- Says South enjoyed 14years of presidency under Obasanjo, Jonathan
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
As Nigerians eagerly await where the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will be zoned to ahead of the 2023 general election, the Justice and Equity Group, (JEG) has made case for the zoning of the ticket to the North in the interest of fairness and justice.
This is coming as Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State urged Nigerians not to vote anyone above 79 years of age in the next general election.
The JEG, a group within the PDP, maintained that the presidency of the nation, under the administration of the party, had remained in the South for a total of 14 years, when former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr Goodluck Jonathan were in saddle, while the North, under late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua only remained in power for two years.
The group said this in a statement Thursday by its Chairman and former Deputy Majority Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon Ahmed Muktar in Abuja.
The JEG of the PDP reasoned also that it will be in the party’s greater interest to abide by the earlier recommendations to National Executive Committee (NEC) that the issue be thrown open to all the presidential aspirants of PDP in all zones.
The Justice and Equity group argued that the best candidate, who can win the presidential election for the PDP and “change the terrible mess which the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has turned Nigeria into”, should be allowed to emerge from any zone in the country.
The group’s statement was in response to a recent press release by Prince
Kassim Afegbua, an erstwhile Commissioner in Edo State and
one of the former spokespersons of Atiku Abubakar presidential campaign during the 2019 presidential election.
Afegbua, had in his press release, said
among other things: “For me, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar should quit his quest for presidency and support a southern Nigerian candidate in the spirit of fairness, equity and justice as that will assuage the feelings of stakeholders from the Southern part of Nigeria”.
He had added, “It will be against the run of play and natural justice for any aspirànt of Northern extraction to show interest in the 2023 presidential election within the Peoples’ Democratic Party threshold.
“Given PDP’s doctrine of political power balancing and fairness, it will be against its own unwritten rule to cede the ticket to any Northern aspirànt, least of all Alhaji Atiku Abubakar”, Afegbua stated.
However, the Justice and Equity Group maintained that it was undemocratic to ask a qualified Nigerian not to contest for Presidency.
According to group’s statement, “We think that in the greater interest of the PDP, we should abide by the earlier PDP National Executive Committee decision that threw open the presidential ticket of PDP to all zones.
“Let the best candidate that can win the election for the PDP and change the terrible mess APC has turned Nigeria into, to emerge”, it said
Continuing, the Justice and Equity Group said, “While it is undemocratic to ask a qualified Nigerian not to contest for Presidency, we agree substantially that Atiku Abubakar has had his time and opportunities.
“He (Atiku) was presented in 2018/2019 as the only one with the capacity, the financial muscle , the experience to beat President Buhari. He fluffed the chance given to him by PDP. Age is also not on his side in 2023.
“Nigerians have become weary of his perennial and perpetual candidature. It may be time for him to give a younger person a chance.
“It should be noted that Obasanjo from the South contested against General Buhari from the North. Nobody mentioned that it was the turn of the North or South, because different parties are governed by their own interests.
“The PDP should be governed by permutations that will give it victory.
“A blanket ban on any region from contesting for presidency under PDP is manifestly and patently unreasonable, unjust, unfair and contrary to natural justice. It is wrong and will not fly in a democracy.
“As a matter of fact the North has better claims to the PDP ticket than the South in 2023”, the group said.
The group disagreed, fundamentally, with Afegbua’s position that ‘it will be against the run of play and natural justice for any aspirant of Northern extraction to show interest in the 2023 presidential election within the Peoples’ Democratic Party threshold,’ saying, “nothing can be further from the truth’.
According to the JEG, “Politics in Nigeria, under the 1999 Constitution, is played by political Parties, not interest groups, geopolitical groups or even individuals. It is political parties that can field candidates. Nigeria as an entity cannot field a candidate. The North or South cannot field a candidate too.
“It is disingenuous for any one to mix up the fortunes and tactics of the political parties.
“In the APC, President Buhari from the North is about to complete 8 years, so it is perfectly normal for APC to look for a candidate from the Southern part of the country to fly its flag in 2023.
“The matter is not the same in PDP , which is a distinct political party, governed by its rules and traditions. In PDP, under its constitution the principle of zoning and rotation is respected.
“President Obasanjo from the South held office as President for 8 years. By an accident of history, President Goodluck Jonathan from the South has also held the office of President for 6 years. This is a cumulative period of 14 years that the Presidency of Nigeria under PDP has been domiciled in the South.
“The Northern part of Nigeria has held the Presidency of Nigeria under PDP for less than three years under President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. So, where is the justice, equity and fairness in the demand that the PDP should choose their presidential candidate from the South?
“It makes no political sense and no amount of propaganda can change the facts. PDP is not APC. PDP members should not be confused with the politics of APC”, the group submitted.