Ahead of today’s strategic meeting of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders from the North, former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje has declared that the North Central zone will vie for the party’s 2023 presidential ticket regardless of which geo-political zone produces the next party national chairman.
Baraje, a known ally of former Senate President and 2023 presidential hopeful, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, made the call against the backdrop of moves by PDP Northerner leaders to choose a likely consensus candidate today.
Recall that the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC) zoned the national chairmanship to the North, raising the prospect of a Southern presidential candidate in 2023. So far some top contenders for the chairmanship seat from the North include, former Senate president, Sen David Mark; former minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana; former governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo and former governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema.
But Baraje, in a statement in Abuja yesterday, noted that the North Central zone will follow to the letter the earlier declaration of the National Executive Committee (NEC).
The party chieftain noted that the North Central geo-political zone will vie for the presidency under the platform of the party, adding that it has, so far, produced five national chairmen already for the party while the North West zone is yet to produce a substantive national chairman.
He asked the PDP stakeholders to sustain the tradition of justice, equity, and fairness within the party by ensuring that the North West zone presents 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 Sen. 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 zones 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. Leaders must act in the best interest of the party and the nation. Anything short of that is courting needless crisis”, Baraje stated.