As its mandate ends Tuesday, the 37-person zoning committee of the Peoples Democratic Party has flung open its presidential ticket to all aspirants; The PUNCH has learned.
The decision came after a meeting on Tuesday at the Benue State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja.
According to a source who pleaded anonymity, the committee threw open the ticket “due to exigency of time” saying “zoning, as in our party constitution, is affirmed.”
The document sighted by our correspondent read:
“Recommendations of PDP Zoning Committee
“1. Zoning, as in our party constitution, is affirmed.
“2. Inspite of (1) above, (the) Ticket is thrown Open, this time around due to exigency of time.
“3. Our Party is encouraged to always make the issue of zoning very clear at least 6 months before sales of forms.
“4. 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, 2022, 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 the teeming 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 our correspondent 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 elections. Of these 10, nine were Northern states and only Lagos made the list. Kano, Kaduna, and Katsina had the highest voter turnout while Lagos came a distant fourth.
“Aspirants should be allowed to test their popularity at the primary election but if they choose to adopt a consensus approach, that will be acceptable to the party. It is a position every member of the committee was comfortable with.”
The PDP had zoned its presidential ticket to the North during the 2019 general elections.
The party argued that the zone still had an uncompleted tenure following the demise of former President Umaru Yar’Adua, on May 5, 2010, who only served for two years and 11 months.
Consequently, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar emerged the presidential candidate at the 2018 primary held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Ayo Fayose resigns
In a related development, a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, has resigned his membership in the zoning committee.
In a letter addressed to Governor Ortom before the commencement of Tuesday’s meeting, Fayose argued that his status as a presidential aspirant in the PDP disqualified him to sit on the committee.
The letter read, “Having hinted during our last meeting of my intention to run for the Office of the President in the coming primary election and by God’s grace, the general election, it will not be morally right to continue to participate in the zoning debate being an aspirant myself.
“Therefore, my state has nominated the bearer of this letter, Dr Gbenga Faseluka, to replace me.”
In attendance were Governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Darius Ishaku of Taraba; former Deputy National Chairman Bode George, former governors Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna), Boni Haruna (Adamawa), Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Ibrahim Shema (Katsina).
Others include former Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations, Tanimu Turaki, Information Minister Prof. Jerry Gana, and Chairman, PDP Disciplinary Committee, Tom Ikimi, among others.