*As Iyorchia Ayu warns PDP must drop impunity, dictatorship ahead convention
Elders of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Wednesday, converged on Abuja to harmonise the party’s stand on the zoning arrangement, ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The region resolved to produce the presidential candidate in 2019, saying nothing would alter the zoning formula of the party.
Convener of the meeting and former Information Minister, Professor Jerry Gana, while welcoming delegates from the North-East, North-West and North Central, tasked the party to elect the best candidates in accordance with the zoning formula of the party.
According to him, the recent declaration of a presidential ambition by Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, should be dismissed, and that the party’s position on the Presidency in 2019 is sacrosanct.
Gana said: “I want to appeal to you to give to the party the very best in the positions that have been zoned to us. Let us, therefore, give to the party, men and women of impeccable integrity.
“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.”
On his part, Chairman, PDP National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, lauded the sacrifice of delegates to the meeting, saying the fact that they paid their way to Abuja, took care of their accommodation and feeding, was a pointer to their unflinching loyalty to the PDP project.
On the zoning of the Presidency to the North, Makarfi reiterated the commitment of the party to honour the agreement, stressing that those bent on indicating interest in elective positions should not be barred from doing so, provided that the zoning formula was respected.
He said: “The Port Harcourt convention remains valid and one of the decisions taken at that convention was zoning. Micro-zoning does not have binding effect.
“If a position is zoned to the North and you are from the North and you come to buy form, we will sell for you,” he said.
He also reminded party members not to forget that “people will not get tired of taking the PDP to court.”
The chairman further called for unity, without which the party would find it difficult to stage a comeback to power in 2019.
On the progress made so far in the reconciliation efforts by the party, Makarfi said the entire machinery of Labour Party in Osun State had resolved to join the PDP in a matter of days.
In the same vein, Chairman, Board of Trustees of the PDP, Senator Walid Jubrin, charged all party members to show respect for the zoning arrangements as agreed by all organs of the party at the May 21 convention of the party in Port Harcourt.
He 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.
While pointing out that the North is blessed with so many capable politicians, Jubrin added: “We must be able to take a decision that will be acceptable to the North and the country”.
For Dr. Ahmadu Ali, ex-National Chairman of the PDP, the way forward for the party was a united front where “mini meetings” if they should hold “must get the approval of the national chairman.”
Apparently worried by the show of interest in the national chairmanship by other geo-political zones, Dr. Ali called on the north to support the South-West’s aspiration without fear or favour.
He said: “Let us stop these mini meetings. Any of such meetings must get the approval of the national chairman.
“We must be ready to ensure that at the convention, the main issue, which is the national chairmanship of the party, is well handled. If we don’t vote the South-West, we can as well forget the PDP.”
Taking a sightly different position on Fayose’s Presidential declaration, former Acting National Chairman of the party, Dr. Bello Haliru, called for sanctions, noting that zoning and rotation of offices had always been given a pride of place in the affairs of the party.
Also speaking at the meeting, former Senate President, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, said the PDP must put an end to impunity and dictatorship as preparations for the convention intensified.
He also urged the party to leverage on its presence at the grassroots to return to power in 2019.
“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 governments in the country. If we mobilise them, we will return to power.
“What makes this party to stand strong till now was that that great emphasis was given to the people and their decisions,” Ayu said.