JOSTLING for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, national chairmanship and other slots zoned to the North got keener, weekend, with party leaders from the region scheduling a meeting for Wednesday to harmonise positions.
Currently, no fewer than nine aspirants from the three zones of the North have indicated interest to lead the PDP.
They include Ibrahim Shema, and Senator Ahmed Makarfi, from North West; former Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo, Senator Suleiman Nazif, and a serving deputy national chairman of the party, from the North-East.
In the North Central, there are former Senate President, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, former Kogi State Governor Idris Ibrahim, Professor Jerry Gana, former Senate President David Mark, and former Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu.
A source told Vanguard that when Northern leaders of PDP met at the Bauchi Governor’s Lodge, Abuja, on Thursday night, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom tried to sell Iyorchia Ayu to them as a consensus candidate but the move was stiffly resisted.
However, the source said the leaders decided that each of the three zones should produce one candidate each for a meeting that will hold on Wednesday.
Some northern governors, it was gathered, had been working with their southern colleagues on the Ayu project.
Those, who opposed the Ayu consensus candidacy project, argued that there were other solid candidates who were interested and that such candidates must be given a chance as well.
Thus, the Wednesday meeting will reduce the number of chairmanship candidates to one.
“The three candidates from each of the zones will be allowed to be voted for and the North will present a consensus candidate,” an insider told Vanguard.
Apart from Ayu, a source said that the likely candidates from the three zones are Ibrahim Shema for North-West, Ibrahim Idris from North-Central and Ibrahim Dankwanbo from North-East.
If the three emerge, the contest will be an all Ibrahim affair.
In support of Ayu’s candidacy, Ortom was said to have raised the issue of having a Christian chairman to pacify Christians. His agitation, sources said made Jerry Gana, another Christian, to join the race.
Also, Babangida Aliyu from Niger State, indicated interest, making the North-Central to have a glut of aspirants.
Don’t leave presidency open —Bode George
Meanwhile, former Deputy National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olabode George, yesterday, warned that any zoning arrangement that gives north the Chairmanship position of the party and leaves the Presidency open is incongruous, unwholesome and a recipe for disaster.
George, in a statement urged the party leadership to abide by the zoning arrangement laid down by its founding fathers.
He said: “The six key positions are the President, Vice President, National Chairman, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF.
“All these positions are zoned because of the necessity of national belonging and accommodation.
“Every section of this nation must have a sense of equitable participation in our national life. This has been the enduring pivot of our democratic experience since 1999.
“There is now a threat to this unwritten doctrine. In a nation reeling with divisive politics, marred with discord and ethnic distrust, it is rather inexplicable that the stakeholders in our party cannot be firm and decisive about an issue that will inevitably affect the future of our party and the nation.
“This is not the time for uncertainties and half measures. Our vision must be clear. Our goal must be certain. Our resolve must be sincere.
“We can only reclaim the center in 2023 only if every section of this great nation is treated as co-equal and a significant partner in the national voyage.
“There is no other way. Zoning of all the six key offices will continue to ensure a strong and healthy democratic nation anchored on the fairness doctrine.
“I am using this opportunity to call on all stakeholders to come together and reaffirm this great vision of our founding fathers.
“Let us do what is right. Let us do what is proper. Let us revisit the precedents that have sustained us and put us in good stead among Nigeria people.
“This is my advice to all the ranks and files of the party. And this is the only way we can appeal to the generality of our people and win the presidency in 2023.”