News

March 20, 2022

2023: Atiku complicates zoning in PDP

Atiku lauds Tambuwal for supporting his presidential bid

Atiku Abubakar

.

•Official on the second C’tte: Party postponing what already agreed

•Spokesperson: New body will decide our position

By Dirisu Yakubu

Indications have emerged that the purchase of presidential expression of interest and nomination forms for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar may have complicated issues around the zoning of the 2023 presidential slot in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.   

Before last Wednesday’s purchase of forms for the former number, two-man by a group, North-East Business Forum, the party was battling with agitations for the ticket to be zoned to southern Nigeria.

The South, which comprises the South-East, South-South and South-West, had, long before now, maintained that the region must produce the next President after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.

So intense is the agitation that it has taken a bipartisan outlook as governors of southern extraction also shared the opinion. 

The governors, under the auspices of the Southern Governors Forum, SGF, had severally insisted it is the turn of the South to produce the next President.

While the All Progressives Congress, APC, seems to have keyed into the call for the southern presidency, the PDP is facing an uphill task. 

With the purchase of the forms, it seems the agitations by major ethnic and power blocs in southern Nigeria may not materialize in PDP.

Already, a fresh crisis is brewing in the party over the matter ahead of its presidential primary slated for May. 

Leaders of the party, made up of two governors of southern extraction, are said to be growing weary of the imminent submission of a report on zoning by a committee set up for that purpose.

The party had, last Wednesday, set up a committee on zoning, which is expected to submit its report after two weeks.

State chapters of the party, including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, are expected to nominate one person each into the committee after which a leader would be named. 

Their mandate,  Sunday Vanguard learned, is to advise the party on where to zone key offices including the presidency.

But the party’s decision to sell forms including presidential nomination forms to anyone from any zone has increased suspicions that the race would eventually be thrown open in the next few days.

The party had commenced the sale of forms last Wednesday, with Atiku being among the first presidential hopefuls to purchase the forms.

Barely 24 hours after it opened its doors for the sale of the forms to aspirants for all positions, Atiku picked his.

Forms

He had picked the presidential expression of interest form at N5 million and the nomination form at N35 million.

The development, it was learned, is not going down well with proponents of the southern presidency, who said the party ought not to have commenced the sale of presidential forms when its position on zoning is still not clear.

Multiple party sources told this newspaper that while PDP would not oppose anyone purchasing forms for whatever office, its presidential ticket would not be narrowed to one region.

One of the sources told Sunday Vanguard that putting in place a zoning committee amounted to “postponing what had already been agreed upon.” 

He added: “There will be no decision on zoning. The decision to set up a zoning committee is an afterthought. It is right to say there will be no zoning because forms are being sold already. There is no refund of money after payment. The committee, like the Bala Mohammed committee, will simply recommend that every eligible Nigerian interested in contesting for the office of the President be allowed to do so.”

Also Read:

2023: Come and save Nigerian democracy, unity, diaspora group writes Atiku

Statement

Speaking to  Sunday Vanguard,  National Publicity Secretary of the party, Debo Ologunagba, however, noted that until the committee submits its report, the PDP would not make a definite statement on zoning.

His words:” The PDP is a party of procedures and processes. It is a party of the people, by the people and for the people. Zoning is an issue we cannot run away from and that is why the leadership of the PDP in its wisdom set up a committee last week to look at issues dispassionately and make a recommendation to the party.

“Let’s not preempt what they will come up with. The All Progressives Congress, APC, should mind its business and focus on the internal crisis now threatening the party’s very existence rather than getting fixated on where the PDP will pick its Presidential candidate from.”

Timetable

Having released its timetable for the 2023 elections, the PDP is facing an uphill task in taking a firm decision on zoning, given the insistence of some chieftains that the presidential ticket is zoned to the South. 

Thus, when party leaders converged for its 95th National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting recently in Abuja, it was expected to reveal its position on zoning. 

But the NEC only came up with approval for the setting up of a 37-man committee to make a recommendation on zoning. 

In 2020, the leadership of the party had set up a 45-man committee headed by Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State to review its performance in the 2019 general election and make recommendations on the way forward.

The committee, at the end of its sitting, recommended that the presidential ticket be left open to all eligible Nigerians within its fold. 

But the recommendation did not go down well with some party stalwarts particularly Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his Akwa Ibom counterpart, Udom Emmanuel, both of whom urged the North to throw its weight behind the South. 

But the party left little to the imagination with the events of last Wednesday.

Meanwhile, some PDP stakeholders of southern extraction, this medium gathered, have resolved to resist any attempt to “deny” the South the presidential ticket.

A party official working for the presidential aspiration of former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, who pleaded anonymity, said: “South-East is the only zone that should genuinely lay claim to the PDP ticket because we have always walked with the party. Already, there are fears some shady deals are taking place but the South won’t fold its hands this time.”

Meanwhile, Sunday Vanguard learned an unnamed southern governor is considering organizing a mass protest to the PDP headquarters to press home the desire for the region to produce the next President. 

“There should be a reward for loyalty. People who dumped PDP when it was going through challenges should be told that their likes are anti-party elements. They should be told the ticket is not for the highest bidder,” a source said.

Vanguard News Nigeria

Exit mobile version