Plans by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to zone its presidential ticket to the North has met a brick wall following stiff opposition by governors in the party from the Southern region who have insisted that the next presidential flagbearer of the party must not come from the North.
Our source said the PDP governors from the Southern part of the country have distanced themselves from plans by the party to give its ticket to a Northerner and have resisted attempts by the stakeholders in the party to reconsider their stance.
The 19 Southern governors from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and PDP in their meeting in Lagos in July had issued a communiqué where they agreed that presidency should be zoned to Southern Nigeria in 2023 when President Muhammadu Buhari completes his second term.
Speaking in an interview monitoredby DailyIndependent at the weekend, Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who is the Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum, said, any political party that fields a Northern candidate for presidency in 2023 risks losing the support of Southerners.
He argued that when President Muhammadu Buhari, a Northerner, completes his second term in 2023, the next president should come from the South.
Speaking with Daily Independent, a former member of the PDP’s Board of Trustees (BoT) said with the decision by the Southern governors, the earlier unofficial zoning arrangement adopted by the party, which tilts towards zoning the ticket to the North may be set aside.
Although the party is silent on the zoning of its presidential ticket, no one has signified interest from the South. It is believed that the next national chairman of the party will come from the South in order to pave way for a Northern presidential candidate.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, as well as the Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, are the known presidential hopefuls in the PDP.
This development has given rise to undisputed speculations that the opposition party had zoned its ticket to the North.
Our source said, “With the push by the Southern Governors’ Forum that President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor must come from the Southern part of the country, our party may be opting for a new zoning arrangement as it is believed that former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, will wrap up his deal with APC any moment from now.”
Also speaking with select journalists, a former member of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), who chose to remain anonymous said, “The insistence of the PDP to pick its national chairman from the South while looking in the direction of the North for the presidential candidate appears to be waning by the day as a result of the national pulse.
“Our initial plan was to pick the national chairman from the South-West so that our candidate can come from the North. But with the way things are going, we are on the edge of being shut out of relevance if we insist on that. Even the PDP governors appear to be developing clay foot on their preferred Northern aspirants because they have jointly taken a position on the matter.
“The argument has been that our party is different from the APC and that we can pick from the North; but with the way the Southern governors are pushing, the committee on zoning is also considering a lot about the push.
“Remember that the chairman of the Zoning Committee is the governor of Enugu State who hosted the last Southern Governors’ Forum meeting. From all indications, the governors of the South are determined irrespective of party lines to ensure the candidates of major parties are from the South. Do we overlook it? No.
“Apart from that, the ruling party is already thinking along that line by wooing the former president, and we know they are already putting finishing touches to their talks, they will conclude very, very soon and we are aware that at least two more PDP governors are heading the APC way ahead of Jonathan.
“So, we are already looking very seriously, at the possible implications of fielding a Northerner; and in a matter of days, we will come out clearly to unveil a fresh plan in respect of the zoning issue. It has to be revisited and we are thinking along that way now,” he said.