The 2023 presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will be open to all party members, National Chairman Uche Secondus said on Saturday.
“Everyone who is qualified, young, old, governors and non-governors, is qualified and will have the opportunity to contest, and we have the space for everyone,” Secondus said in Bauchi.
His handling of the crisis in the party in the Southwest is not sitting well with governors elected on the platform of the party, its Board of Trustees (BoT) and some other prominent groups and individuals.
Secondus’ position appears to contradict the calculations in some quarters that the party would automatically zone the ticket to the South, as President Muhammadu Buhari would have completed two terms of eight years for the north.
Secondus, who said the PDP remained committed to zoning, said there would be no discrimination in picking the party’s presidential flag bearer in 2023.
He said: ”Zoning is entrenched in our constitution, and at the right time, you (reporters) will hear from us. However, the party is very democratic. There is no room for discrimination.”
Secondus was accompanied to Bauchi by Governor Aminu Waziri Taibuwal of Sokoto State, former Senate President David Mark, former governor of Gombe State, Hassan Ibrahim Dankwambo and the Deputy National Chairman of the party, North, Senator Nazif Sulieman Gamawa.
The PDP delegation paid a solidarity visit to Governor Mohammed Bala.
Asked about the recent defection of former House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara and his supporters from the PDP to the APC following a disagreement with Bala, Secondus said the political space was wide enough for everyone to move as he wishes.
“There is no rift. The political space is so wide in Nigeria, and anyone that is not comfortable will move, and we have seen such moves before. They will move and come back. That is the assurance I want to give to you,” he said.
Also speaking, Governor Tambuwal asked President Muhammadu Buhari to deploy information communication technology in the fight against banditry, insurgency, kidnapping and other crimes ravaging parts of the country.
He said: “The situation is sad because bandits are carrying out atrocities and killing innocent people. The situation is improving in Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi states but the situation is getting worse in Katsina. I call on the President to take decisive steps to recruit more competent, qualified security personnel.
“The federal government should ensure that weapons are provided for the military to fight Boko Haram and give them their rights.
“The President must ensure that packages meant for soldiers reach them in terms of their rations, earnings, welfare and well-being. The Federal Government should deplore more ICT equipment to men at the forefront to forestall kidnappings and other crimes.”
Secondus’ statement is close to a recent statement by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State who said the PDP would be guided in picking its presidential candidate by what it thinks would make it win.
“As an opposition party, we look at all variables,” Wike said.
He added: “What will make us win the election should come first. That is what is important to us. The ruling party can say that (zoning), but for the opposition party, there are variables.”
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide (OYC) said last month that it had information that the PDP planned to pick its presidential candidate for the 2023 election from the north. It cautioned the opposition party against such action, saying Igbo President in 2023 is not negotiable.
The President-General of the group, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, and the Secretary-General, Mazi Okwu Nnabuike, advised Igbo politicians against accepting the vice-president slot.
The group said it was alarmed that despite voting massively for the PDP since 1999, the party might be treating the Igbo as “cows that must not only be milked but used to death.”
In a statement, the group said: “The OYC is irrevocably committed to the advancement of the Igbo nation. In the struggle to protect, promote and prosper the life and livelihood of the average Igbo man, the council will speak with courage and act with wisdom.
“The OYC is committed to the idea that the Igbo man would thrive best in a restructured Federal Republic of Nigeria. What the Igbo man seeks is not a helping hand. The Igbo man demands a level playing field.
“The Igbo man in Ihiala or Zungeru or Potiskum has invested his faith in Nigeria. He wants from Nigeria the sense of belonging of a first son—a shared sense of belonging with the Fulani and the Yoruba. He wants a platform for the maximization of his God-given potential.”