There seems to be hope for politicians of northern Nigeria extraction who have shown interest to contest for president in the next election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the party says it may drop its zoning culture and throw the presidential primary open to all qualified members from all over the country.
Abdullahi Ibrahim, the PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Abdullahi Ibrahim, on Friday, clearly stated that the leadership of the party was considering scrapping the idea of zoning for the 2023 Presidency.
Ibrahim, who spoke in an interview with Arise News monitored by Loconaija, also said the PDP won’t wait for the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) before deciding on zoning or otherwise for the 2023 Presidency.
Members of PDP from the North who have shown interest in getting the party’s 2023 presidential ticket include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former Senate Prechoosingola Saraki; Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed; and ex-governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso. However some of them had yet to officially declare their presidential bid, there have been strong indications that they have interest in the exalted position.
With just about a year to the 2023 presidential election and just a few months to the party primaries, there has been intense pressure from the southern region of the country for a power shift to the region from the north.
The pressure is most especially from the 17 southern governors and socio-political groups including Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Pan Niger Delta Forum and the Middle Belt Forum, who have constantly insisted that power moved to the south in 2023 after the eight-year regime of the President, Muhammadu Buhari, who is from Katsina State.
The groups have also declared that political parties that field northern presidential candidates won’t enjoy their support in the 2023 general elections.
Again, Chief Edwin Clark, foremost Ijaw national leader, recently urged northern presidential aspirants to reconsider their ambition to avoid “chaos” in the country.
Recounting the leadership of Nigeria since the return to democracy in 1999 after the long years of military dominance, power had swung between the North and the South. Although mostly to the South. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo (Southerner from Ogun State) was in office from May 1999 to May 2007 on the platform of the PDP. Then Goodluck Jonathan, a PDP chieftain and former governor of Bayelsa State from Southern Nigeria lasted in office from 2010 until he lost the election of 2015. He took over power from Umaru Yar’Adua from Katsina State in Northern Nigeria, who had a short stint in Aso Rock from May 2007 until his death in May 2010 after battling with an ailment.
So far, southerners have been in office for a total number of 13 years while northerners would have spent 11 years in Aso Rock when Buhari completes his second term in May 2023.
History has shown that the PDP has zoned four of its six presidential tickets to southerners since 1999 – two to Obasanjo in 1999 and 2003, and two to Jonathan in 2011 and 2015; while the two others have gone to northerners – Yar’Adua in 2007 and Atiku in 2019.
Many politicians of northern extraction have therefore argued for the need to balance the number of years that both the north and south stayed in power while southern political godfathers and strong men have vigorously continued to displace the argument, insisting that the presidency should move to the south in 2023 after Buhari’s double term. The arguments had at various times led to strong verbal altercations and exchange of expletives between southern politicians and there northern counterparts.
Speaking on the television programme on Friday, Abdulahi, the PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary said the PDP is treading softly to ensure all interests are accommodated before the party comes up with a decision on its zoning culture.
Ibrahim said, “The haste with which people are just expecting us to declare zoning now, there are processes of consultations and engagements which is ongoing. We just have in place a National Working Committee which is barely two months in office. What it is doing now is to aggregate all the contending forces and interests and all the divergent views of Nigerians and come up with an informed decision as to where the Presidency will be zoned accordingly.”
According to him, zoning is to strengthen unity and mutual cohesion because Nigeria is heterogenous hence the need to allocate responsibilities accordingly.
He said, “It is only PDP that has realised the need to zone these offices and rotate them accordingly so that every interest, every region and every contending force within the country will feel among.”
Asked whether the PDP is thinking of jettisoning the idea of zoning, Ibrahim said, “It is on the table and it is a factor that is taken very seriously. We’re beginning to look at all of these interests and all of these clamour to see how we will make an informed decision at the fullness of time. It is not something we will want to do unilaterally, we will take national interest and divergent views of Nigerians in coming up with decisions. That is why we are not rushing things.”
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