Prominent leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the three geo-political zones in the North yesterday urged adherence to the zoning arrangement agreed upon for the party’s national convention and 2019 general elections.
Among others, the party has zoned its chairmanship slot to the South and the presidential ticket reserved for aspirants from the North.
The party leaders, at an enlarged consultative meeting in Abuja yesterday, appealed to aspirants to various elective positions not to violate the zoning arrangement, saying the party paid dearly for such violations in the 2015 presidential election.
But there was disagreement.
While a former National Chairman Dr. Ahmadu Ali argued in favour of electing the next chairman from the Southwest geopolitical zone, Caretaker Chairman Ahmed Makarfi said the position was zoned to the South and that micro zoning is not binding.
Ali said: “It’s either we choose our next national chairman from the Southwest or we forget about PDP”, adding that the zone had yet to occupy the chairmanship position since the formation of the party in 1998.
“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 Southwest, we can as well forget the PDP.”
Ali maintained that the way forward for the PDP is to remain united and warned against unauthorised divisive meetings among certain members for selfish reasons.
Makarfi restated the commitment of the party to respect the various zoning arrangements, adding however that those bent on going against the zoning arrangement should be allowed to please themselves.
Makarfi said: “The Port Harcourt convention decisions remain valid and one of the decisions taken at that convention was zoning. But microzoning does not have a 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. Don’t forget that people will not get tired of taking the PDP to court”.
Another former National Chairman Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed, called for sanctions against members that go against the party’s zoning arrangement.
Haliru added that going against the party’s zoning arrangement should no longer be tolerated; saying doing so amounted to disobedience and disloyalty that must be addressed by the leadership.
The ex party chair called for sanctions against Eklit State Governor Ayodele Fayose, who declared his intention to run for President, noting that “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”.
Former Senate President Iyorchia Ayu described the north as one with the required number to decide who becomes the next chairman.
“We in the North have the number and we will decide who eventually becomes the national chairman from any part of the South. We have done it before and we are going to do it again”, Ayu said.
A former Minister of Information, Prof Jerry Gana warned against impunity and imposition of candidates to avoid a repeat of past mistakes.
“I want to appeal to you to give to the party the very best in the positions that have been zoned to us. Let us therefore give to the party, men and women of impeccable integrity.
“Whatever the Fayoses of this world may be doing, the party has resolved that the presidential candidate will come from one of the three zones in the north”.
A former Special Duties Minister, Dr. Kabiru Taminu insisted that zoning was one of the principles recognised and entrenched in the party’s constitution.
Makarfi lauded the sacrifice made by delegates to the meeting.
Makarfi called for unity among members as the surest way for the PDP to regain power in 2019.
The chairman announced the decision of the Osun State chapter of the Labour Party to join the PDP as part of the reconciliation efforts.
Also at the enlarged meeting were former Governors Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada (Kogi); ex Governor Ramalan Yero (Kaduna); Babangida Aliyu (Niger); and Ibrahim Shema( Katsina).
Others include former Ministers Abba Moro, Adamu Maina Waziri Zainab Maina and Chief Fidelis Tapgun.
A former Deputy President of the Senate, Ibrahim Mantu, former National Woman Leader, Ina Ciroma and the chairman of the BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin also attended the meeting.