Northern PDP Leaders Slam Fayose, Insist On Sanctity Of Zoning
Top leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the northern part of the country yesterday declared that there is no going back on the approved zoning arrangement for 2019 election which cedes the presidency to the North and party chairman to South.
The northern stakeholders frowned at the action of the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, who recently declared interest in the presidential race under the platform of the party, in disregard of the zoning formula of the party.
The party leaders who rose from a meeting in Abuja, warned him and others who might want to toe his line to desist from playing spoilers game, adding that the zoning of the presidential ticket to the North by the 2015 national convention is sacrosanct.
The outrage by the northern PDP stakeholders came just as the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, clarified the position of the party on the issue of micro-zoning of other national executive offices, saying it is not binding on members.
While some of the leaders advocated sanctions against the governor for disobeying the party’s zoning arrangement, others argued that in as much as zoning of the two key offices has been endorsed, those who wish to try their luck would be allowed to do so.
Governor Fayose, who hails from Ekiti State in the South-west, had jolted the party leadership when he formally declared his presidential ambition in Abuja a fortnight ago. But speaking at the meeting, Makarfi maintained that the zoning arrangement as approved by the national convention still stands.
He maintained that while the North will produce the president, the southern zone is to produce the chairman of the party. Makarfi stated that while micro zoning is not binding on the party, he stressed the need for constructive engagement over the choice of who emerges.
He explained that the Supreme Court in its judgment last July affirmed the supremacy of the party’s national convention and decision taken therein.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we asked the National Publicity Secretary to issue a statement affirming that the zoning approved by the Port Harcourt convention remains valid and binding.
“I want to also expatiate that the Supreme Court affirmed the supremacy of the the convention. The Supreme Court, in affirming the authenticity of the caretaker committee, has also affirmed the decisions of the convention.
“One of the decision taken at the convention is the setting up of the National Caretaker Committee and the zoning of the presidency and party chairmanship,” Makarfi recalled.
He however, called for caution so that the intentions of the Supreme Court might not be misinterpreted.
He noted that while zoning arrangement between the North and the South is recognised by the party, micro-zoning is not binding on anybody, adding that the PDP would not deny anybody the right to seek any political office to void litigations.
“If a position is zoned to the North and you are from the North and you come to buy form, we will sell to you,” he said, adding: “People will not get tired of taking the PDP to court.
“That is why I am saying that consultation and consensus remain the best option. Former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, who was one of the conveners of the meeting, dismissed Fayose’s presidential ambition as he said that PDP had already zoned the presidency to the north.
“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,” said Gana added.
He, however, advised the northern region to go for the best in selecting the party’s presidential candidate for the 2019.“Let us therefore give to the party, men and women of impeccable integrity,” he added.
Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin, advised all zones in the North to come together and look inward with a view to agreeing on who to push forward for the exalted position.
“We must be able to take a decision that will be acceptable to the North and the country,” he added. A former acting National Chairman of the party, Dr. Bello Haliru, outrightly called for sanctions against those going against the zoning arrangement of the party.
He said: “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 zone 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,” he said.
Also, a former Senate President, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, said the PDP must put an end to impunity and dictatorship as preparations for the convention intensify.
“The PDP is a party that was formed to fight dictatorship; it’s an anti-dictatorship party. Let’s stop imposing candidates and allow them to emerge through electoral democracy or through consensus.
“We have representation in all the 774 local government s in the country. If we mobilise them, we will return to power,” Ayu said.
Chairman of the Former Ministers Forum, Mr. Tanimu Turaki, maintained that all PDP members must obey the party’s zoning formula.
“We believe that our party haven taking the position on zoning, every legitimate party member must respect it. Zoning is legal. It is legitimate and it is what has given us peace over the year.
“At the end of this meeting we must come up with a decision that the north is capable of producing legitimate president for the country by 2019.
“Therefore we must come up with person with credible character that can win the votes of Nigerians.”
Present at the meeting were former Governors Ibrahim Idris, Idris Wada (Kogi), Ramalan Hero (Kaduna), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano), Ibrahim Schema (Katsina), and erstwhile Ministers, Abba Moro( Internal Affairs), Others are Adamu Maina Waziri (Police Affairs), Kabiru Turaki (Special Duties) and Zainab Maina (Women Affairs), former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, former National Woman Leader, Ina Ciroma.