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Nigeria: Finally, PDP Ditches Zoning, Throws Presidential Ticket Open

After much foot-dragging, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has finally jettisoned zoning. The 37-man committee set up by the party to decide on whether or not to zone its presidential

After much foot-dragging, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has finally jettisoned zoning. The 37-man committee set up by the party to decide on whether or not to zone its presidential ticket reached a unanimous decision to throw the ticket open to aspirants from all the zones of the country.

Though, there was no official confirmation yet, sources in the zoning committee, who attended a meeting on Tuesday at the Benue State Government Lodge, in Abuja, disclosed that the presidential ticket had been thrown open to all the 13 aspirants that had bought presidential nomination forms.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja, chairman of the committee and Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, said, “We have just finished our meeting. After we rose from our meeting last week, today we decided that we would meet and by the Grace of God we have unanimously adopted a position that will be sent to the NEC of our party that appointed us.

“The good news for our teaming supporters of the PDP and Nigerians is that we have resolved and every one of us, the 37 members, unanimously adopted the position that we are going to present to NEC.”

However, a copy of the recommendations by the zoning committee obtained by THISDAY stated:

“(1) Zoning, as in our party constitution, is affirmed.

“(2) In spite of (1) above, the ticket is thrown open, this time around due to exigency of time.

“(3) Our party is encouraged to always make the issue of zoning very clear at least six months before sales of forms.

“(4) Our party should commend the efforts of some of our contestants on the issue of consensus candidacy; the efforts should be seen to a peaceful and logical conclusion.”

No date has been fixed for a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party.

Reliable sources also told THISDAY that former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, Kawo Baraje, and Senator Abdul Ningi favoured the zoning of the presidential ticket to the north.

A source said the three of them argued separately that the best decision for the committee was to zone the presidential ticket to the north. Alternatively, they said, in the interest of fair play and transparency, the ticket should be thrown open to all the 13 aspirants that had purchased the presidential forms.

It was also learnt that they argued that the PDP ticket since 1999 had been in the southern part of the country, where former President Olusegun Obasanjo had it for eight years, followed by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, from the north, who died in office about three years into his tenure. Former President Goodluck Jonathan, from the south, held office from May 5, 2010 to May 29, 2015.

In the 22 years of return to democracy, the north has held the presidency for barely three years under the PDP.

Other from the north spoke in the same vein, insisting that for fairness, the ticket should be zoned to the northern part of the country.

But some argued that it would be in the overall interest of the PDP to throw the presidential ticket open to all the contestants. They believed it would be unfair to allow all the aspirants to pay and obtain the presidential forms and, then, exclude some later.

However, members of the committee from the south argued that prior to the 2019 presidential election, the Senator Ike Ekweremadu committee had officially announced the zoning of the PDP presidential candidate to the north. They argued that it was on the basis of the zoning arrangement that Atiku, Tambuwal, Saraki and others contested and there was no single southerner that contested in the Port Harcourt presidential convention.

Nembers of the committee from the South-west had during the heated argument called for an open contest, saying it is too late to zone the presidential ticket.

Sources said the South-west members contended that zoning the presidential ticket at this time could be counter-productive, as it was late to do so

It was gathered that in the coming days, the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) would summon an emergency meeting to discuss the recommendations of the zoning committee.

Political allies of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Senator Abdul Ningi and Adamu Waziri; ally of Bukola Saraki, who was National Secretary of PDP, Kawu Baraje; and former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, were all joyous after the meeting.

On the other hand, governor of Enugu State, Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who was a member of the zoning committee, was moody after the meeting. Also, former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, it was learnt, opted out of the committee’s meeting, saying he wants to contest the presidential ticket of the party.

Fayose said it would be unfair to be in the meeting while also interested in the contest.

Meanwhile, Tambuwal, who is a presidential aspirant under the party, is set to meet the PDP Senate and House of Representatives caucus as part of his consultation.

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