The issue of consensus presidential candidate may prove a high hurdle for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), at its forthcoming primary election next month.
Signs of that possibility emerged recently when some party stalwarts mooted the idea of ceding the presidential ticket to the northeast geopolitical zone of the country.
Against the backdrop of agitations for the party to micro-zone the presidential slot to the northeast, frontline presidential aspirant and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, recently visited Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo of Gombe State with a view to averting the fate that befell the Southwest zone over the PDP’s national chairmanship.
PDP had at its national convention in Port Harcourt, two years ago zoned the presidential ticket to the north and the national chairmanship to the South.
Attempts to have the party micro-zone the office of national chairman to southwest hit the rocks as the PDP’s leadership maintained that the position of its highest caucus, which is the convention, could not be altered or reviewed by any other organ.
Consequently, faced with a similar scenario, the northeast zone contends that it should be allowed to fly the party’s flag in the 2019 poll, since it is the only zone that is yet to contest the presidency in the north.
During his visit to Dankwambo in Gombe, Atiku canvassed the need for the zone to present a single candidate and go to the convention as a united front.
Also, the Director-General of Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organization, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, pleaded with Dankwambo not to allow himself to be used by enemies of the zone to play the spoiler against the former vice president, stressing that in Yoruba culture, a younger man should demure to the elder.
But, reacting to insinuations that PDP has zoned the presidential ticket to Northeast, the immediate past national caretaker chairman of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, said nothing has been ceded to any zone for now, stressing that all aspirants are free to canvass votes.
While maintaining that he remains in the contest, Makarfi said he was reaching out to Nigerians in the United States and Britain to sell his ideas and programmes, adding that when the party begins the sale of forms, it would be clear whether there is any micro-zoning.
Also, a former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, said contrary to insinuations in some quarters, he has not dropped his presidential aspiration, saying that the party was providing a level playground for all aspirants, including those that might join the PDP before the primary.
Lamido said: “PDP has learnt from its past mistakes and there is nothing like imposition or exclusion. A transparent presidential primary would produce the party’s flagbearer. We are committed to supporting whoever emerges as the presidential candidate at the end of eth day.”
PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, said the decision as to who flies the party’s presidential flag belongs to members, stressing that when the time comes nobody would dictate to the PDP.
He stressed that all presidential aspirants were united in the common vision of reclaiming the country and uniting it for progress and prosperity, adding that the party was determined to meet the expectations of Nigerians and preserve democracy.