Zoning Controversy: PDP Governors in fresh move to zone Presidential ticket to South

Some Nigerian governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have embarked on fresh moves to zone the presidential ticket of the party in the 2023 general election to the South, in line with the position of the 17 southern governors that power should shift to the South in 2023.

As part of the strategic consultations to realise this aspiration, some PDP governors had met with one of their colleagues in the North-east to help mount pressure on former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to accept the position of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees as the incumbent BoT chairman Senator Walid Jubrin would be rounding off his tenure before the 2023 general election.

It would be recalled that the main opposition party had zoned its national chairmanship ticket to the North, raising hopes that the presidential candidate would emerge from the southern part of the country.

But the body language of Atiku and some other chieftains of the party from the North has revealed that they are nursing the ambition to contest the position.

While acknowledging that Atiku is eminently qualified to contest the 2023 presidential election, a source revealed that the clamour for power shift and the issue of age could work against the former vice president.

“Atiku will be almost 77 years by 2023 as he is currently 75 years and that Nigerians may not accept such an old presidential candidate in view of the present circumstances of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“PDP gave Atiku the ticket in 2019 and may not be in a position to take the same gamble again.

“The governors are thinking of allowing the former vice president to settle for the office of the chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT),” he explained.

Given the popular agitation for power shift, the source further explained that the two leading political parties – PDP and APC may ensure the repeat of what happened in 1999 where the PDP and the then All Peoples Party (APP) produced two presidential candidates -Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief Olu Falae from the South, to pacify the South-west over the annulment of the 1993 presidential election won by the late Chief MKO Abiola.

According to the source, a repeat of the 1999 configuration would promote equity and fairness as well as address the agitation against marginalisation.

He noted that if power shifts to the South, the odds would favour the South-east geopolitical zone.

He explained that the PDP stakeholders were buying into the sentiments of ensuring equity and fairness to push for the emergence of the party’s presidential candidate from the South.

According to the source, it is feared that if the PDP goes ahead to produce a presidential candidate outside of the southern states and the APC eventually ensures that it picks its presidential candidate from the south, the main opposition party will lose sympathy as many Nigerians will support APC to ensure the emergence of a president of southern extraction by 2023.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Ngige, has expressed support for the emergence of a president from the southern part of the country in 2023.

Ngige who is a chieftain of the ruling APC, disclosed that the APC agreed after the merger to rotate the presidency, stressing that that zoning and rotation of power create stability, unity, equity, and progress of the country.

According to him, rotation engenders confidence and patriotism and ensures that no one ethnic group or section of the country dominates the other.

The former Anambra State governor faulted those saying that no such convention exists.

He particularly berated the opposition PDP for waiting for APC to choose a southern presidential candidate, so that it can pick its candidate from the North in clear breach of the rotation convention and even against the rotation principle enshrined in the PDP constitution.

“Their top apparatchik thinks they are smart. They want to play a fast one. They are waiting for APC to go to the South. Their calculation is that when that happens, they will go to the North. Number one, that will be an act in bad faith because it will mean that they have taken the people in the South-south and South-east that have all along supported PDP 90 percent in all the elections, for a ride.

“The PDP will be shocked the way the South-east, the South-south and other minorities, and in fact, Nigerians as a whole will revolt. I was a founding member of the PDP. I was in its National Executive Committee as the Assistant National Secretary, South-east, and served in many strategic standing committees. I was elected governor on the platform of the PDP. I know that the constitution of the PDP is clear on the rotation of power and zoning of offices between the North and South.

“So, if they are waiting for our great party the APC to choose a southern candidate so they can quickly turn and present a northern candidate at a point the dominant mood in the country is for power to shift to the South, then, they are deceiving themselves. Nigerians will shock them.”

A statement by the minister’s media office in Abuja quoted Ngige as having made the assertions while answering questions from journalists at his country home in Alor, Idemili South LGA of Anambra State.

Ngige insisted that an unwritten agreement exists among politicians and political parties that rotation of offices should take place, adding that it was written down as a constitutional provision in the case of PDP.

Ngige noted that the issue of the rotation of the prime offices in the land is not expressly written in the constitution of APC, but insisted that the ruling party had agreed to rotate the presidency after its merger.

“I was the secretary at our first convention and I took all the minutes. We had an agreement that our flag-bearer would come from the North and after North, it would go down to the South. So, those who are talking today were not there when this agreement was made. But was it written down and signed by politicians from both sides? No. But we had minutes of the meeting. They are there. It was agreed that there would be a movement between North and South.

“As we were doing the convention and filling in offices, we narrowed down our candidates to about two or three. But, among the candidates, General Buhari was topping. All of us from the ACN caucus had agreed that he was our candidate. CPC had agreed that he would be their candidate. ANPP was split into two. So, when we went to the presidential convention, he emerged with a wide margin. That is the truth of the matter,” Ngige explained.

He also argued that power rotation is contained in the 1999 constitution of Nigeria (as amended).

He said: “First, Section 14 (3) of the constitution is clear on the composition of government at the national, states and even local government level, in such a way that there should be no actual or perceptions of domination by any single tribe or group of persons from one ethnic nationality so as to engender confidence and patriotism,” he added.

%d bloggers like this: