Ali-Modu Sheriff, a former Borno governor and national chairmanship aspirant of the All Progressive Congress (APC) has stepped down from the race which is expected to wind down March 26.
Mr Sheriff, explaining to journalists at a news conference in Abuja on Sunday, said the need to respect the zoning formula of the ruling party informed his decision.
He also said he was stepping down from the race because President Muhammadu Buhari has adopted the zoning formula of APC which zoned the position to North-Central in the template released weeks ago.
“I am sure that most of you have been following the trends of activities of our party, the APC within the last 10 days or so,” he said. “The party has taken a position that the position of its national chairman should go to the North Central, meaning it is exclusively zoned to contestants of the zone.
“The President is the leader of the party and he has taken a position. I have always told you that I will contest if the position is zoned to my zone.
“That has been my statement always, and today they have taken a position. I respect the president as a person and as a president, he is my leader, therefore, I do not want to oppose him in any way or form.
“I Ali-Modu Sheriff, will not offer myself for the contest of the APC national chairmanship position slated for Saturday, March 26, because it has been zoned out of my zone.
“I am from the North-East. North Central where the position had been zoned to is made of Kogi, Kwara, Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau, these are the places where the party’s next national chairman will come from.
“Borno is North-East of Nigeria. I want you to communicate to all our followers, men and women across the country so that they do not expect to see my name on the ballot paper.
“But if the party changes its mind between today and Friday and says everybody can contest, within 12 hours one can fill a form.
“But as long as the position is zoned to the North Central. I’m not going to be party to that,” he stressed.
Currently, about five aspirants have reportedly purchased the expression of interest and nomination forms pegged at N20million.
The aspirants include: Saliu Mustapha, a former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressives Congress (CPC), and George Akume, Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs.
Others are: Sani Musa, Tanko Al Makura and a former Governor of Zamfara, Abudulaziz Yari.