•Says zoning agreement subsists
•Calls Bauchi Gov’s recommendation irrational, inconsistent
•Wants report tossed into the trash bin
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
As the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) struggle to hammer out a deal on the zoning of their presidential slots ahead of the next general election, the South-south has said a southerner must replace President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023. The zone said their position was in line with the zoning arrangements of the two parties.
The South-south had in several position arguments maintained that it should be allowed to complete its two terms of eight years, which was cut short by the defeat of former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, in the spirit of fairness and equity. Most individuals from the zone had warned repeatedly that no one should allow himself to be used to scuttle the zone’s chance of producing the next president.
Yesterday, the Pan Niger Delta Development Forum (PANDEF) further advanced the position further, saying there would be no compromise in the resolve to have a southerner as the next president in 2023.
PANDEF’s position followed the report of a PDP panel, which threw open the presidential ticket of the party, generating a ripple of unease among stakeholders within and outside the party.
PANDEF said it was not bothered about the part of the south that produced the next president. “Whether the southerner is from the South-south, South-east or South-west is a different matter entirely,” it said.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Ken Robinson, PANDEF said since Buhari is a northerner, the presidency should naturally rotate and return to the south in 2023.
The regional group was reacting to recommendations by the PDP committee led by Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, which suggested that the party’s 2023 presidential ticket should be open to all geo-political zones.
PANDEF described such arrangement as “irrational and inconsistent with extant provisions of the PDP constitution on zoning between the North and South.”
it said, “A northern president (Buhari) is to complete eight years by 2023. The presidency must, therefore, rotate to the south in 2023. That is the position of PANDEF. It is absurd for anyone to imagine that the north would retain the presidency. Nature abhors injustice; the sun does not rise in the east and set in the east.
“It would be in the best interest of the Peoples Democratic Party to toss the said report to the litter bin and work towards ensuring that its 2023 presidential candidate is from the south. Whether the person emerges from the South-south, South-east, or South-west is a different matter entirely. The PDP, and indeed any other political party, need not be told that it would be a suicidal adventure for it to toy with the idea of presenting a northern presidential flag bearer in 2023.”
Warning against mischief and dubious political manoeuvring in the 2023 presidential ticket, PANDEF said, “Be it in line with the unwritten conventions of the nation’s history as cited by Governor Bala Mohammed’s committee or on the grounds of fairness, equity, and merit, the president of Nigeria in 2023 must come from the south.”
it added, “No region in the country is lacking in men and women of notable character, competence, and acumen.”
However, PDP had maintained at different times that the report of the committee was not final but subject to study and approval by the relevant organs of party.
According to National Chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus, the party is going to study and analyse the report meticulously and come up with a position that would be beneficial to members.
Reacting to the report through his tweeter handle, National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “Due to enquiries from our members and the general public, it has become imperative to clarify that @OfficialPDPNig is yet to adopt any of the recommendations proposed by the Senator Bala Mohammed’s Committee on the Review of the 2019 Elections.
“As such, it will be incongruous for anyone to assert that any decision has been taken @OfficialPDPNig on zoning of the presidency ahead of the 2023 elections.
“@OfficialPDPNig leaders, members and supporters are enjoined to note that the party is yet to take any decision on the proposals presented by the committee.”