After the successful conduct of its national convention, governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have unanimously agreed to throw the presidential ticket of the party open.
This will allow intending aspirants from both the North and Southern parts of the country to participate in the presidential primary slated for next year.
There was a sharp division among PDP governors on the issue of zoning of the ticket. While PDP governors from the Southern part of the country alongside their All Progressives Congress (APC) counterparts under the aegis of the Southern Governors’ Forum insisted that the presidency must shift to the South in 2023, the PDP and APC governors in the Northern Governors’ Forum rejected it, saying the position of their Southern counterparts negates the position of the constitution.
The 19 Southern governors from the APC, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and PDP at their meeting in Lagos in July had issued a communiqué where they agreed that the presidency should be zoned to Southern Nigeria in 2023 when President Muhammadu Buhari completes his second term.
The governors, who again met in Enugu in September, also reiterated their commitment towards ensuring that the major political parties complied with their resolution on zoning of the presidential ticket to the South.
Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who is the Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum, had also said any political party that fields a Northern candidate for the presidency in 2023 risks losing the support of Southerners.
In his response, Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum and governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, in an 11-point resolution of their meeting, condemned the statement by Southern Governors’ Forum that the presidency must go to the South.
“The statement is quite contradictory with the provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended that the elected president shall score the majority votes; score at least 25% of the votes cast in 2/3 states of the federation. In the case of run-up simple majority win the election”, he said.
Speaking with Daily Independent on Wednesday, a former leader in the Senate who is a chieftain of the PDP said the governors have harmonised their position and have agreed that the ticket be thrown open in order to ensure fairness and allow for the best candidate to emerge.
He said even though not all the party members agreed that the ticket be thrown open, majority of the members, led by the governors believe that it is the right thing to do.
“There is no controversy among PDP on the position of where the presidential candidate of the party will come from in 2023. That has been resolved and the position is that the ticket will be thrown open to all aspirants so that the best candidate will emerge and no region will feel shortchanged that they are excluded from participating, which would have happened if the ticket is zoned.
“We have some members who are saying that since the North has produced the chairman, then the presidency should automatically come to the South. But those canvassing this argument are in the minority while those who want it thrown open are in the majority. Like they say, in democracy, the minority will have their say while the majority will have their way”, he said.
Prior to now, there were rumours that the PDP leadership had concluded plans to zone the presidential ticket to the North while the South will produce the national chairman of the party.
However, the calculations changed few days to the national convention. Iyorchia Ayu, a former Senate President from Benue State, North-Central part of the country, was elected as national chairman.
Also speaking in an interview monitored by Daily Independent, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State said there is great wisdom in throwing the ticket open to all aspirants instead of zoning it to any particular region.
Fintiri, who was the chairman of the PDP Convention Committee, said zoning is not the problem of Nigeria today but getting a credible candidate from anywhere in the country who can unite the people and improve security and economic life of the nation.
“I saw wisdom if the PDP ticket will be thrown open because the problem of Nigeria today is not about zoning. It is for us to look for a credible candidate, anywhere that person comes from, irrespective of his religion or tribe.
“What Nigerians are after today is to have a good leader that will be able to deliver on our economy and security. A good leader that will impact on human development and one that will be able to deploy the kind of infrastructure that we will need in this country that can roll out the economy properly so that this country can take its position in the comity of nations”.