Barring any last-minute change of schedules, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will on Wednesday meet to decide on the report of its 37-man committee headed by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State.
The committee had recommended that the party should throw open the presidential ticket of the party to all interested party members.
This is coming as an elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai has urged the main opposition party to adhere to the principle of zoning and zone its presidential ticket to the South-east for the sake of equity and stability.
Despite the clamour for a power shift to the South, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former President of the Senate, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim and the Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal yesterday intensified consultations on their presidential ambition, lamenting that the current administration led by APC has shattered the hopes of Nigerians.
This is just as the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, urged the ruling party to fix the universities and end the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) with the huge funds generated from the sale of its presidential nomination forms.
The PDP NEC had in its meeting set up a 37-man committee to discuss and advise the party on where to zone its presidential ticket for the 2023 presidential election.
Before the submission of the report to NEC, the report, which recommended that all the geo-political zones should be allowed to run, was leaked to the media.
The Deputy Chairman of the committee, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu submitted the committee’s report on behalf of Ortom.
In their separate comments, the National Chairman of the party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu and Elumelu had stated that only the NEC of the party would have the final say on the vexed issue of zoning after debating the outcome of the committee’s report.
Ayu promised that the committee’s recommendations would be transmitted to the NEC, which would take a final decision.
According to him, the decision would be made known to “party members across the country and all Nigerians who are eagerly awaiting the final decision of your committee.”
Sources close to the 37-man committee had stated that the party’s leadership was more interested in how to win the presidential election than zoning of the presidency which might hamper their effort to regain power in 2023.
However, the governors of the party from the South rose from their meeting in April, insisting that the presidential ticket of the party must be zoned to the South.
The NEC meeting after suffering several adjustments is expected to hold on Wednesday to bring the issue to rest. This was confirmed by the National Secretary of PDP, Senator Samuel Anyanwu.
He said that the earlier shift was due to the local government delegate election.
Zone Presidential Ticket to South-east for Stability, Equity, Yakassai tells PDP
Meanwhile, the 97-year-old Yakassai has urged the PDP to zone its presidential ticket to the South for the sake of stability and justice.
He also that the APC has no reason not to zone its presidential ticket to the South as the Presidency of Muhammadu Buhari comes to an end by 2023 having been elected in 2015.
He said: “The presidential ticket of the APC is expected to rotate between North and South.”
Tanko Yakassai said: “Though the timing is not ripe now as the PDP could have decided the zoning of its presidential ticket at least six months before now, for equity and stability of the country, the PDP should zone its presidential ticket to the zone that has not produced it since the return to democracy after several years of military rule.
“My advice to the PDP as the party meets on Wednesday to discuss where the presidential ticket of the party will come from, I think that much as the timing is late, the party should listen to the voice of reason and give the South-east that opportunity. This will help reduce the tension in the country and help stabilise the country. We are in real danger over this agitation to shift power to the South,” he explained.
He described the support of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) for the North to retain power as a harbinger of crisis, insisting that it is not the fault of anybody that the north presented an incompetent person for the presidency in 2015.
“From 2015 to 2023, the presidency of the country would have stayed in the North and therefore for equity and stability power should shift to the south and in fact to the geopolitical zone that have not have it since the return of democracy.”
According to Yakassai, “the APC is duty-bound to ensure that power shifts to the South.”
“For the PDP, it is not the party in power, but for the stability and giving a sense of belonging, I would support that it is zoned to the South and in the South-east in particular. This will help to heal the wounds of the nation as was the case in 1999 went the country was bleeding as the result of the June 12 agitation”
Atiku, Tambuwal, Anyim Intensify Consultations, Say Apc as Shattered
Meanwhile, Atiku has lamented that Nigeria has never been this divided before, and vowed to restore the unity of Nigeria if voted to power in 2023.
The former vice president stated this when he met with delegates of the PDP in Ogun State at the party secretariat in Abeokuta, the state capital.
Atiku noted that Nigeria must be rescued from the APC-led administration which he said has led the country into failure, following poor economy, insecurity and ethnic clashes.
He, however, promised not to fail Nigerians, saying APC has not been fair to all parts of this country.
“I promise to unify this country. I promise to give a sense of belonging to every part of this country. We have done it before in 1999 when we came, there was a lot of disunities, but it was not as bad as this,” Atiku explained.
Tambuwal and Anyim also took their consultations to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party and Kogi State, respectively.
Tambuwal told the PDP NWC that if allowed to become the presidential candidate in the 2023 presidential election he will rescue Nigeria from becoming a failed state.
In the same manner, Anyim told the Kogi State delegates that if given the opportunity that he will revive the Ajaokuta Steel Mill to make the economy rebound.
According to Tambuwal, who met the PDP NWC to present his manifesto, “we are all in agreement; that is what I can call consensus, that we are facing greater dangers that we’ve never faced before. Our country has been divided as never before. Our economy is in shambles. The security ravaging the country has never been this bad.
The general summation of the situation of the country is that we are inching towards a failed state. I’m not saying that Nigeria is already a failed state, but we’re inching towards that.”
On his part, Anyim pledged to restore the economy and improve the security situation in the country if he emerges the president in 2023.
He also unveiled his agenda to revitalise the economy and revive the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company which is almost over 90 per cent near completion
Anyim said that apart from reviving the Ajaokuta Steel Company that he will also provide purposeful political leadership that will move the country forward.
“My pedigree as a former Senate President and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation has positioned and given me the political capacity to move the country forward,” he added.
In his response on behalf of the party’s NWC, the National Chairman of the PDP, Ayu, promised a transparent and fair presidential primary.
Culled from THISDAY