The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has sidelined zoning its 2023 presidential ticket.

“We must rescue the country from where it is today, and in doing that, we do not have to think of where the next President would come from, but the ability, experience and integrity to work,” says the mouthpiece of the opposition party, Debo Ologunagba. “In the PDP, persons from every part of the country will be allowed to contest, but we can only boast that the primary will be free, fair, transparent and credible. We cannot be talking about zones in deciding on who becomes the presidential candidate of the party.

Mr Ologunagba made this known in an interview with Punch Newspapers against the backdrop that the party will zone its presidential ticket to the South, shutting out aspirants from other geo-political zones.

With the new development, opposition chieftains from the North like, Atiku Abubakar, former vice president; Bukola Saraki, former Senate President; Governors Bala Mohammed and Aminu Tambuwal of Bauchi and Sokoto states respectively who are eyeing the top office will be allowed to participate during the primary election.

Of all the aspirants that have declared interest so far, only Mr Saraki from the North has made his public. PDP aspirants from the South that has declared interest include, Anyim Pius Anyim, former Senate President and Sam Ohuabunwa, a former Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.

“Everybody that qualifies to run and is interested will be allowed to run,” the national publicity secretary of the PDP added. “Nobody will be stopped. We will be guided by the party’s and the country’s constitutions.

“We won’t shut anybody out of the electoral process. When the time comes, all organs of the party will however be involved in the decision-making process on the guidelines for the party’s presidential primary. These organs include the ward, local government, state, zonal executives, the National Assembly members, Board of Trustees and the National Executive Committee of the party.”

Prior to this, Southern socio-cultural groups including Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndigbo have been clamouring for the two major political parties to zone their tickets down South.

The 17 southern states governors towed same line, insisting power should rotate back to South when President Muhammadu Buhari from the North completes his tenure next year.

But individuals and groups in the North including Northern Elders Forum (NEF) are opposed to the governors’ demand, arguing that its region has the numerical strength to retain power for as long as it wants since the country is practicing democracy.