The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Iyorchia Ayu, has reiterated the party’s stance on the controversial demand to jettison its existing zoning arrangement.
Mr Ayu, on Thursday, at the inauguration of the 37-member zoning committee in Abuja, said the PDP will stick to its custom of rotating its political offices among geopolitical zones in the country.
While the party has successfully crossed the hurdle of zoning its national officers at its 2021 National Convention, the controversy around where the party will zone its presidential ticket has not been resolved.
There have been calls from the PDP leaders, especially those from the Northern region, to jettison the rotation arrangement and throw the ticket open.
The 2019 presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, has been at the forefront of the campaign, dismissing the debate on zoning as the solution to the leadership crisis facing the country.
His view was also recently aired by the Governor of Sokoto, Aminu Tambuwal, who on Tuesday cautioned his party against maintaining status quo on zoning rather than focusing on fielding a good candidate.
This is coming as the South-west and South-south intensify their campaigns for a Southern president.
Both Messrs Abubakar and Tambuwal are gunning for the PDP presidential ticket whether the party zones it to their region or throws it open for all.
Mr Ayu urged interested aspirants whom the rotation arrangement for the 2023 poll may not be in their favour to wait for their time.
“PDP has a history of rotating our offices. Anybody who doesn’t get it this time should wait after the tenure of whoever will be our next president.
“We believe PDP is going to produce the next President once we start this journey. This time, we will ensure it goes round. And it will go round with justice, fairness and the interests of Nigeria,” he said.
The party, after the 95th National Executive Council meeting, had tasked the zoning committee to submit its final zoning list by March 30.
Mr Ayu assured Nigerians of a smooth process that will produce credible candidates to return the PDP back to the centre after its defeat in 2015.
“There is no issue that is too difficult or too important for the PDP to resolve. That is the spirit of the party. Therefore, I urge all of you to discuss this matter with the same spirit that you discussed at NEC. Let us not have any rancour whatsoever and at the end of the day, remain focused on the main goal,” he said.
He added that the party will be at liberty to rotate the party ticket as it wishes after it returns to power.
Mr Abubakar, from the north, was the party’s presidential candidate in the 2019 election.
Apart from Messrs Abubakar and Tambuwal, other members of the party from the north who have shown interest in the presidential race are former Senate President, Bukola Saraki from Kwara State and Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State.
Those from the South are former Senate President, Pius Anyim; Dele Momodu, Sam Ohuabunwa and former Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State.
Since its formation in 1998, the PDP, which was in power at the centre for 16 years, has always rotated the presidency between the north and the south.
While former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan hail from the South, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua hailed from the north.
The main opposition party may likely zone its 2023 presidential ticket to the south since Mr Ayu hails from the north.
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