Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, has reflected on the preparation for the proposed Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national convention, assuring members that the exercise will be devoid of rancour.
He noted the reaction of some Southwest PDP elders to the zoning adopted for the convention, saying the distribution of party positions reflected equity, justice, fair play and understanding of reality.
Gov. Emmanuel, who chairs the Zoning Committee, said the best interest of the party would be served through the steps taken by the committee.
The governor spoke with reporters in Lagos on activities of his administration in the last 11 months, the PDP convention, why he declined to host the convention and strategies for averting predecessor/successor crisis.
Emmanuel spoke on the heels of renewed threats by Southwest PDP elders, led by Chief Bode George, who insisted on zoning of the chairmanship to the region.
But the former deputy national chairman yesterday warned that the party might not be able to avert a parallel convention, unless the position was zoned to the Southwest.
George, who spoke with reporters in Lagos, said the non-resolution of the conflicts before the convention might weaken the party and deprive it of the strength to play its opposition role.
Stressing that a divided house is a defeated house, he added: “In its present precarious situation, if the PDP does not stabilise, there will be no alternative platform to tackle the government. The Acting Chairman, Senator Modu Sheriff, wants to renege on his promise to leave on May 21. That is one aspect of the problem.
“The position of the chairman has also been zoned to the North as if the Southwest does not matter. Some elements in the Southwest are also trying to dismantle the structure and throw away our heritage into the dustbin. You don’t zone laterally. That is why I usually say it is ‘Turn by Turn Nigeria Limited.”
George said the Ekweremadu Committee recommended zoning of the presidency to the North, wondering why the PDP Governors’ Forum also supported zoning of the chairmanship to the North.
He added: “It is sacrilegious. It is a cultural suicide for the Southwest to throw away the chairmanship. Other zones have held the position. Why not Yoruba?”
George maintained that Sheriff should vacate office, adding that his word should be his honour.
He stressed: “Sheriff should tread the path of honour. His statement brought calmness to the party when he took over. He should fulfill his promise to avoid a parallel convention. If Sheriff says he will remain as chairman, then the presidency will come to the Southwest.”
However, Udom ruled out any crisis in the PDP, saying there will be no parallel convention. He explained that the zoning committee recommended that the chairman should come from the North, based on the state of the party and prevailing reality.
The governor assured that the crisis would be resolved before the May 21 convention in the interest of the party.
He added: “We will not allow selfish interest and sentiments to derail our plan for the PDP.”
On why he declined to host the convention, Emmanuel said: “I am not in the best form to host the convention. I want to show the level of hospitality services in Akwa Ibom. I am not prepared.”