Two zones in the southern part of the country, South-West and South-South, are in the race to produce the next national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, investigations by our correspondent have revealed.
No member of the party in the other zone in the region, the South-East, is said to have expressed any interest in producing the national chairman of the main opposition party.
It will be recalled that the decision to zone the office to the southern part of the country was reached at the party’s expanded national caucus meeting in Abuja 10 days ago.
The caucus also reaffirmed the zoning of the party’s presidential ticket to the northern part of the country.
Our correspondent gathered that the South-East opted out of the race because it had produced two national chairmen of the party in the past.
They were Prince Vincent Ogbulafor and Dr. Okwesileze Nwodo.
The other two zones have yet to produce any substantive chairman, but the South-South had produced Prince Uche Secondus as acting national chairman.
Investigations by our correspondent however showed that two persons from Rivers State are showing interest in the race.
They are a former Deputy Speaker in the State House of Assembly, Mr. Austin Opara and Secondus.
Sedondus, a close ally of the State Governor, Mr. Nyeson Wike, is also said to have the support of the other four governors from the zone.
He was already backed to emerge as the deputy national chairman of the party from the zone during the botched national convention which was originally scheduled to elect national officers of the party.
The convention was held in Port-Hacourt on May 21, but without election of national officers.
Popularly called “Total”, Secondus is said to have the support of majority of the governors, even outside the zone.
A source close to Wike said that the governor would be happy if given the choice to present a candidate for the position from his state.
“While other governors are sceptical of producing the chairman from their states, Wike is not. He actually wants to produce the occupier of the office and that could be the reason why he has chosen to host the next national convention again,” the source added.
It was also gathered that Opara may be the governor’s joker in case his colleagues insist on fresh set of officers at the party’s national secretariat.
Sedondus was part of the last National Working Committee of the party where he served as deputy national chairman.
His loyalty to the party is also said to be working for him.
Unlike the factional National Chairman of the party, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, who called off the convention, Secondus played a major role in making the convention hold with his presence as he was the one that declared it open.
It was also gathered that media mogul, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, has also shown interest in the office.
Dokpesi, who was part of the PDP Rescue Group, played a major role with former ministers and others in making sure that Sheriff was eased out of office.
Unconfirmed reports had it that he had already submitted a letter of intent to the party on his ambition.
In the South-West, it was gathered that both Chief Bode George and Prof. Tunde Adeniran have shown interest in the race.
George, a former military administrator of Ondo State, was also a former deputy national chairman of the party.
He is from Lagos State.
Adeniran, who once attempted to become the national secretary of the party, was a former minister of education.
He hails from Ekiti State.
Both men were said to have divided the party from the zone.
While some believed that Adeniran does not have a faction in the party from the zone, others say he has no experience in party management.
George who has experience in management of political party, is also being accused of belonging to a faction of the party in his home state.
A former Minister of Transportation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, however told our correspondent that members of the party in the zone would be working for George.
He said that a delegation from the South-West would be meeting with the national caretaker committee in Abuja soon to inform them about their support for George’s ambition.
Babatope also said that it would be wrong for the South-South to want to field a candidate for the position of the national chairman when it just produced the president.
He said, “We are fielding George for the race and we are visiting members of the national caretaker committee on Friday to openly say this.
“It will not be good for the South-South to still show interest in the race when the zone has just produced the president of the country from our party.”
It was however gathered that Adeniran has started sending text messages to his supporters to express his interest in the race.
George, in an interview with our correspondent, confirmed his interest in the race.
He said having served the party at various levels since 1998, he was prepared to lead it out of its present crisis.
He said, “In terms of experience and political exposure, I’m capable of leading the party and I’m ready to submit myself for election. The party is in an interim stormy water and it needs an experienced captain to take it to the harbour. Don’t forget that I’m also a permanent member of the Board of Trustees of the party.
“But we are waiting for the zoning committee to finish its job before I fully commence my campaign. Already, we are reaching out to all zones on the need to support the South-West to lead the party.
“This is because, we have never be given the opportunity of leading the party for the last 17 years.”
It is however not clear who among the candidates from the South-West will have the support of the two governors.
During the last botched convention, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State rooted for Sheriff before the two of them fell apart due to politics.