Southsouth PDP Governors Demand Presidential Ticket

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) remains divided along the North/South lines over its presidential ticket zoning.

Yesterday, the Southsouth leadership of the party made up of governors, federal lawmakers, former governors and other stakeholders demanded that the zone should be handed the ticket “in the spirit of fairness, equity and justice.”

But the party, through its Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, declared that it would not stop presidential aspirants from the North who have indicated an interest in the ticket.

At yesterday’s summit in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, the Southsouth leaders warned that the party might lose the opportunity to retake power if it failed to allow its stronghold to produce the candidate.

The communique of the summit with the theme: “Engendering a Southsouth agenda for 2023 and beyond,” read by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, said: “The zone is fully in support of the position of the Southern Governor’s forum that the next President of Nigeria must come from the Southern part of Nigeria.”

Addressing the meeting earlier, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike asked the PDP to treat the Southsouth geo-political zone with fairness, justice and equity.

The governor said having consistently voted for the PDP since 1999, the party should not ignore the Southsouth’s contributions to its success.

Wike added: “The Southsouth is the pillar of the PDP. If the Southsouth is the pillar of the PDP, they must be treated with fairness, justice and equity.

“It is not only when it comes to work, it is not only when it comes to giving votes that we will all remember that the Southsouth is the pillar. When it also comes in terms of sharing, they should remember that this is the pillar of the party.”

Wike charged his colleagues, National Assembly members and other stakeholders from the zone to set aside their differences in the overall interest of the PDP.

“We have all said that Nigerians are waiting for PDP to take over in 2023. That is true. But we cannot take over if we are not united. We cannot take over if don’t work together.

“It is for us to put our house together and make Nigerians proud because if we don’t take over in 2023, Nigerians will never forgive PDP. We must take this opportunity and make Nigerians happy,” he said.

The governor said PDP had realised its past mistakes, and would not take Nigerians for granted when given another opportunity.

Wike said the Federal Government’s declaration that it had deleted Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act smacked of corruption.

However, no aspirant in the Southsouth zone, apart from Dele Momodu, has indicated interest to vie.

At the meeting were Governors Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom); Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Douye Diri (Bayelsa).

Other dignitaries in attendance included PDP National Vice Chairman (Southsouth), Chief Dan Orbih; Senator George Sekibo; former Deputy House of Reps Speaker, Austin Opara; former governors Liyel Imoke (Cross River) and Celestine Omehia (Rivers).

Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki was the only Southsouth PDP governor absent at the meeting. He has been having a running battle with Wike.

Yesterday, former Senate President Bukola Saraki obtained the Presidential nomination form in Abuja.

On Sunday, Saraki at a meeting with Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal and Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed in Bauchi said the three of them had decided to produce a consensus candidate from the North.

He added that they would contact former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the first aspirant to pick the party’s nomination form.

PDP spokesman Ologunagba, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone, said chieftains seeking to fly the flag of the party have not broken any rule.

According to him, Atiku and Saraki were exercising their fundamental human rights, which guarantee their aspiration to leadership positions in the country.

Ologunagba said: “They did not jump the gun as you inferred. The constitution of the PDP, and indeed the Nigerian constitution, did not empower the party leadership to abridge the rights of any party member or any Nigerian for that matter.

“Let me make it clear that Atiku, Saraki, or any other aspirant collecting the nomination form at this point, cannot stop the 37-man committee from doing its job.

“To make it clearer; even if the committee eventually zones the presidential ticket to a particular part of the country, it does not take away the right of other qualified and interested individuals to contest.

“The PDP is a party of laws and regulations. We do things in accordance with our laws and procedures, and in line with the constitution of Nigeria.

“You would recall that during our last national convention, there was a committee set up by NEC on issues of zoning, which made recommendations that were accepted and implemented by NEC.

“But there were some people who were interested in contesting and they still went ahead to contest for positions based on their convictions. So, there is nothing out of place in what is unfolding.”

Ologunagba, however, did not rule out the adoption of a consensus candidate.

He said: “We have a robust conflict resolution mechanism in place, through which we resolve our differences amicably. So, there is no contradiction anywhere.”

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