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Presidency: PDP screens Atiku, Tambuwal, Wike, 14 others

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Ahead of the May 28 and 29 primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the  Committee on Screening led by a former President of the Senate, David Mark, has screened 17 presidential aspirants willing to run on the party’s platform in next year’s elections.

Blueprint Weekend gathered that the screening procedure included checking for their academic qualifications, their tax returns, party card, voter cards, financial capacity and their plans for Nigeria among others.

Those screened, Friday at the party annex office in Maitama, Abuja, were former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former Senate President Bukola Saraki; former Anambra Governor Peter Obi and Sokoto Governor, Aminu Tambuwal.

Also screened were; a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim; Bauchi state governor, Bala Mohammed; Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike; and Akwa Ibom state governor, Udom Emmanuel.

Others were renowned industrialist, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa; Mohammed Hayatu-Deen; a United States-based medical doctor, Nwachukwu Anakwenze; the publisher, Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu; former governor of Ekiti state, Ayo Fayose; Cosmos Ndukwe; Mr. Charles Ugwu; Chikwendu Kalu; and Tariele Diana Oliver.

Speaking to journalists after the exercise, Fayose harped on the need for the party to zone its presidential ticket to the South for “fairness, equity and justice.”

The former governor, who promised that if elected he would appoint a minister for stomach infrastructure and welfare, noted that: “You can tar all the roads here,  you can do every good work on infrastructure but when the people are not happy when people are not looked after, then you have done nothing.”

Speaking on the issues of zoning, he said: “I am for zoning and I believe the best thing this party can do for posterity, for tomorrow, so as not to cause confusion is for this party to zone this presidential ticket to the South.”

He recalled that in 1999 the Presidency was zoned to the South which brought former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief Olu Falaye as candidates of the two major political parties.

“Yes, despite zoning, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, still contested within the ambit of the Constitution but the party must remember, whatever we do today, will stand against us tomorrow.

“And we must be courageous enough to say this is going to the South. If you want to contest the Nigerian constitution still gives you the leverage, the opportunity to do so. I support zoning PDP 2023 presidential ticket to South.”

Party supremacy

On his part, the Akwa Ibom state governor said he would abide by any decision taken by the party.

Governor Emmanuel, alongside his counterparts in the South, has insisted that PDP zones its 2023 presidential ticket to the South.

According to him, “The party is supreme, if the party speaks we will all abide by what the party has said.”

On whether the number of presidential aspirants was of course for concern, he said: “I don’t see any problem. If there were not many aspirants, I would have been worried. Honestly, that’s where it would have been boring.

“The delegates will determine who will rescue and restore this country but trust me, whoever they will bring up as the candidate of the party will be one of the best that this country has ever produced.”

Similarly, while addressing journalists, former Anambra state governor Obi said care for Nigerian people should be more of a concern to all than zoning.

Obi said, “The party has the final say. If the party says this is where they want the party to go, if you’re a member of an organisation, you respect that organisation.

“And that is why I said, whatever we do, the most critical thing is what we do to pull Nigerians out of poverty and create a future for teeming unemployed youths of Nigeria.”

‘Consensus subsists’

The Bauchi state governor, Senator Mohammed, made a case for the North consensus arrangement that produced him and Saraki as the PDP aspirants, insisting that they cherished the arrangement

He said, “With regard to the consensus that you mentioned. This is something that we take away and something that we cherish so much coming from our community, not from the party.

“The party has a process of the emergence of candidates through the primaries, but what we did in the consensus is not new, it has been done before and some people have benefited from it.”

NWC’s warning on imposition, infringement

In a related development, the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) has warned party leaders, officials, and stakeholders, to refrain from any form of imposition, infringement and meddlesomeness in the three-man Ad-Hoc and National Delegate Congresses and Primaries slated for Saturday, April 30, 2022.

PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, in a press statement Friday in Abuja, said the directive was part of the resolution of the NWC at its 52nd meeting on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, to ensure credible, transparent, free and fair processes in the build-up to the 2023 general elections.

“The NWC advises party leaders, stakeholders and members at all levels to refrain from any form of imposition, infringement and meddlesomeness in the exercise adding that any evidence of infringement and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and the party’s electoral guidelines will attract serious consequences including the cancellation of the outcome of such ad-Hoc delegate congresses.

“The NWC, therefore, directs all members and officials of the party to respect and fully comply with the party’s constitution and the electoral guidelines in the conduct of the 3-man Ad-Hoc and National Delegates Congresses and Primaries,” the statement read in part.

The opposition party also directed that the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, with regard to consensus candidates, in the coming ad-hoc and national delegate elections must be observed in the conduct of the exercise.

It urged all party leaders, critical stakeholders and members to be guided accordingly.