The zoning committee of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, contrary to the expectation of its southern members, has recommended an open race for the party’s 2023 presidential ticket. According to the Punch, the party’s 37-person zoning committee, which took the decision at the Benue State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, on Tuesday, cited ‘exigency of time’ for its recommendation.
The report added that the committee based its recommendation on the high voter turnout in the North and the party’s determination to return to power. According to a leaked document obtained by the Punch, the committee stated that although zoning was affirmed in the party’s constitution, exigencies of time made it to dump the arrangement.
But the recommendation of the committee generated angry reactions from organisations such as the Igbo socio-cultural group, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Pan-Niger Delta Forum and the Middle Belt Forum with some of them saying it would affect the chances of the PDP in the 2023 polls.
But justifying its decision, the PDP committee, in the document titled, “Recommendations of PDP Zoning Committee,” stated, “ Zoning, as in our party constitution, is affirmed. In spite of the above, the ticket is thrown open, this time around due to the exigency of the time. “Our party is encouraged to always make the issue of zoning very clear at least six months before sales of forms.
“Our party should commend the efforts of some of our contestants on the issue of consensus candidacy; the efforts should be seen to a peaceful and logical conclusion.”
On March 16, the party’s National Executive Committee, at its 95th meeting, instituted a 37-man committee comprising members from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory to recommend a zoning formula for the various electoral offices ahead of next year’s polls.
Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, said, “By the grace of God, we have unanimously adopted a position that will be sent to the NEC of our party that appointed us. “The good news for teaming supporters of the PDP and Nigerians is that we have resolved and every one of us – the 37 members – unanimously adopted the position that we are going to present to NEC.”
Although Ortom was reticent about the zoning formula, The PUNCH learned that the committee would urge NEC to fling open the presidential race to all aspirants, irrespective of their zones. Another senior party source who spoke to one of our correspondents shortly after the meeting said the party would throw open the presidential ticket rather than restrict it to a region.
The source said, “Reference was made to the 10 states with the highest turnout of voters in the 2019 election. Of these 10, nine were northern states and only Lagos made the list. Kano, Kaduna, Katsina had the highest number of voters’ turnout while Lagos came a distant fourth.