James Ibechi

OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR SAMUEL ORTOM, CHAIRMAN, PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC PARTY (PDP) ZONING COMMITTEE

Ortom

By Joseph Ode

Dear Governor Samuel Ortom,

Let me begin by congratulating you on your well-deserved appointment as the Chairman of the Zoning Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for its forthcoming National Convention.

Your appointment is well-deserved because it represents an apparent promotion from the position of Vice -Chairman of the party’s previous Zoning Committee whose input was instrumental to the success of the party’s recent National Convention which produced the Dr. Iorchia Ayu-led National Working Committee. The hitch-free, rancour-free, peaceful, free, fair and credible election of National Officers of the party at a seamless National Convention owes a lot to the quality of the recommendations of the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi Zoning Committee of which you were second-in-command.

Let me appreciate the National Leadership of the party for recognizing the contributions of that Committee, yours in particular, by elevating you to the Chairmanship of the current Zoning Committee. I am confident that you and the Committee you lead will not disappoint PDP and the Nigerian people.

My confidence is hinged as much on your track record from the recent Zoning assignment as on other qualities that have been driving you in your political career. One of them is the innate courage you possess to take decisions and positions, stand by them and defend them irrespective of whose Ox is gored. Your stance against open grazing and defence of ranching is a shining national example. Another quality of yours which gives me confidence in your ability to discharge this new assignment creditably is your belief in divine guidance in all you do. That belief which ensures equity, fairness and justice in all you think, say or do, has never failed you and I believe it will not fail you in this assignment.

In fact, even before the official commencement of this Committee work, you have already manifested your winning qualities: You promptly rejected the call on you by a faceless group called Arewa Youths Consultative Forum to resign the Committee Chairmanship for receiving Governor Nyeesom Wike of Rivers State, a Presidential aspirant, in audience in Makurdi as well as his N200m donation to Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the state. The group regards your action as conflict of interest. But, if one may ask, would shutting your door against Wike be fair to him in a season when all Presidential and other aspirants have been crisscrossing and will continue to crisscross the states to market their aspirations? Similarly, would it be fair to the suffering IDPs for you to have rejected Wike’s donation to them just because you are only the Chairman of a 37-member Committee, and not a sole administrator? Kindly put that distraction behind you and get down to work.

As the zoning Committee commences business, it would be inappropriate for a non-committee member like me to suggest particular zones where particular offices should be zoned to. The Committee, with the benefit of facts, submissions, arguments and views that would be made available to it, would be in a better position to take appropriate decisions. However, I have found it necessary to humbly offer a few suggestions or advice of a general nature as follows:

1. A decision not to zone at all, that is, to leave the relevant positions open to contest across geopolitical zones should not be an option. Such a decision would amount to abdication of responsibility by the Committee because the party’s constitution provides for zoning. Moreover, setting up the Committee would not have been necessary if all it can achieve is to come up with a no- zoning resolution.

2. The Committee should shun the temptation to accept the argument that zoning the Presidency to a particular region or geopolitical zone would stifle merit or cost the party victory at the polls. This argument is self-serving as zoning is not necessarily inconsistent with merit or leadership capability. There is no part of this country today that cannot produce a President who can rescue Nigeria from its current free fall into disaster. In fact, any decision that undermines the feelings, emotions, experiences and yearnings of the majority of the electorate across the country is a sure recipe for electoral failure. Therefore, to be effective in securing electoral victory, the zoning decision must be aimed at gaining advantage over the opposing political parties rather than assuaging intra-party interests.

3. Fairness, equity, justice and inclusiveness must be the bases for the zoning decisions to be taken by the Committee. PDP’s mantra, going into the forthcoming general elections, is to Rescue Nigeria from bad and purposeless leadership. The foundation and catalyst for good leadership are derived from a credible electoral process. For PDP, that process begins from the Zoning Committee’s assignment and builds up through the National Convention and terminating with the general elections. It is, therefore, imperative for your Committee to get it right, the way the Ugwuanyi’s Committee did in the zoning of the National Offices of the party.

Mr. Chairman, sir, as you lead your Committee members to discharge this onerous national assignment for your party, I believe you do realize that you face a similar daunting task in your home state. As PDP Governor and leader of the party in Benue state, all eyes are on you to see how you will resolve the 46-year-old aspiratiion of Benue South Senatorial District (Zone C) to occupy the position of State Governor for the first time next year. The issues involved in Benue state are similar to the ones you have been called upon by PDP to resolve at the national level: fairness, equity, justice and inclusive governance.

The qualities that earned you the call-up to national duty are the same ones you need to utilize in correcting the historical imbalance in the state’s power equation. And the principles outlined above for achieving effective zoning and power sharing in PDP at the Federal level are also applicable in your state.

It is for these reasons that the people of Benue state, especially those from Zone C, rejoice with you on this rare appointment which affords you the opportunity to make history; opportunity to create a better tomorrow for Benue state through the application of the experience garnered from the Zoning assignment.

Ode is the Director of Media and Publicity, Benue Rebirth Movement (BRM)

Categories: James Ibechi

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