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Nigeria: Opposition PDP in Dilemma Over Zoning, 37-Member Committee Still Divided, Meets Tuesday

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting of the 37-man committee set up by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to decide on the zoning of the 2023 presidential ticket, the party is in

Debo Ologunagba

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting of the 37-man committee set up by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to decide on the zoning of the 2023 presidential ticket, the party is in a dilemma over the zoning with the members of the committee also divided.
THISDAY gathered that the issue of zoning is likely to make or mar the main opposition party’s chances of winning the election as the northern and southern leaders of the party head for a collision over the matter.
The party, in a desperate bid to find a solution to the issue of zoning, had set up a 37-man committee headed by the governor of Benue State, Dr Samuel Ortom to work out an amicable resolution.
THISDAY gathered that the committee met last week without reaching any consensus on the zoning of the presidential ticket.

A member of the committee from the North told THISDAY on Saturday that the northern members of the committee would insist on throwing the ticket open when the committee meets on Tuesday this week on the matter.
The source disclosed that the northern and southern members of the committee were sharply divided over the issue.
He also disclosed that the committee was under pressure from the northern leaders of the party to throw the ticket open to all the six geopolitical zones, despite the clamour by their southern counterparts for the ticket to be zoned to the South.

“Morally, it is difficult to zone the presidential ticket now because all the aspirants from the zones have bought presidential forms.  It would have been better to zone it months ago, not now that all the aspirants have bought forms. So, in the circumstances, therefore, our recommendation may be that the ticket should be thrown open for all. You don’t allow people to purchase forms and zone them out. If you resolve to refund their money for the purchase of forms, how will you refund their energy and other resources invested in the exercise,” the source queried?
So far, five aspirants from the North – former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki; Governor of Sokoto State,  Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and the Bauchi State governor, Senator Bala Mohammed and Mohammad Hayatu-Deen have already purchased forms to vie for the party’s presidential ticket.

For the South, nine aspirants have equally picked their presidential aspiration forms.  They are Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, and Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State; Mr Dele Momodu; former President of the Senate, Senator  Anyim Pius Anyim; Nwachukwu Anakwenze; former Governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi; Mr Sam Ohuabunwa; and Oliver Terila Diana, the only female aspirant.
The southern governors elected on the platform of PDP have continued to demand the zoning of the presidential ticket of the party to the South, while presidential aspirants from the North are not ready to back down.

he South-south governors are more vociferous in the clamour for the ticket.
The governors, at a meeting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, last week had restated their demand for the ticket to be micro-zoned to the South-south.
Speaking after the Uyo meeting, Wike had described the zone as the “pillar” holding the PDP.
For this reason, he said the South-south should be given the chance to produce the party’s 2023 presidential candidate.
The task before the Ortom-led zoning committee is no doubt an arduous one.

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

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