The Peoples Democratic Party has given the North the option of producing its presidential candidate in 2023 despite the emergence of a northerner, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, as the consensus chairmanship candidate of the party. The PUNCH reports.
This was confirmed by a former acting National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, during a chat with The newsmen on Thursday.
Ayu, a former Senate President, who is from the North-Central, emerged the consensus candidate of the PDP ahead of a former Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State and Senator Abdul Ningi from the North-East.
Traditionally, the PDP has always zoned its chairmanship and presidential seats to different regions, but while it zoned its chairmanship seat this time around, it has refused to zone its presidential seat.
Baraje, had in a statement on Wednesday said the North-Central needed the Presidency not the national chairmanship of the party.
According to him, in the event the zone gets the chairmanship, it should not prevent it from contesting the presidency.
Speaking to newsmen on whether this concern was addressed before Ayu was chosen via consensus, Baraje said, “It was one of the provisos when we settled for Ayu. It (concern) was very much addressed and we are satisfied.
It was put in black and white agreement that North-Central could contest presidential ticket – Baraje
“The party too agreed with us. Not only did we agree that the fact that the party chairman is coming from the North-Central does not stop the zone from contesting the presidential ticket This was put in black and white as an agreement.”
Speaking further he said, “Ayu is capable of leading the party to victory. He has been a Senate President. He has been a minister. He is a founding father of the party. He knows who to contact and know that running a party is about inclusiveness. He is coming on board with all these experiences.”
With the agreement, the presidential ticket of the party is opened to the North and the South.
Speaking with newsmen on Thursday, however, a former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Bode George, said it would be wrong to give the North the opportunity to emerge as the presidential candidate after the region had picked a northern chairman.
George, who was a guest on PUNCH Live, further stated that Nigeria had not yet reached the level where zoning would be jettisoned completely.
He said, “Look at the state of the country? I don’t know who formed the membership of our zoning committee and decided. There is no way at least for now that you will have chairmanship from one area and the Presidential candidate from the same area.
“If President goes to the North, the national chairman comes to the South; then the Senate President goes to the North and the Speaker comes to the South. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation will come to the North and then the national chairman comes to the South; three in the North, three in the South.”
“Are we saying we have walked away from the tribal sentiment that has plagued Nigeria for so long? Rather than reducing, it has exacerbated. We must give everybody a sense of belonging.”
The former PDP deputy national chairman said it was untrue that the North had the numbers to win the Presidency better than the South.
He argued that the belief was based on falsehood because there was no date to prove that the North had a larger population than the South. (PUNCH)