The stage was set for aspirants from all parts of the country to contest for the presidential ticket of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP with the dumping of zoning by the party on Tuesday.
The 37-person zoning committee of the PDP chaired by Governor Samuel Ortom had recommended that the party’s presidential ticket should be left open and not zoned to any part of the country on Tuesday.
The PDP set up the committee following agitations among members of the party on which part of the country the presidential ticket of the party should be zoned to.
Some members of the party wanted the ticket to be zoned to the Southern part of the country with argument that another Northerner should not be elected into Aso Rock presidential villa after eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari.
But others had argued that only a candidate from the North can win the presidency for the party in the 2023 presidential election.
Indeed, some of the presidential aspirants of the party had anchored their ambition on the believe that the ticket will be zoned to their part of the country.
The aspirants from the Southern part of the country who had already obtained the presidential form of the party like Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel, Anyim Pius Anyim, Publisher of Ovation International, Dele Momodu, Oliver Diana Teriela, Nwachukwu Anakwenze and former Anambra governor Peter Obi had anchored their ambition on the believe that the PDP will zone the presidential ticket to their part of the country.
And though he had argued that his presidential ambition is not based on agitations for for zoning, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike had also argued for power rotation.
Wike had in a recent interview said he supported a Northern presidential aspirant to get the ticket of the party in 2019 because of his believe in power rotation as also captured in Article 7 of the PDP’s constitution.
He had consequently expressed displeasure over what he described as the rush by presidential candidates from the Northern parts of the country, including Aminu Tambuwal who he supported in 2019 to buy the PDP’s presidential nomination form.
“Tambuwal is still my very good friend. In 2019, I supported him because we zoned the presidency to the North. In 2017, all of us agreed that this should be zoned to the North and that was why nobody from the South collected forms for that election and I have no regret about that. What I do not like is for people to deny that there is no zoning or there should be no zoning. That is what I do not like,” said Wike.
“The provision of our constitution is clear under Section 7, Sub-section 3C. It says, there should be rotation of party offices and elective offices. The founding fathers of the party know the complexity, they know the diversity of this country and they made sure that for equity, fairness and justice, this should be done,” he added.
On the contrary, Tambuwal and other aspirants from the North including businessman Muhammad Hayatudeen, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Presidents of the Senate, Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed and their supporters had argued against zoning of the presidential ticket to the South.
Rather, they said the ticket should be left open and aspirants should be allowed seek support of party members.
They also argued that Northerner had occupied the presidential seat for only about two years for the 16 years the PDP was in power.
The leadership of PDP has also been duplicitous about zoning. For one, a top official of the party said some months ago that the presidential ticket will not be zoned and will be made open.
However, the party still went on to set up the 37 – member committee on zoning after it began selling nomination forms for presidential aspirants at the price of N40 million each.
Those who accused the party of insincerity over the zoning were proved right with the decision of the zoning committee to throw the ticket open on Tuesday.
The Ortom Committee had reportedly affirmed that though zoning is in the PDP constitution, the ticket should be thrown open in “this time around due to exigency of time.”
The Committee also advised PDP to always make the issue of zoning very clear at least 6 months before sales of forms.
Also, in reaching their decision, members of the Committee also considered the fact that out of the 10 states with the highest turnout of voters in the 2019 elections nine were Northern states.
“This again solidify the argument of members of the party that only a Northern candidate can defeat the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC which by all indications has zoned it presidential ticket to the Southern part of the country.”