2023: No More Zoning As PDP Set To Throw Presidential Race Open, 13 Aspirants Pick Forms
Barring last-minute changes, the 37-man committee constituted by the leading opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to resolve the zoning impasse in the party is set to throw open the presidential race, Daily Trust reliably gathered.
Some members of the committee separately told our reporters that they have reached what they tagged “midcourse solution” on the matter.
The zoning impasse, Daily Trust reports had polarised the leading opposition party with pro and anti-zoning chieftains working hard to have an upper hand.
To address the situation, the party at its 95th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held on March 16, resolved to establish the zoning committee with the sole mandate of resolving the impasse.
The committee, chaired by the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has its membership drawn across the country including three sitting governors, 12 former governors, former ministers and lawmakers. Twice, the panel has met to find a way out without injuring the feelings and sensibilities of various stakeholders from the North and South.
At its Tuesday’s meeting, which lasted about three hours at the Benue State Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja, the majority of the committee members, it was gathered, pushed for the jettisoning of zoning to allow various contenders to slug it out without recourse to which part of the country they came.
‘Majority key into zero-zoning arrangement’
A member of the committee from the North said more than half of the committee members have keyed into the zero zoning arrangement to enable all aspirants to participate in the primary exercise during which a presidential candidate will emerge.
The founding member of the party, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that it has been resolved that no member of the panel should speak to the press. He said the resolution of the party would be made public after their meeting on Tuesday.
“It is too late to stop aspirants from contesting and because our ultimate goal is to win, the majority of us have agreed that the race be thrown open to all. We are going for a zero-zoning arrangement,” he said.
“The polity of today requires a national leader that is going to reinvigorate the cohesion and unity of the country. What Nigeria needs is not a zonal president, what we need is a Nigerian president. And, therefore, we are throwing it (contest) open,” he said.
The source said Ortom apologised when his neutrality was questioned over his endorsement of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and zoning of the presidency to the South.
“He apologised saying that he was misquoted. It was at this point that it was resolved that henceforth, members of the committee should not speak to the press,” he said.
While hosting Wike in Makurdi, Benue State capital, recently, Ortom had said “On southern presidency I stand.”
The claim of the founding member was corroborated by another member of the committee, who said the work of the committee was almost concluded.
“We have reached a resolution but we decided to make further consultations. We have reached a midcourse that all aspirants should ‘market’ themselves,” he said.
A southern member of the committee said the members would arrive at a conclusion next Tuesday. He said those frustrating zoning moves were those with “personal ambition” but they have been told to bury their ambition.
The source further added that all members of the zoning committee whom he described as 70 per cent original members of the party from inception were “on the same page.”
“We are looking for a mid-course solution and we are very hopeful this would be achieved on Tuesday next week,” the party leader said.
The source added: “Everybody is on the same page thinking we have to move forward. At the next meeting on Tuesday, I’m sure we will come up with a mid-course; we would have a solution to it.
“We told ourselves some serious home truth and come to a solution. We are very positive that there would be a solution. Everybody should bury his personal ambition.”
We’ll come up with acceptable position – Ortom
When contacted for a reaction on the matter, the spokesperson for Ortom, Nathaniel Ikyur, forwarded a statement to our reporter in which his boss was quoted as saying that his committee will come out with an acceptable position for all.
“All the members understand ourselves that zoning is very key and we are looking at it that at the end of it all, we will do something that everybody will accept and we will go ahead as one big family and win the 2023 elections,” he said.
Saraki, Tambuwal, Bala meet IBB on consensus
Three presidential aspirants of the PDP from the North; former Senate President Bukola Saraki; Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed yesterday met with the former Military President, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida on the need for the party to adopt a consensus candidate ahead of the party’s primaries.
The trio have been canvassing for the adoption of a presidential candidate to end the impasse in the party. Speaking, Saraki said the visit to IBB was to seek his advice and guidance on the way to go to achieve the planned consensus.
“We are here as part of our consultation going round the country talking to our leaders and stakeholders in our party, the PDP. We, the aspirants of the PDP platform deemed it fit to come and brief the former military president on what we are doing in respect of the consensus.
“We are doing this to ensure that the process is not rancorous. And we cannot do that just among the four of us. We need the support of the leaders of the party and their advice,” he said.
Responding, Babangida said he was happy with the consensus decision, which according to him would give better room for peace and unity in the country.
“I enjoyed meeting with you because I like what I heard. Your belief in the unity of this country is most paramount. Your belief in having a better Nigeria featured prominently in the course of your discussion. And you’ve made my day that all you talk about was Nigeria,” IBB said.
13 aspirants pick PDP forms
So far 13 aspirants have picked forms for the presidency on the platform of the PDP.
They are former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President Bukola Saraki and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim. Four serving governors; Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Nyesom Wike (Rivers) have also paid the N40m pegged for the presidential form.
Others are veteran journalist and publisher, Dele Momodu, Dr Nwachukwu Anakwenze, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi and a retired banker, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen.
Diana Oliver Tariela, the only female aspirant for the presidency paid N5m. (Daily Trust: Excludes headline)