Ahead of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), top shots of the party including governors, presidential aspirants and others are in last-minute lobbying for the council’s decision on zoning to favour them.
The party’s committee on zoning chaired by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State had last week recommended the zoning of the national chairmanship to the North.
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The recommendation is expected to be ratified at Thursday’s meeting.
But multiple sources in the party said northern governors and presidential aspirants from the region including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki and former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, are pushing for the opening of the presidential ticket to all the zones.
A sharp crack has been created in the party since the zoning of the chairmanship to the North. It was gathered that PDP governors from the South led by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and Seyi Makinde of Oyo State pushed for the zoning of the chairmanship to North.
The move is aimed at paving the way for the emergence of a southern candidate as the party’s presidential candidate. The southern governors are demanding that the next president of the country must come from their region.
A source close to one of the aspirants, however, said the North will ensure that the presidential ticket is open to all interested candidates.
“We will push the NEC to open the presidential ticket to all zones. If we are able to achieve this, a top candidate will be presented and we will join forces with him to pick the ticket,” he said.
A member of the party from Kaduna said it is either the recommendation of the zoning committee is jettisoned or the presidential ticket is left open to all.
Featuring in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service, Lamido faulted the position of the southern governors demanding that they must produce the next president of the country.
He said the South cannot produce the next president through coercion.
Lamido said the party belongs to all Nigerians and that everybody has a stake in it. “The party exists for the country and not for one particular region,” he said, insisting that it would be impossible for southerners to get the presidency through force.
He added that if all politicians from the North and South teamed up with each insisting that the presidency must come from their side, there would be confusion in the country.
Speaking on a recent BBC programme, Wike explained why he is interested in who gets what in the party.
“All the governors are working as one and nothing is wrong when the governors said they want to know the type of chairman who is coming. Yes, I have my hand in the issue.
“Our governors’ forum, the PDP Governors’ Forum, has said we must know who will be the next chairman. When you say I also have my mind on who becomes the president, won’t I vote at the convention? What is important first is to build the party,” he said.
By Ismail Mudashir, Muideen Olaniyi & Dalhatu Liman