Last week, the Governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) met to review the recommendations of the Zoning Committee headed by the Governor of Enugu State, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyin.
It turned out that the governors reversed the positions currently occupied by the Northern candidates to move Southwards and did the same to positions occupied by Southern candidates.
That development ensured that key positions like the National Chairman, Deputy National Chairman, the National Secretary, and National Legal Adviser would swap positions between the two regions.
Sources in the party have, however, provided details of how the swap was activated by PDP Governors from the South led by the Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde.
It was gathered that Makinde and other governors from the South had been inundated with allegations that they were only paying lip service to the resolutions of the Southern Governors’ Forum, which ratified the call for the South to produce the next Nigerian President in 2023.
Besides, it was learnt that some sources have specifically accused Makinde of possibly working against the interest of the South West and Southern Nigeria by seeking to align as a running mate to a Northern candidate in the 2023 election.
It, however, emerged that Makinde, Ugwuanyin, and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State were at the forefront of the push to get the chairmanship zoned to the North.
A source said: “When the meeting started, Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State opened discussions and stated that there were three positions opened to them.
“The options include whether to retain the current executive; swap the positions between North and South or sack existing executive and throw all positions open.
Governor Makinde who was said to have spoken next was said to have declared that he would prefer the second option which would be to swap the positions between the North and South.
“An argument then ensued between Makinde and Ishaku as Ishaku argued questioned why the Governor of Oyo State didn’t opt for another option, rather than the option two.
“Makinde replied sharply that the Taraba helmsman should say what favours him and that he (Makinde)has spoken the minds of his own people.”
Sources also said that the Governors of Akwa- Ibom, Edo, and Rivers were later to speak along the line toed by Makinde and that in a jiffy the decision was made that the posts should be swapped between North and South.
Another source coose to the governors said that many Southern Governors have been touched by sarcastic comments made by some politicians who had tagged their request for a Southerner as President in 2023 as a huge fluke.
Some had even specifically tagged Makinde as working against the South West interest by allegedly pushing for Zone to present the next PDP Chairman, a development that would have ruled the South out of the 2023 presidential race.
A top party leader who met with Makinde a day after the meeting of the Governors, however, told the newspaper that the Oyo State helmsman had to spearhead the push for a swap of the party’s positions to put a lie to the insinuations that he was working against Southern interest.
The source said: “I can confirm to you that Makinde and his Southern colleagues were not unmindful of that unusual appellation some people were wrongly pinning on them that they might be working against Southern interest. So he spearheaded the push. In fact, the governors went to that meeting determined to correct the wrong impressions and everything went well.”
The source, however, said that the push for which zone gets what is the next battle line the governors have to cross.
Sources also confirmed that in the aftermath of the meeting, some governors met with former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to explain to him the reasons for the development.
A source specifically stated that the governors, mainly from the South had explained to the former number two that the decision. had to be taken in line with the decision of the Southern Governors which had earlier affirmed power shift in 2023.
“They told him that the decision was not targeted at any of the Northern chieftains of the party but to reassure every part of Nigeria that all was well with the federation.
“Atiku on his own part assured the governors that he as a Democrat will respect the decision of the party.”