**To present candidate chairmanship candidate at Wednesday’s enlarged northern meeting
*We want North-Central to produce president, not chairman – Baraje
By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor
DISTURBED by the high number of aspirants from the zone eyeing the national chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, leaders of the party from North-Central met last night (Tuesday) at Benue Lodge, Abuja.
The meeting was on-going at press time. Sources said the meeting, at the instance of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, is to prune down the number of chairmanship aspirants from the zone to one. The aspirant, so chosen, will compete with two others from North-East and North-West at an enlarged Northern PDP leaders gathering on Wednesday.
Among those from the North-Central jostling for the PDP chairmanship are Professor Jerry Gana, former Senate Presidents David Mark and Iyorchia, and former Kogi State Governor Ibrahim Idris, and former Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu.
Ayu is said to enjoy the backing of Governor Ortom and some PDP governors. It is believed that Plateau, Niger and Nasarawa may support Gana. Kwara and Kogi are yet to decide as they are torn between supporting their son of the soil, Ibrahim Idris and Jerry Gana.
But for what a source described as ”poor consultation” among others the Ayu candidacy would sail through.
The Ayu candidacy ran into troubled waters because ”those who shored up his candidacy started with the mischief of colluding with the South to impose a chairman of northern extraction on the PDP. Key North-Central leaders like BoT chair, Senator Walid Jubrin, Senator Jonah Jang, Lt. General Jerry Useni and others feel they were not consulted before Ortom and others tried to impose Ayu from the North-Central,” the source added.
Barring further changes, the Wednesday meeting may see Ibrahim Shema as North-West choice; Ibrahim Dankwambo as North-East candidate and Jerry Gana as North-Central candidate. One of the trio is expected to be chosen as consensus chairmanship candidate of the North.
We want North-Central to produce president, not Chairman – Baraje
Meanwhile, former National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, has said that whether or not the North-Central gets the nod to produce the national chairman of the party, qualified sons, and daughters of the North Central zone will vie for the 2023 PDP presidential ticket.
In a statement, Baraje said that the North-Central zone will follow to the letter the earlier declaration of the National Executive Committee, NEC, that zoning of party offices will not affect who flies the party’s flags for various elective offices.
He noted that the people of the zone aspire to produce the next President of Nigeria and that it has produced five national chairmen already for the party while there is a zone in the North that is yet to produce a substantive national chairman.
He also advised that the PDP should sustain its tradition of justice, equity, and fairness by ensuring that the zone, which has not produced a substantive national chairman in the North, is allowed to present a solid candidate capable of leading the party to victory in the next election.
He added that the North-Central has produced five national chairmen in the 23-year history of the PDP while the North East has produced two. The North West has produced only one interim chairman and a caretaker chairman.
“From late Chief Solomon Lar, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Dr. Ahmadu Alli, Chief Barnabas Gemade, and myself, all of us from North-Central have led the party at different times. Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and Alhaji Adamu Muazu from North-East have emerged as national chairman while Dr. Haliru Bello spent only one year as acting chairman with Senator Ahmed Makarfi serving as caretaker chairman. With this history, in the spirit of fairness and equity, the North-West is most suitable to produce the next chairman.
“We have noted that some leaders outside the North-Central zone are scheming and exerting a lot of energy to push the national chairmanship position to the North-Central Zone to ensure that the post is not in their zone. If the chairman eventually comes from the North-Central Zone, it is just an extra for us. Presidential aspirants from the zone will still vie for the post.
“Let it be noted that it is our position in the North-Central zone that we stand by the earlier announcement by the party leadership that the presidential ticket will be free for all qualified aspirants to seek. We believe the party should respect its publicly declared position.
“It is not in the interest of the party for leaders to impose their will on the people. Leaders must consult widely and ensure that their decisions reflect the will and aspiration of the people on any issue. The issue of how we source the leadership of our party and who flies the flag of the party in the general election should reflect the wishes and aspirations of the people.”