The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday rejected suggestions that it had zoned its 2023 presidential ticket to the North, as it sought to calm the nerves of agitated members across the nation.
The party disowned the Friday statement credited to the immediate past governor of Niger State, Alhaji Babangida Aliyu, that the North would produce the PDP flag bearer in the election.
Despite the PDP disclaimer, misgivings persisted in the six geo-political zones on which part of the country would get the ticket: North or South.
The party had earlier indicated that the ticket would be thrown open for aspirants from all parts of the country to contest.
The Nation also gathered that the ranks of the governors elected on the platform of the PDP may have been seriously divided following allegations and counter allegations over alleged moves to force the new leadership of the party to endorse the zoning of the presidential ticket to the north as part of the strategy to win the next presidential election.
Party sources said consultations and horse-trading on the ticket were increasing by the day.
A PDP senator from the Southeast told The Nation that some chieftains of the party from the zone, during the yuletide break, had cause to confront PDP governors in the zone over indications that the party might zone its presidential ticket to the north.
The lawmaker said the issue was generating concerns across the zone.
“During the Christmas break, following widespread indications that our party may be preparing to endorse the zoning of the presidential ticket to the north on the assumption that only a northern candidate can defeat the APC in 2023, myself and some other chieftains from Igboland met with some of our governors to seek their opinion on the matter,” he said.
“It may interest you to know that majority of them claimed ignorance of the development and recalled that the decision of the PDP is to leave the contest for the ticket open for all comers.
“But they promised to investigate the rumour and ensure nothing of such happens. All through the festive period, we were consulting and holding meetings on the worrisome development.”
Party sources added that the claim by former Governor Aliyu that the party has decided on a presidential candidate from the North has further created rumpus within the opposition party.
The Nation gathered that Aliyu’s statement is being interpreted as a revelation of a plot by some individuals and groups within the PDP ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
Aliyu had said that the PDP had agreed to pick its candidate for the 2023 presidential race from one of the zones in the north.
He spoke when the Atiku Support Organisation visited him in Minna.
“In our zoning agreement, we have agreed to re-zone the North as requested by others but we have agreed written openly as a result of what has happened that any candidate from any part of the country can now contest this election,” he said.
PDP disowns ex-governor over zoning of presidential ticket
Jolted by the tension sparked within the party by the ex-governor’s statement, the PDP, through its National Publicity Secretary Debo Ologunagba, said there was nothing of the sort.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP emphatically and unequivocally states that it has not zoned it presidential ticket to any part of the country,” Ologunagba said in a statement.