Zoning of Presidency Not Priority Now, Says PDP

Prince Uche Secondus

•Secondus chides Buhari for ignoring N’Assembly

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday foreclosed making a decision on the zoning of the presidential ticket of the party so soon, saying that Nigeria has more serious issues such as insecurity and the poor management of the economy to grapple with than the race for the 2023 presidency.
The party also described the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to appear before the National Assembly to brief the lawmakers on efforts by his administration to combat the worsening insecurity in the country as an indication that Nigeria has become a broken country.
In addition, the party, at a news conference in Abuja by its National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, dismissed the possibility of the PDP making a pronouncement on its zoning formula soon.

The PDP has been under pressure to declare which of the six geopolitical zones will get its presidential ticket, especially in the wake of the furore generated by the defection of Ebonyi State Governor, Chief Dave Umahi, to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on the grounds of the opposition party’s alleged refusal to concede the presidency to the South-east.

But Secondus said yesterday the party can’t be focusing on the 2023 race when Nigeria is in a crisis.
He said: “You don’t talk about the party zoning or announcing where the presidential ticket of the PDP will come from when the country is in crisis. There must be a country first before you talk about politics and zoning of presidential office.
“There must be governance, security as well as sound management of the economy before politics. As we talk, the country is in serious trouble. For us in the PDP, [it is] Nigeria first.”

Although he acknowledged the public interest in the zoning issue, he said the party would not be rushed to make a decision as it has its methods of dealing with the matter.
He explained that the party, after the last general election, had set up a panel to appraise its performance and recommend how to do better in future contests.

Secondus said: “The Governor of Bauchi State, H.E Alhaji Bala Mohammed, is heading the committee and they are still working.
We did the same thing when we lost the election in 2015, when we set up the Senator Ike Ekweremadu committee to look into why we lost. It was from that report that the party took action towards 2019.
“The same way this time, we must study our last outing before looking ahead. We can’t be talking of zoning when we have not appraised how we faired in the last election.

“Moreover, the state of the nation today is such that politics or anything concerning 2023 of three years away should take backstage. Nigeria is in a comatose state today where APC brought it, that should be our concern now.”

He added that when the Mohammed-led Committee submits its report, PDP will make decisions on the next steps.
“And I believe that whoever that is interested in 2023, may be including the former president, the chances are there because the PDP is a party of all. Everybody will have that opportunity but in clear terms, we have not taken any decision to give anybody ticket for now,” he added.
On Buhari’s refusal to honour the House of Representatives’ invitation, Secondus said it showed that Nigeria is adrift.

He said: “This back and forth from the president on a vital issue as security that is overwhelming our nation underscores our position as an opposition party that nobody is in charge and that this is a broken government.
“Disregarding the nation’s parliament is disregarding the Nigerian people because they are representatives of the people. The truth, which is worrisome, is that the president either does not know what is happening or does know what to do; otherwise, he should not be afraid to face the people.”

On his stewardship as the national chairman in the last three years, Secondus said the PDP, through reform, has enhanced its image and status.
“States under the party’s control rose from 11 to 16 and it could have been more if not for the shameless ambush by the APC in Osun, Kano, Kogi and Imo states.
“Internally, the party has also used it’s in- house means to resolve issues making PDP the right party to belong in this country today,” he stated.