- Category: Politics
- Published on Wednesday, 04 May 2011 08:42
- Written by Admin
- Hits: 881
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) formula for the zoning of top political offices, beginning with the Presidency of the Senate, was at the centre of talks that commenced at the Obudu Cattle Ranch in Cross River State yesterday between President Goodluck Jonathan and national leaders of the party. The composition of a new federal cabinet will also be discussed following the president’s victory in last month’s elections.
Already, a clamour is on by the North East geopolitical zone to clinch the Senate Presidency in the new arrangement. The North East caucus, backed by other Northern zones, is insisting on a change since the current formula was adopted when President Umaru Yar’adua emerged as leader in 2007. Several Northern PDP groups have also said they oppose a rumoured agreement between President Jonathan and outgoing Senate President David Mark to retain the latter in his position.
Reliable sources told Daily Trust in Abuja yesterday that PDP’s Acting National Chairman Dr Bello Haliru Mohammed left Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at 11:45 am yesterday for Obudu Cattle Ranch on the invitation of the President.
Daily Trust gathered that the PDP leaders’ meeting with President Jonathan will focus on how the party will ensure that key political offices such as Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Deputy Senate President, and Deputy Speaker of the House as well as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), among others, are zoned to the six geo-political zones in a way as to reflect the principle of federal character as enshrined in the constitution in order to strengthen the country’s unity.
In accordance with the practice in the party since 1999, the positions will be distributed among the geopolitical zones of the country in line with the zoning principle after the emergence of the president and vice president, a member of the party’s Board of Trustees who does not want his name in print told Daily Trust yesterday.
According to him, the party’s BOT and national caucus will deliberate on the distribution of the key offices as soon as Mr. President who is currently on a one week vacation at the Obudu Ranch Resort returns to Abuja. He said after the meetings, the matter will be presented to the party’s NEC for approval before the new government is inaugurated.
Similarly, it was learnt that the party’s leadership would be briefed on the strategy to be adopted in the composition of a new federal cabinet. Already, politicians who are interested in some of the key positions to be available in the National Assembly and in the federal cabinet have commenced intense lobby, first to make sure that the position they are interested in is zoned to their area, especially with regard to the leadership of the National Assembly.
Reliable sources told Daily Trust yesterday that incumbent Senate President David Mark, who is still interested in occupying the office after the end of the tenure of current National Assembly, had a close-door meeting with Dr. Bello Mohamed on Monday night.
But his position is being threatened by a strong lobby group from the north east which has made a case that the region is lagging behind in representation at the federal level. Besides, a powerful bloc in the north central, where Mark hails from, has been lobbying to secure the position of SGF. If captured in the calculations, it may give the North East some advantage in clinching the senate presidency because the two may not be zoned to the same region.
One issue also expected to be discussed in Obudu is the composition of the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC) and National Working Committee (NWC) to reflect the party’s zoning arrangements since the tenure of the current executive is expected to terminate by 2012. Following the exit of Chief Ekwesilieze Nwodo, the deputy national chairman Dr. Bello Mohammed, from the North West, has been acting as national chairman with Abubakar Baraje, from the north central, as national secretary. Going by the tradition of the party, the moment the PDP National Chairman emerges from the North, the National Secretary will go back to the South in line with the party’s internal zoning formula. It is not known whether Haliru will retain the seat in the new equation that is to come up.
PDP’s National Legal Adviser Chief Olusola Oke had in an exclusive interview given indications that the party may alter the subsisting zoning and rotation of elective key offices. Oke said the prevailing circumstances at the time when the current zoning arrangement was done has changed ‘considerably’, suggesting that the party may tinker with its existing internal arrangement on zoning and rotation of elective offices in government circle and within the party’s ambit following the victory of President Jonathan.
He however stated that the party’s decision on zoning will be done with recourse to the need for the unity of the country and in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, particularly as it relates to federal character. (Daily Trust)