2023: PDP MAY HOLD NEC OVER SOUTH EAST DEMAND FOR PRESIDENCY

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may be in a serious quagmire over the zoning of its presidential ticket in 2023 as agitation for an Igbo presidency took another dimension. The party may convene a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week to consider the zoning of its ticket even as PDP stands the risk of losing the South East’s support in the next election should the region is not considered.

Though no official of the party was ready to discuss the matter, Sunday Telegraph’s investigation revealed that PDP is at a loss on how to handle the demand without injuring the interests of the other zones.

Already, some party members nursing presidential ambition in 2023 have started reaching out to leaders of the party to solicit their support for their project. Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, whose second tenure in office expires in 2023, is speculated to be one of those interested in the PDP ticket.

Tambuwal, who is also the Chairman, PDP Governors’ Forum, last August, met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former military President, Ibrahim Babangida; former President of the Senate, David Mark and former minister of Defence, Theophilous Danjuma.

Many felt the meeting was in connection with his presidential project in 2023. It is speculated that he will run with either Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, or former Imo State governor, Emeka Ihedioha. But the position of South East on the 2023 presidency is giving PDP leaders sleepless night.

Apart from South-South, PDP has consistently won the South East in the presi-dential elections since the return of democracy in the country in 1999, despite the loss of two states – Imo and Anambra – to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), respectively.

Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi, had told members of PDP National Working Committee (NWC) who met him last week in Abakaliki, to persuade him not to leave the party, that his decision is irrevocable unless the party cedes its presidential ticket to the South East. The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohaneze Ndigbo, which is demanding a president of Igbo extraction in 2023, has also spoken in favour of Umahi’s decision.

There was report of planned mass defection of PDP members from the zone to APC, if the party refuses to give its ticket to South East. A source at the PDP secretariat in Abuja confided in Sunday Telegraph that though, there is merit in the demand, but it is too early to take decision on where the next presidential candidate will come from. “2023 is still far. Even APC has not taken a decision on where its (presidential) candidate will come from.

PDP is an opposition party, so you don’t expect the party to zone the ticket before the APC that is in government,” the source said. When reminded that PDP zoned its 2019 presidency to the North in 2015, the source responded: “Yes, it was a recommendation by (Ike) Ekweremadu committee, which was adopted by NEC. “There are various organs of the party. The NWC alone cannot just take decision on where the next presidential candidate will come from without the other organs.”

Before now, another PDP source disclosed that the party would retain its presidential ticket in the North because the South has ruled 13 out of the 16 years of PDP presidency. (Late Umaru Musa) Yar’Adua, who was the only PDP president from the North, ruled only three years. PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, refused to speak on the South East demand, when contacted.

PDP and APC may be waiting for each other to make the first move, which will begin with the zoning of party leadership. The ruling party, which is supposed to hold its national convention in December, has shifted it to next year. PDP’s national convention will hold in December 2021.

The party is planning to retain its national chairmanship in the South. But with the agitation for Igbo presidency, PDP might reconsider its zoning formula.

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