Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: PDP - No Automatic Tickets for Jonathan, Governors in 2015

The PDP yesterday said it will hold free primaries for all positions for the 2015 elections, contrary to a report that said the party is undertaking a constitution review that would guarantee automatic tickets for President Jonathan and first-term governors.

A statement in Abuja yesterday by spokesman of the party Olisa Metuh said there was no move to amend the People's Democratic Party's constitution ahead of the next elections.

"The party is not involved in any process to amend its constitution at the moment. The 2012 amended copy is now the grand norm of the party and we intend to strictly abide by its provision. The PDP does not exist solely for the purpose of perpetual amendments of its constitution," Metuh said.

"We have already made our position known that holders of elective positions can only secure another term based on their performance and their acceptance by the people in a free and fair primary election where all party members shall be guaranteed a level playing ground. The PDP under Alhaji Bamanga Tukur shall never short circuit the will of its members under whatever guise.

"We also wish to make it clear that the PDP has its own constitution where processes for candidates' selection are clearly spelt out. We are therefore only bound by the provisions of this constitution and not the conventions of any other party, anywhere else in the world. We are no copycats.

"We therefore urge our members to disregard this idea as we suspect that it is handwork of mischief makers who are desirous of causing disaffection among our members."

The report being referred to (not in Daily Trust) was published on Monday, saying that the PDP was trying to model its constitution after the major political parties in the United States which give incumbent presidents and governors "right of first refusal" of return tickets.

Metuh's statement yesterday on PDP's commitment to free primaries is in line with the party's consistent assertions ahead of all general elections since 1999 that no incumbents would be guaranteed automatic tickets.

But this flies in the face of the reality in the party's operations since then, as all incumbent presidents and all but two incumbent governors got their return tickets in primaries that are mostly tailored to favour them.

Then-President Obasanjo got a return ticket in 2003 as did all PDP governors at the time except Chinwoke Mbadinuju of Anambra State.

President Jonathan also secured a presidential election primary in January last year.

The only other PDP governor denied a return ticket by the party was Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa State, who was disqualified ahead of the November governorship primaries in which he was standing for a second term.

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