The Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Committee on the Review of the 2019 General Elections has recommended that the party should allow all aspirants from all parts of the country to contest for its 2023 presidential ticket.

The committee, which submitted its report to the leadership of the party on Wednesday, said though many people think special consideration should be given to the North East and South East geo-political zones for the sake of fairness and equity; merit, rather than zonal consideration, should be adopted in the choice of the party’s presidential flag bearer.

It said the two zones have had the shortest stints at the Presidency.

The committee was headed by the Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed.

Its members were the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, former senator, Stella Omu and Emmanuel Agbo, who served as secretary.

The committee’s recommendation, if adopted, would dash the hope of some of the members of the opposition party who had canvassed the zoning of the presidency exclusively to the south.

Last year, the governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, dumped the PDP for the ruling All Progressive Party (APC), because, according to him, the party had no plan to zone the position to the South East.

“In line with certain unwritten conventions of the nation’s history, many people think that for fairness and equity, the North-East and South-East geo-political zones that have had the shortest stints at the Presidency should be given special consideration in choosing the presidential flag bearer of the party for the 2023 elections,” Mr Mohammed said.

“While we admit that this is a strong argument, we should not lose sight of the fact that Nigeria is endowed with many capable and very experienced leaders in every part of the country.

“Moreover, the exigencies of the moment demand that nothing should be compromised in choosing the leader with the attributes to disentangle the country from the present quagmire.

“Therefore, we think that every Nigerian from every part of the country should be given the opportunity to choose the best candidate through a credible primary election, as a way of institutionalising a merit-based leadership recruitment process for the country.”

While recalling the recent #EndSARS protests organised by some youth in the country, the committee recommended that the PDP should set aside a certain percentage of elective and appointive positions should be reserved for youth and women.

It noted that the protests were a testimony that a new generation of young, bold, ambitious and detribalised Nigerians had taken the centre-stage, warning that it would be risky to ignore them.

Mr Mohammed said, “Cognisant of the generational and gender shifts all over the globe and the emergence of a new generation of Nigerians who are not held down by religion, ethnicity or such other primordial considerations, but who are determined to mainstream the country into global best practices, the party should set aside a certain percentage of elective and appointive offices for the youth and women.”

The committee asked the party to promote internal democracy and discourage “god-fatherism” in the choice of candidates, in order to allow the will of the people to prevail.

It also asked the party to advocate for genuine restructuring of the polity that fosters “decentralisation, engenders national unity, guarantees security of lives and properties of all Nigerians no matter where they reside in the country and which promotes economic prosperity and the overall well-being of all our people.”

Receiving the report of the committee, the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, said the party would set up an implementation committee soon.

“Relying on the recommendations of this report, the NWC will work with think tank(s), consultants and all critical stakeholders of our great party to enhance the new PDP narratives that will help address the yawning absence of leadership in the country. We will continue to build the party along the line of the recommendations with a view to cultivating a wide support base with utmost urgency towards 2023,” Mr Secondus said.

“I have no doubt in my mind that your report will form the bedrock of our party’s plan ahead of the 2023 general elections. The NWC is going to study and analyse your report meticulously and come up with a position that will be beneficial to the party.

“But we need to warn that the only thing keeping this country alive today is the fact that APC will be history by 2023. They are aware of this reality and they are trying to use their usual propaganda to create a different image of themselves but Nigeria knows better and cannot be fooled again.”

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