As the race for the 2023 presidency gains momentum, the coast is becoming clearer that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will zone its presidential ticket to the north and its party chieftain from the South.
While there are unconfirmed reports that the embattled national chairman of the party Prince Uche Secondus may also go for another term, media reports suggest that some members of the PDP in the South-West are plotting to provide his successor.
A group, Alliance for PDP South-West, came up with a list of 11 party chieftains from the South-West for the national chairmanship position of the party. On the list are a former Osun State Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; former PDP Deputy National Chairman, Chief Olabode George; and former Ekiti State governors, Ayo Fayose, and Segun Oni.
Others are a former Lagos State PDP governorship candidate, Mr Jimi Agbaje; former PDP National Secretary, Prof Wale Oladipo; former Ondo State PDP governorship candidate, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN); Dr Charles Akitoye; Mr Jide Adeniji; Mr Olusola Ebiseni; and Senator Bode Olajumoke.
However, the national publicity secretary of the PDP, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said that the party is yet to take a stand and will start deliberating on the issue of zoning next week. Leading the quest for the PDP presidential ticket are northern politicians such as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former Senate President Bukola Saraki; former House of Representatives Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal and governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed.
Basically, while politicians angling for the national chairmanship are from the southern part of the country, in the north, the debate and lobby over the specifically geo-political region should get the presidential ticket of the party, while some have campaigned for the party ticket to go to the North-East, others have canvassed that the party ticket should be microzoned to the North-Central in the spirit of justice, equity, and fair play.
At the moment, stakeholders in the party seem to have made up their minds not to field Atiku again. They believe he has become a serial aspirant and has contested consecutively since 2007. Many of them also believe that he abandoned the party immediately after he lost the 2019 elections and travelled out of the country.
They noted that he did not even attend the court sessions during the hearing of the election petitions filed on his loss of the election by both the tribunal and the appellate courts. They argued that if he had provided leadership, the party would be more vibrant, not be in the crisis, and would have not lost some of its key members. Also, with his age, they feel he does not meet the requirements set by former Nigerian military President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida that have gained traction with politicians on all sides of the political divides.
To these PDP members, only the North-Central has not had the privilege of producing the presidential candidate of the party while the North-West (Yar’adua) and Atiku Abubakar (North- East) have done so.
But Ologbondiyan noted that the party had not zoned its presidential ticket to the north. He said, “No, we have not zoned it to the north. The party has not reached that stage. We are going to have the National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting on September 9.
‘’At that NEC we will compose a committee on the zoning of party offices. That is when the party will discuss zoning. The issue of zoning the presidency has not come up at all. Ours is a structural party. We take issues one after the other.’’
It would be recalled that during its 92nd National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting the party had announced that it will arrive at a zoning formula for the National Working Committee (NWC) at a meeting billed for September 9. This comes as the struggle for political power among the political gladiators hots up ahead of the party’s national convention slated for October 30 and 31.
A former national chairmanship aspirant of the PDP, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, insisted that only a northerner can win the 2023 presidential election for PDP. He said that PDP members canvassing for the south to get the ticket are in line with the All Progressives Congress (APC) whose members are agitating for a southern president after Buhari’s tenure ends in 2023.
According to him, “I can tell you that unless there is a candidate from the North, in my own considered opinion, the PDP will not stand a chance of winning the election. On the ambition of those from the south who are today asking for the presidency to be zoned to the south, I can say that they are only echoing what prevails in the APC.’’
Also, a former national legal adviser of the party, Mark Jacob said the PDP has not zoned its presidential ticket to the northern part of the country.
Jacob, who is a former Attorney General and commissioner of Justice in Kaduna State said, “Nobody has discussed anything on zoning in our party. We have not zoned our party presidential ticket to the north. In fact, the feeling among members is that it should be zoned to the southern part of the country.”
Citing internal rumbling that was recently witnessed in the party was due to the failure of the present National Working Committee (NWC) to carry out its responsibility as an opposition political party effectively, it would be recalled that Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, said the NWC of the PDP cannot lead the party to victory in the 2023 general elections and called for a replacement of the leadership.
Wike maintained that the PDP remains the only credible alternative party that Nigerians are expecting to take over power in 2023, given the poor performance of the ruling APC.
To achieve the party’s dreams and be a strong contender during the 2023 presidential elections, many optimistic minds believe that the party should consider Saraki who is a vibrant, competent, capable, capacity and courageous aspirant.