South-South governors demand PDP presidential ticket, as party insists on open race for the ticket

Uyo—The South-South leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) consisting of governors, federal lawmakers, former governors, and other stakeholders has demanded that the PDP presidential ticket is zoned to the region “in the spirit of fairness, equity, and justice.”

According to reports by the Nation newspaper, the demand was made in a communique of the summit held in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital on Monday, with the theme “Engendering a South-South agenda for 2023 and beyond.”

The south-south leaders warned that the party might lose the opportunity to retake power if it failed to allow its stronghold to produce the candidate.

Speaking at the meeting earlier, the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike asked the PDP to treat the south-south geo-political zone with fairness, justice, and equity.

The governor stated that the PDP ought to compensate the region with the party presidential ticket having consistently voted for the PDP since 1999 till date.

Wike said: “The South-South is the pillar of the PDP. If the South-South is the pillar of the PDP, they must be treated with fairness, justice, and equity.

“It is not only when it comes to working, it is not only when it comes to giving votes that we will all remember that the South-South is the pillar. When it also comes in terms of sharing, they should remember that this is the pillar of the party.”

Wike also charged his colleagues including National Assembly members and other stakeholders to unite in the overall interest of the PDP.

“We have all said that Nigerians are waiting for PDP to take over in 2023. That is true. But we cannot take over if we are not united. We cannot take over if don’t work together.

“It is for us to put our house together and make Nigerians proud because if we don’t take over in 2023, Nigerians will never forgive PDP. We must take this opportunity and make Nigerians happy,” he said.

Similarly, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, supported the position of the South-South governors.

He said, “The zone is fully in support of the position of the Southern Governor’s forum that the next President of Nigeria must come from the Southern part of Nigeria.”

Also at the meeting were Governors Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom); Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Douye Diri (Bayelsa).

Other dignitaries in attendance included PDP National Vice Chairman (South-south), Chief Dan Orbih; Senator George Sekibo; former Deputy House of Reps Speaker, Austin Opara; former governors Liyel Imoke (Cross River) and Celestine Omehia (Rivers).

However, Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki was the only South-South PDP governor absent at the meeting.

Meanwhile, the PDP spokesman, Debo Ologunagba, who spoke with newsmen said the party cannot stop leaders from other regions of the country who have intentions to contest for the Presidency on the platform of the party.

He added that chieftains seeking to fly the flag of the party have not broken any rule and said Atiku and Saraki were exercising their fundamental human rights, which guarantee their aspiration to leadership positions in the country.

Ologunagba said: “They did not jump the gun as you inferred. The constitution of the PDP, and indeed the Nigerian constitution, did not empower the party leadership to abridge the rights of any party member or any Nigerian for that matter.

“Let me make it clear that Atiku, Saraki, or any other aspirant collecting the nomination form at this point, cannot stop the 37-man committee from doing its job.

“To make it clearer; even if the committee eventually zones the presidential ticket to a particular part of the country, it does not take away the right of other qualified and interested individuals to contest.

“The PDP is a party of laws and regulations. We do things following our laws and procedures, and in line with the constitution of Nigeria.

“You would recall that during our last national convention, there was a committee set up by NEC on issues of zoning, which made recommendations that were accepted and implemented by NEC.

“But there were some people who were interested in contesting and they still went ahead to contest for positions based on their convictions. So, there is nothing out of place in what is unfolding.”

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