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Ahead of its national convention, the All Progressives Congress (APC) convention committee has endorsed a proposal zoning the chairmanship slot to aspirants from the South-south zone.
The report of the convention sub-committee on zoning has also narrowed down the zoning of the national secretary position to either the North-east or the North-west as at Tuesday night.
THISDAY gathered that from a reliable source at the meeting of the national convention committee that members had come under considerable pressure from power brokers in the party seeking to influence the zoning structure.
Speaking on the decision to zone party chairman to South-south, the source said it was done for strategic reasons to break into the stronghold of President GoodLuck Jonathan.
“Choosing the South- south to produce the next APC national chairman is party of a political strategy to strengthen the party’s position in the region as prelude to other strategic moves to wear-down PDP’s influence in the area, he said.
Under the latest zoning structure contained in the committee’s report, the South-west is to produce the Organising Secretary, having conceded the chairman’s office to the South-south while the North- central is expected to retain the office of the national publicity secretary.
It was learnt that the move to zone the position of Organising Secretary to South-west is breeding conflict as the South-east is said to be interested in holding on to the position.
Some of the APC convention committee members had confessed to THISDAY yesterday that they are under considerable pressure by politicians seeking to sway decisions on the issue of zoning.
According to him, all positions are important since all are members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
So far, a number of aspirants from South-south had emerged from the party chairmanship position.
They include, ex-governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, former Bayelsa State governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, Chief Sam Jaja from Rivers State and Chief Tom Ikimi.
However, permutations continued to favour Oyegun, and former Bayelsa State governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, as likely favourites for the post of national chairman, THISDAY has learnt.
Also there were indications that the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai, is being drafted to take the position of national secretary at the June 13 convention in Abuja.
THISDAY gathered that those rooting for Sylva were APC governors, who are believed to wield a lot of influence in the party at the moment.
While Sylva, 49, is said to be backed mainly by the northern governors, the candidacy of Oyegun, 74, is allegedly pushed by some South-west governors aligned with national leader of APC and former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu.
A close associate of one of the northern governors, who preferred anonymity, had told THISDAY that the former Bayelsa State governor was being tipped for the job because he would help to neutralise President Jonathan’s support in his home state.
Though, Oyegun had long been mentioned among stakeholders as preferred against fellow Edo man, Tom Ikimi, a former external affairs minister, in the race for the APC chairmanship, he had hitherto been thought to have only an outside chance of becoming the party’s national chairman.
Accordingly, the APC convention committee are to find a common ground over the tussle between members from the north-west and north-east over who occupies the national secretary seat.
According to a party stakeholder who is apparently in support of the national secretary seat going to the north west, it will be a misconception to think that the position of national secretary has been zoned to the north-east.
He said consultations are ongoing to resolve the contention over whether the position of the national secretary should remain in the North-east zone or moved to the North- west.
However, it was learnt that the sub-committee of the national convention committee had no problem dealing with issues on the zoning arrangement for all other party offices and is merely fine-tuning it’s report as at yesterday.
For the South-east chapter of APC, the leaders of the zone appears to have given up hope on competing for top positions during the convention.
THISDAY learnt reason why the South-east has suddenly developed cold feet is because of the ambitions of a national leader of the APC’s only governor in the zone, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha who has declared his interest in seeking for either the presidential or vice presidential tickets.
A close associate of the governor who confided in THISDAY said the South- east is playing a strategic card and would not want to compromise its aspirant to produce the next APC presidential candidate.
Meanwhile, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will today hold a National Executive Committee (NEC) to approve the midterm convention slated to hold tentatively on June 14.
Already, the PDP Board of Trustee (BoT) and the National Caucus of the party took place approving that the midterm convention should hold June 14, but the National Working Committee (NWC) led by the national chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, are still holding meeting at the party’s secreatriat alternate office of PDP considering the June 14 date for the midterm national convention.
This is because the APC is billed to hold its national convention on June 13 and the next day, the PDP is expected to hold its midterm convention.
It was gathered the security apparatchik of President Goodluck Jonathan are not favourably disposed with the proximity of the dates of the two national conventions of APC and the PDP.
It was gathered that with the holding of the national midterm convention of the PDP, it would set the motion for the eventual declaration of President Jonathan for a second term in office. THISDAY gathered that the main objective of the midterm national convention passing a vote of confidence on the national leadership of the party, it was an opportunity for the President to discuss his second term presidential ambition with the party’s BoT and the National Caucus.
The midterm convention is expected to formally ratify the appointment of Adamu Muazu who assumed office as the national chairman of PDP on January 15 2014.
The June 14 date would either be approved or another date fixed.