From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
There are strong indications that the Southeast may have lost out in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) power sharing in the 2023 general elections.
Sunday Sun gathered that though the PDP is yet to make an official pronouncement on the zoning of offices, current permutations in the opposition party does not favour the Southeast producing any of the four topmost elective positions in the country, if the party wins the 2023 polls.
The Southeast’s quest to produce the 2023 PDP presidential candidate collapsed after former Vice President Atiku Abubakar clinched the party’s ticket.
The zone also lost out in the tussle for the vice presidential ticket, as Atiku chose Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, from the South-south, as his running mate.
Sunday Sun gathered that though some party bigwigs, prior to the convention, had canvassed that the Senate Presidency, being the next highest elective office should automatically go the Southeast, in the event that the zone fails to get either the presidential or vice presidential ticket.
But, multiple sources in the party confided in Sunday Sun that the Senate president position may have been ceded to the Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, as compensation for his role in the emergence of the former vice president as PDP 2023 presidential standard bearer, in the event that he wins a senatorial seat in next year’s elections.
Tambuwal, who had withdrawn from the contest for the PDP ticket paving way for Atiku’s victory at the party’s national convention, is the party’s candidate for Sokoto South Senatorial District.
Sunday Sun also learnt that it is unlikely that the Southeast will get the Speakership of the House of Representatives, if the PDP forms the majority in the Green Chamber, as the Southwest is also making a strong bid for the position.
However, in recent times, members of the House of Representatives are known not to comply strictly with political parties zoning in their choice of Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
It would be recalled that in 2011 and 2015, members of the House jettisoned the zoning of offices by the PDP and APC respectively, in choosing their presiding officers.
Already, ranking members from the South-south are already positioning themselves for the Speakership seat irrespective of whatever decision the party may come up with in terms of zoning. While on the flipside, the Southeast has few ranking members, who are re-contesting to return to the Green Chamber, as most of them either did not get party nominations or opted for other elective positions.
A top party source from the Southeast, who does not want his name on print, told Sunday Sun that the most likely office that would come to the zone, if the PDP wins the 2023 elections, is the position of national chairman of the party.
The source, who is also a member of the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC), added that though ordinarily the Southeast has a high chance of producing the Speaker, the fact that Okowa, an Igbo from the South-south, may be a drawback to that possibility.
His words: “We (geo-political zones in the South) have to share whatever comes to the South. The vice president is an Igbo man; don’t forget that. So, any major thing coming to the South, the Southwest will indicate interest.
“Maybe Speaker may come to Southeast. But the most likely thing for the Southeast to produce is the national chairman. The national chairman of a ruling party is actually the most powerful position in government.»
However, a source close to the PDP presidential candidate said that Atiku and the party leadership are careful not to talk about what position would go to each zone for now, until after the general election.
According to him, “they are saying that they will not mention positions that will go to the zones, until after the election. So that we can go to the election with minimal frictions.”
He added that unlike in the past, the PDP would enforce zoning of National Assembly leadership, if it wins the 2023 general elections, noting that “Atiku is not your run of the mill person. If the party takes a position on zoning and you are going against it, there would be consequences. Once the party gets majority, the caucus will decide on how things will go. That is all.”
Meanwhile, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, had repeatedly said that the opposition party would give every part of the country a sense of belonging if it wins the 2023 general elections.