby to win more support for his candidacy.
The disaffection created by the failure to micro zone the position was not entirely laid to rest before the convention was held. So it was not surprising that the matter still reared its head again when on the eve of the convention of the frontline aspirants, George addressed the media announcing his withdrawal from the race.
George expressed displeasure over what he described as failure of the party and its leaders to uphold the practiced micro zoning. He also accused Governor Wike of insulting the South West by saying they have not contributed much to the PDP to warrant their insistence on occupying the national chairmanship position. Following the withdrawal of George from the race, other five aspirants from the zone followed suit by pulling out of the race as well. Although not stated, many believed that these aspirants may have been aggrieved by what they perceived as unfair treatment and decided to pull out.
Prior to voting, a list tagged ‘Unity list’ containing names of candidates said to have been endorsed by the party to win their offices, was circulated. Top on the unity list was Secondus. By the time votes were tallied in the early hours of Sunday, he had emerged the new chairman of the party