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6 Aug 2017

PDP ex-governors, ministers on warpath over 2019 presidential ticket

•Convention to extend Makarfi committee’s tenure by three months
•Party leaders seek terms for defectors from APC, other parties

Either goes the 2019 presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?

Northeast or Northwest?

That is the all important question now agitating the minds of top members of the party as they try to put their acts together ahead of the next presidential race.

Some members of the party are said to be rooting for the presidential candidate to emerge from the Northwest which they believe will curtail the influence of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the geo-political zone.

President Muhammadu Buhari is from that zone.

The PDP members in favour of the zone say putting a candidate forward from there will go a long way in winning votes that would ordinarily go the way of Buhari or his choice.

Some other members prefer the Northeast which they think has always been overlooked.

The division on the slot is likely to be resolved at the party’s national convention in November.

The Nation gathered that party leaders are seeking stronger terms or conditions for defectors from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and other parties.

Besides, PDP leaders will on August 12, extend the tenure of the Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee to November to afford the party more time for consultation   on the presidential ticket, it was gathered last night.

Some PDP governors are said to have asked the party leadership to disband the activities of the former Ministers Forum, rubbishing it as illegal and extraneous to PDP Constitution.

The former minister forum itself is not folding its arms.

It is poised to do battle with a South-South governor and others who want to be Vice Presidential candidate to a serving APC governor.

Party sources said last night that  PDP leaders have ruled out giving the ticket to the North-Central because of its “weak voting strength and the Northern minority factor.”

A top party source said: “We are only weighing options on whether the slot should go to the Northwest or the Northeast.

“Most of our leaders prefer the Northwest to give President Muhammadu Buhari or his anointed candidate a good fight.

“Although a few of our leaders want the slot for the North-East, there are fears that some defectors from the zone might hijack the ticket. We need to be careful.

“To checkmate these defectors from APC and other parties, our leaders are pushing for stringent terms for getting certain things, including elective post tickets, from the party.

“We will certainly work on limited or restricted waiver for defectors. We won’t allow those who sought to destroy our party to return through the backdoor and appropriate our tickets at all levels.” The source said party leaders would avoid a situation where the issue of 2019 presidential ticket would “divide us at the August 12 national convention.”

The source added: “Our leaders have resolved to extend the tenure of Makarfi led Caretaker Committee by three months.

“We believe by November, we would have done enough consultations and put our house in order to decide the zone (between North-West and North-East) which will produce our presidential candidate”

Meanwhile a fresh crisis of confidence has broken out in PDP between some governors and the Former Ministers Forum.

The affected governors, who have ambition to be Vice President, have been uncomfortable with the growing influence of the Forum.

They alleged that the Forum is not only illegal but extraneous to the PDP Constitution.

Investigation showed that the affected governors were behind an amorphous group, Committee for Justice and Fairness (CJF) allegedly formed to checkmate the Ministers Forum The new group in a statement last night took a swipe at the Former Ministers Forum.

It said: “We want to bring to your attention the very disruptive and reckless activities of the so-called Former Ministers Forum.

“This group, which has no constitutional or any formalistic bearing to the structural integrity of our great party, has somehow assumed the role of a primary arbiter in the affairs of our great party as the tin-horn characters go about pontificating about issues far beyond their assumed authority and position.

“It is rather disgraceful, annoying, obstructionist and evil straying into a deliberate sabotaging of the present peace of our party when the so-called former ministers are bent on destroying the already long-established consensus reached at Port Harcourt that the next National Chairman of our party should come from the South-West.

“This very historic consensus is not only fair and just. It is very appropriate and complements the well-known fairness doctrine.

“For out of all the six zones of our national union, the Southwest is the only zone which has been deprived of this prime honour.

“To now deprive our zone of what is appropriately our just desert is condemnable, invidious, cruel and unfair. It is virtually unacceptable.

“We urge the leadership of the Caretaker Committee and all allied leadership of our party to call these people to order. They should stop, henceforth, from sowing the seeds of discord and confusion in our party.

“We are just emerging from a long nightmare inflicted on our party by agent provocateurs. We must never tread the same abominable road again.”

However,the Forum asked the affected governors to shut up because the ex-ministers sustained the party in its darkest and challenging moment.

A reliable source in the forum said: “We know that some of these governors who want Vice Presidential ticket in 2019 are trying to influence Makarfi’s Caretaker Committee to ignore or disband the Forum.

” We are aware that one of the governors from the Southsouth has already initiated talks with a serving APC governor to serve as a running mate during the 2019 poll.

“The party can ignore our Forum at its own peril. Like gamblers, some of these governors were shuttling between Makarfi and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff when our party was in crisis. But this Forum was consistent and it did its best to give strong support to Makarfi. Now, the ambitious governors do not see anything good in the Forum. We are ready for a long drawn battle with them.”

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