By Emmanuel Afonne
Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, a Board of Trustee (BoT) member of People Democratic Party (PDP), says Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, cannot contest in the party’s primary poll for 2019 presidential election.
He stated this on Thursday in Abuja shortly after Fayose’s formal declaration of his intention to contest for the position of president of Nigeria in 2019 on PDP’s platform.
Nwodo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that PDP’s ideology forbade Fayose and other members from the South from contesting in the presidential race in 2019.
He said that the ideology would be followed to the letter in spite Fayose’s declaration.
“Fayose cannot run and I will tell you my reason.
“When we formed PDP, the first battle we fought and won as a party was to zone the presidency to the South.
“Those of us from the south made a case because in the first republic, prime minister was from the North; in the second republic, the president was from the North, and in the third republic, a southerner won and the election was annulled.
“There was no way we could go back to the south and say let’s elect a northerner again without giving the south a slot.
“A decision was taken that the presidency should come from the south and the chairman of the party to come from the north.
“That was how Solomon Lar became the chairman of PDP and secretary was zoned to the south; that was how I became the first secretary of the party,’’ he said.
Nwodo, a former National Chairman of PDP, said that the party would take a decision to ensure that its Constitution and ordinances were respected.
He explained that those who tried it in the past failed to achieve their aim.
“For example, late Abubakar Rimi, former Governor of Kano State paid for a form and wanted to run.
“Then I was the national secretary, I returned his cheque and informed him that the party had taken a decision that the presidential candidate could only come from southern Nigeria.
“When we went to the Convention in Jos, he went to the venue and started to campaign without having a form because we didn’t give him.
“We had to get some party leaders around to go and counsel him; we didn’t want security agencies to manhandle or embarrass him and good counsel prevailed and he stepped down.
“That was what PDP did and now we did not only zone the presidency to the north, we have re-emphasised at every opportunity we had that the zoning will take place.
“So, the party will not collect expression of interest money from anybody else who is not from the North and will not issue him a nomination form to contest; no, we will not do that,’’ he added.
But, Fayose had in a letter to PDP leaders insisted that his ambition to be president was without prejudice to the party’s position, adding that it was in the interest of the party and Nigeria.