September 30, 2022

The group of northern presidential aspirants under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presently holding consultations with stakeholders and being coordinated by former President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, has dismissed the suggestion that it is trying to get consensus to the pave way for a northern presidential candidate.

The group, made up of Saraki, Governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) and Bala Mohammed (Bauchi) as well as Muhammed Hayatu-Deen, met with Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State at his lodge in Asokoro, Abuja on Tuesday as they sought his buy-in in the move to reach consensus on the zoning of the PDP presidential ticket for next year’s election.

Speaking at the end of the meeting on behalf of the group, Saraki debunked the assertion that their objective is to ensure the emergence of a northern candidate as the PDP consensus flagbearer.

He pointed out that other aspirants who are also meeting separately with stakeholders will soon meet with the group to advance the search for a consensus.

The former Kwara State governor stated: “I think we’ve emphasized this at the visits we’ve done around the country that it is not just a northern agenda. When we started about a few weeks ago, about three weeks now, most of the aspirants we met were mainly in the north.

“We’re talking to the aspirants across the country now because more people have come out from the South. All the aspirants are going to meet because we are talking about a Nigerian. We’re not talking about a southern or a northern aspirant.

“And I have good news that already, moves are being made by the aspirants in the South to meet and eventually, all aspirants, we will all meet and see one consensus and that consensus is a Nigerian that represents all the groups.

“So, I just want to be clear about that just to reassure it is not about the issue of a northern consensus. Not at all. It is a consensus for the PDP.”

Saraki added that they want to create a platform where the aspirants can unite as a party that hopes to take over the government, stressing that Nigerians have continued to endure hardship and insecurity under the present administration.

He further said: “We have just finished discussions. The four of us, are aspiring to be the president under our great party and we are going out, talking to colleagues, stakeholders on how to unite with us now are aspirants in the sense that we create a platform of a party that is going to take over the government.

“We see the hardship of Nigerians, the issue of insecurity, we had an incident just two days ago and 135 people that died in Plateau,” also alluding to the recent attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train, which has seen families groaning over their loved ones affected.

“With the hardship, the high cost of living, it is clear that it is only the PDP that can reverse it and rescue this country,” Saraki stated, adding that the group is determined to ensure the success of the consensus arrangement to enable the PDP to win the election.

In his response, Governor Ugwuanyi thanked the group for the visit but insisted that any zoning must be based on fairness, equity and justice to make it meaningful.

He said: “Your Excellencies, I can’t thank God enough for granting all of you journey mercies. On behalf of the good people of Enugu State, I formally welcome each and every one of you.

“I’d like to say this. I welcome consensus based on justice, equity and fairness. Thank you.”

Meanwhile, the PDP Zoning Committee headed by Governor Sam Ortom of Benue State has submitted its report to the national leadership of the party.

The vice-chairman of the committee and Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu submitted it to the PDP National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu in Abuja on Tuesday.

He affirmed that the decision of the committee, which he declined to disclose, was reached unanimously.

Elumelu said: “Every member of the 37 man zoning committee had ample opportunity to make their submissions. Arising from our inability to conclude, we shifted it to the 5th of April and on that 5th, we also unanimously and collectively reached a united decision to promote the interests of the party and we came up with the resolution.

“I am not, by virtue of the terms of reference, allowed to roll out the content of the resolution because our job is to finish, submit and theirs to take a decision. So, I believe that is the NEC that has the statutory rights to release the content of what we have done.”

“I must say that it was unanimously carried and all the signatures of all the members of the zoning committee are there for you,” he added.

While receiving the report, Ayu thanked the committee on behalf of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, noting that they performed the task without rancour.

He added: “This decision will be known to party members across the country and all Nigerians who are eagerly awaiting the final decision of your committee.”

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