Ahead of its primaries, Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has decided to throw open its 2023 presidential ticket to all sections of the country.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, disclosed this at the end of the PDP’s National Executive Council meeting on Wednesday.
The decision to throw open the ticket he said, was in line with the recommendation made by the party’s zoning committee.
“After a very extensive deliberation NEC aligned with the recommendation of the PDP National Zoning Committee that the Presidential Election should now be left open. The party should also work towards consensus candidate where possible.
“NEC noted the recommendation of the Zoning Committee that in the interest of justice and fair play, the Party should take decision on Zoning timeously so as to prevent complications to the process,” he said.
Mr Ologunagba further said the party will conduct Presidential Primary (Special National Convention) to elect the party’s presidential candidate on Saturday May 28 and Sunday May 29, 2022 in Abuja.
The National Convention Organising Committee will be headed by former Senate President, David Mark, with Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as Deputy Chairman and Ibrahim Shema as Secretary.
This announcement comes weeks after the zoning committee submitted its recommendations to the PDP NEC.
The 37-member committee headed by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, was set up by the party in March and asked to make recommendations on a zoning formula for the various electoral offices ahead of next year’s polls.
Although some members of the panel hinted that it asked the party to throw open the presidential ticket, citing the exigency of time as its reason for doing so, Mr Ortom, however, dismissed the media reports.
The party’s decision on zoning comes amid calls and expectations that it would zone the presidential ticket to the south – ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Already, the party’s presidential screening committee headed by Mr Mark has screened 17 presidential aspirants who have purchased the nomination forms.
The discord in the party – in the past weeks – over zoning has been between two groups – the pro-zoning group mostly made up of southern leaders who believe it is the turn for the South to produce the next president having had a northern president rule for the past eight years and the late Musa Yar’ Adua as the party’s last candidate.
And there is the anti-zoning group, mostly northern leaders, who want the ticket thrown open because they believe they stand a chance of winning the primaries and eventually the election, and because in the last 16 year-rule of the PDP, two southern presidents – Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, ruled for the most part of it.
Some members of the panel who support an open ticket have, however, argued that aspirants should be allowed to either test their strength and popularity at the party’s primary or adopt a consensus candidate.