* Berate Fayose over presidential ambition
* ‘Any zone in South can produce National Chairman’
Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
Leaders and elders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the North have vowed that the presidential candidate of the party in the 2019 presidential elections must be produced by the zone in strict compliance with the zoning arrangement of the party.
This is even as the leaders berated Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose for trying to thwart the zoning arrangement of the party.
The Northern leaders and elders of the party made the vow at a meeting on Tuesday in Abuja. The meeting was attended by former Governors of the party, ex-ministers, two former Chairmen and the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee (NCC), of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, senators and House of Representatives’ members among others.
The declaration by the Northern leaders of the PDP came against the backdrop of the recent declaration by Fayose for the 2019 presidency on the platform of the party.
The PDP, had at its May, 2016 national convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, resolved to zone the party’s presidential ticket to the Northern part of the country, while national chairmanship slot of the party was zoned to the Southern part of the country.
All those who spoke at the meeting, among whom were former Minister of Information, Prof Jerry Gana, Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT, PDP, Senator Walid Jubrin, Makarfi, two former National Chairmen of the party – Senator Ahmadu Ali and Dr Haliru Mohammed Bello and former Senate President, Iyiorchia Ayu among others, were resolute that the zoning arrangement of the party must be respected and upheld.
Gana, in his welcome speech, categorically said that the next presidential candidate of the PDP, must come from one of the geo-political zones in the North: North-East, North West and North Central.
The former Minister of Information insisted that regardless of what the Fayoses of this world may be doing, the North should concentrate efforts in producing the presidential candidate of the party.
Gana said, “The next presidential candidate of the PDP must come from one of the three zones of the North regardless of what the Fayoses of this world may be doing”.
Senator Jubrin pointed out that all members of the party must respect and show regard for the zoning arrangements as agreed on by all organs of the party.
The BoT Chairman advised that all the zones in the North should come together and look inward with a view to agreeing on who to push forward for the position.
Jubrin, while pointing out that the North is blessed with so many capable politicians, said, “We must be able to take a decision that will be acceptable to the North and the country”.
He harped on the need for all to do away with tribal, sectional and religious differences and come together to work as one united entity.
On his part, Makarfi lauded the sacrifice of delegates to the meeting, saying the fact that they paid their way to Abuja, took care of their accommodation and feeding, is a pointer to their unflinching loyalty to the PDP project.
On the zoning of the Presidency to the North, Makarfi reiterated the commitment of the party to honour the agreement, stressing that those bent on indicating interest in elective positions should not be barred from doing so provided that the zoning formula is respected.
His words, “The Port Harcourt convention remains valid and one of the decisions taken at that convention was zoning. Micro zoning does not have binding effect.
“If a position is zoned to the North and you are from the North and you come to buy form, we will sell for you,” he said even as he reminded party members not to forget that “People will not get tired of taking the PDP to court.”
On the progress made so far in the reconciliation efforts by the party, Makarfi said the entire machinery of Labour Party in Osun State has resolved to join the PDP in a matter of days.
For Dr. Ahmadu Ali, ex-national chairman of the PDP, the way forward for the party is a united front where “mini meetings” if they should hold “must get the approval of the national chairman.”
Apparently worried by the show of interest in the national chairmanship, Dr. Ali called on the north to support the South-West’s aspiration.
He said: “Let us stop these mini meetings. Any of such meetings must get the approval of the national chairman.
“We must be ready to ensure that at the convention, the main issue, which is the national chairmanship of the party, is well handled. If we don’t vote the South-West, we can as well forget the PDP.”
Taking a sightly different position on Fayose’s presidential declaration, former Acting National Chairman of the party, Dr. Bello Haliru, called for sanctions noting that zoning and rotation of offices have always been given a pride of place.
His words, “zoning and rotation are part of the PDP Constitution. We must adhere to them if we are to keep this party alive.
“There are people who are bent on contesting whether the office is zoned to their place or not. We must discuss with the South, so that anybody who goes against zoning can be punished. We cannot afford to have people come to the convention and make a fool of themselves and ridicule the party,” he said.
Also speaking at the meeting, former Senate President, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, said the PDP must put an end to impunity and dictatorship as preparations for the convention intensify, even as he urged the party to leverage on its presence at the grassroots to return to power.
According to him, “The PDP is a party that was formed to fight dictatorship; it’s an anti-dictatorship party. Let’s stop imposing candidates and allow them to emerge through electoral democracy or through consensus.
“We have representation in all the 774 local government areas in the country. If we mobilise them, we will return to power,” Ayu added.