The agitation for a Nigerian president of Southeast extraction in 2023 has suffered a major setback as the zoning committee of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) contrary to the expectation of its southern members, has recommended an open race for the party’s 2023 presidential ticket.
The party’s 37-person zoning committee, which took the decision at the Benue State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, on Tuesday, cited ‘exigency of time’ for its recommendation.
The committee based its recommendation on the high voter turnout in the North and the party’s determination to return to power in 2023.
The committee, in a leaked document According to a leaked document, noted that while zoning was affirmed in the party’s constitution, exigencies of time made it to dump the arrangement.
But justifying its decision, the PDP committee, in the document titled, “Recommendations of PDP Zoning Committee,” said “ Zoning, as in our party constitution, is affirmed. In spite of the above, the ticket is thrown open, this time around due to the exigency of the time.
“Our party is encouraged to always make the issue of zoning very clear at least six months before sales of forms.
“Our party should commend the efforts of some of our contestants on the issue of consensus candidacy; the efforts should be seen to a peaceful and logical conclusion.”
On March 16, the party’s National Executive Committee, at its 95th meeting, instituted a 37-man committee comprising members from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory to recommend a zoning formula for the various electoral offices ahead of next year’s polls.
Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, said, “By the grace of God, we have unanimously adopted a position that will be sent to the NEC of our party that appointed us.
“The good news for teaming supporters of the PDP and Nigerians is that we have resolved and every one of us – the 37 members – unanimously adopted the position that we are going to present to NEC.”
The PDP zoned its presidential ticket to the north during the 2019 general elections.
The party argued that the zone still had an uncompleted tenure following the demise of former President Umaru Yar’Adua, on May 5, 2010, who only served for two years and 11 months.
Consequently, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar emerged presidential candidate at the 2018 primaries held in Port Harcourt.
In a related development, the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, has resigned his membership in the zoning committee.
In a letter addressed to Governor Ortom before the commencement of Tuesday’s meeting, Fayose argued that his status as a presidential aspirant in the PDP disqualified him to seat on the committee.
In attendance were Governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Darius Ishaku of Taraba, former Deputy National Chairman, Bode George; former governors Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna), Boni Haruna (Adamawa), Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Ibrahim Shema (Katsina).
Others include former Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations, Tanimu Turaki; Information Minister, Prof. Jerry Gana, and Chairman, PDP Disciplinary Committee, Tom Ikimi, among others.