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Tuesday 26 September 2017

2019: Fayose To Declare Presidential Ambition On Thursday

2019: Fayose To Declare Presidential Ambition On Thursday

Barring any last minute change of mind, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State will on Thursday make a formal declaration to contest for the position of president of Nigeria in 2019 general election.

Quoting “a credible source close to the governor,” the paper said that Fayose, who hopes to realise his aspiration on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will make the declaration in Abuja

Lere Olayinka, Fayose’s Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, also confirmed the development in a chat with newsmen.

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Fayose’s dream of replacing President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Villa in 2019 had earlier received a boost as his party, the PDP, said he is free to pick the form of the party and contest as a presidential aspirant even though the party’s presidential ticket had already been zoned to the North.

It would be recalled that the PDP had already zoned the presidency to the North while the South will produce the national chairman of the party. The Southern caucus of the party had since met and zoned it to the South West.

Fayose’s ambition has already pitched him against some leaders of the party in the South West who believe that his ambition if realised may jeopardise the chances of the zone in producing the national chairman of the party.

Others have also rubbished Fayose’s ambition, describing it as a pipedream which cannot be realised given the fact that the party’s presidential ticket has already been zone to the North.

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According to Fayose, who said he is already seeing himself in Aso Villa, “I have penchant for taking powers; that one in Buhari’s hand, I will take it. I’m going straight to that Villa. I’m the next president.

“I want to be the next president of Nigeria. My own won’t be this change that has brought nothing, we are going to represent the people well and tell them the truth.”

Senator Ighoyota Amori, Special Adviser to the National Chairman, PDP, on Reconciliation and Conflict Management, said though the party has zoned the presidency to the North, it will leave the game open for any individual who feels he can upturn the party’s zoning formula.

He added that Fayose is free to aspire for the presidency under the PDP if he feels he can convince the delegates to vote for him as the presidential candidate.

He gave instances of what happened in the House of Representatives in 2011 when the PDP zoned the position of the Speaker to the South West but the position was eventually clinched by Aminu Tambuwal from the North West.

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According to him, “We have not changed our position that the presidential candidate will emerge from the North and the national chairman from the South.

The zoning has not changed but doesn't forget that when Sheriff was the interim chairman of the party, in his first convention, the national chairmanship position was zoned to the North. Actually, that was the beginning of the crisis.

“We went to Port Harcourt with the aim of the national chairman emerging from the North and within the North itself, it has been reduced in a way to the North East. Even within the North East, they in a way reduced it to Borno State. So, people saw that it appears there is a game plan.

“Judging from that and having realised that that will not be good for a mega party like PDP, we decided to make it open. So, in our second convention, we now changed it to say that the zoning of the party offices and even the executives should be on the basis of North and South.

“We changed from the Sheriff zoning formula to the Ahmed Makarfi zoning formula where the presidency will come from the North and the national chairman will emerge from the South. All other offices will be between the North and South.

This remains the party’s position and it has not changed. But one thing in the PDP is that we will leave the game open. This is the official zoning formula of the party but in democracy, people are free to exercise their rights.”

However, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, a former Minister of Transport and member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), has kicked against the idea, saying the party should adhere strictly to its zoning formula which says the North should produce the presidential candidate.

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“I will advise the PDP, which is my party, to adhere strictly to the fact that we have zoned the presidency to the North. If they permit the influx of candidates, that any candidate is free to contest, it will create unnecessary confusion in the party and that is dangerous.”

In a related development, a new twist has been added to the race for who becomes the national chairman of the PDP as informed sources on Monday told newsmen that majority of the governors and federal lawmakers are backing Jimi Agbaje, a former governorship candidate of the party in Lagos State, during the 2015 general election.

A credible source close to Agbaje said those rooting for him believe he is the best candidate from the South West to lead the party based on his political clout, integrity, passion and the fact that he doesn’t have baggage.

“You should understand the game. The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong. So, he is not going to come out and say he has an ambition. People are working underground for him.

“If at the end of the day the governors and other major stakeholders who indicated interest at the party’s botched convention still say Jimi Agbaje is the man they want, that is it. If today, they ask him to openly declare, of course he will do that.

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“But so far, they have not told him to do so. So, he is doing their bidding. But I know a lot of people are talking to a lot of people that Jimi Agbaje is the man they want. The significant people who matter in the party are working underground for him.”

When asked if he was aware that Agbaje is contesting, Chief Olabode George, one of the frontline aspirants for the chairmanship race, said he is not bothered about it.

“I am not bothered if he is contesting or not. Let him go ahead if he wants to contest or not”, he said.

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