Afenifere, Ohanaeze Threats Over Presidential Candidates Unsettle PDP

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The threats by socio-cultural groups, Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndigbo, that any political party that presents a northerner as its presidential candidate will be rejected at the polls is unsettling the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, The PUNCH has learnt.

The 13 PDP governors including the PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, are currently in Port Harcourt where several issues pertaining to the 2023 Presidential election are being discussed.

Having held its national convention and put its house in order since last November, the party is now looking at how its Presidential candidate will emerge.

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State had revealed in October that Governor Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Governor Bala Mohammed (Bauchi) and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar had all indicated their desire to contest the Presidential election.

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, had also visited Bauchi recently where he drummed support for the Presidential ambition of Governor Mohammed.

But sources within the PDP told The PUNCH on Monday that the threats by southern socio-political groups were unsettling the party.

“The truth is that the PDP believes that giving the ticket to a northerner will boost its chances of victory. They think they already have the support of the South-East and South-South. So, all they will need is to get a strong northerner as the Presidential candidate that can deliver northern votes at a time when Buhari will not be on the ballot.

However, these new threats by Afenifere and Ohanaeze are now causing trouble for the party,” a PDP chieftain said.

In a chat with Arise TV on Monday, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim, said the failure of political parties to zone the Presidency to the South-East in 2023 will be a burden on the conscience of the nation.

He said, “There is also an agreement about the zoning principle regarding rotation between the north and the south” in the PDP constitution.”

The former Senate President said the South-East ought to produce the next President.

He added, “In the PDP constitution, there is also an agreement about the zoning principle regarding rotation between the North and the South with the region micro zoning amongst themselves

“The reason is because every section of the country must have a sense of belonging; not following it will be a burden on the conscience of the nation.”

Speaking with The PUNCH on Monday, a former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Bode George, said indeed the issue of zoning was a sensitive matter.

George, however, said he was confident that the party would be able to resolve its challenges. He, therefore, asked socio-cultural groups to be patient with the party.

He said, “I know that when we get to that bridge we will cross it. I believe in the sanctity and the wisdom of our elders in the PDP. We will put all the parameters in the equation and we will sit down and discuss it.

“We conceptualised zoning and we started it for the sake of fairness. But as I said, we will meet, discuss and X-ray it and see the impact. We will hold very robust debates. That is the culture of our party. There is no kingmaker in the PDP who will be the oracle. We will discuss and debate in the interest of the sanctity of Nigeria.”

The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Debo Ologunagba, could not be reached for comment on Monday as he did not respond to calls.

In an earlier statement, however, the PDP spokesman said no decision had been taken on the issue of zoning and the party leadership would meet and consult before such a decision is taken.

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