There are fresh indications that the Peoples Democratic Party is planning to field a Northern candidate for the 2023 Presidential elections.
This follows the findings by a committee set up by the party to review why it lost in the 2019 presidential election and recommend solutions on how the party would return to power.
The 14-member committee, headed by Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, had recommended that the presidential ticket of the party be thrown open to all regions instead of resorting to a zoning arrangement.
A chieftain of the party who is a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT), told Daily Independent that the party would adopt the committee’s report as there is “a great likelihood that the majority of PDP stakeholders want the ticket to be zoned to the Northern part of the country”.
He said it would be unfair to consider the South again for the ticket having spent 13 years out of PDP’s 16-year reign in power.
“The committee has done its job and it is left for the stakeholders to look at the recommendations they have made dispassionately and come up with a position, but I can tell you with certainty that the report will be adopted.
“They are arguing that a rotational presidency is a way to go based on the arrangement of the party’s constitution. Fair enough, yes, but current circumstances will not make that possible because that arrangement was altered in 2010 during the Yar’Adua presidency.
“Now, the PDP, before we were pushed out in 2015, had spent 16 years in power. Of the 16 years, the South used 13 years and some days. Former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who took the Northern slot in 2007, only spent two years and 25 days before his demise.
“His deputy, Goodluck Jonathan, from the Southern part of the country, completed their tenure and had another four years (which Yar’Adua may have gotten if he had contested for a second term).
“With that, the South used 13 years and some days out of the PDP’s 16 year- reign. So, with this explanation, on what grounds will the PDP zone it to the South again? Logic demands that it goes to the North. Which region produced the last president and presidential candidate under the PDP before the party lost power? We all know it was the South. That means, it should go back to the North if it is on the strength of fairness that some Southern stakeholders are canvassing.”
Also speaking, a member of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), said the PDP may need to field a Northern presidential candidate if it is serious about returning to power in 2023.
He, however, said rather than excluding any region, the party may adopt the committee’s report by throwing open the ticket to all aspirants from all parts of the country so that the best among them will emerge as the candidate of the party.
According to him, it is ideal for the PDP to leverage the voting strength of the North by fielding someone from the region as a Presidential candidate.
He said: “I believe that for strategy reasons, the PDP cannot afford to push the presidency to the South if, indeed, we are serious about returning to power.
“If the ruling party zones to the South and PDP does the same, the reality is that the APC will emerge victorious because they already have the edge as the ruling party.
“If the PDP fields a Northern presidential candidate and the APC fields a southerner, the PDP will have the advantage because the North has the voting strength and all other indices that count during elections. The belief is even that if the PDP fields a Northern presidential candidate, the APC members from the North will support him.
“We all know what happened in 2015 when the APC fielded President Muhammadu Buhari and some PDP members from the North supported and worked for him in the background. The PDP is looking for strategic reasons to win the 2023 presidential election and, by so doing, we can’t afford to zone to the South.
“But for fairness, we won’t exclude any region, and that is why the committee has decided to leave it open. If a popular Southerner wins the primary, then good luck to him, we will all support him.
“The issue is that the Southern PDP members know that they stand no chance in the open competition and that is why they are insisting on zoning so that no northerner will compete for the ticket with them. All they want is to have it on a platter of gold. I doubt if that will happen.”
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, in an interview with BBC Pidgin, said if zoning the PDP presidential ticket to the North will cause the party to win the 2023 general election, he would support the decision.
The governor explained that the reason why the PDP had not taken a final decision on whether its presidential candidate for the 2023 general election should be from the North or South of the country is that stakeholders were still strategising on the best options that would guarantee the party’s victory in the polls.
He stated that the PDP was keen to take over power in 2023 and was not in a hurry to give the ruling APC a glimpse of its strategy to wrest power from it in the next general election.
“I am from the Southern part of Nigeria. I will be happy if power returns to the South, but if PDP will win the 2023 presidential election by zoning the presidential ticket to the North, I will not be opposed to it,” Wike said.