2023 zoning intrigues deepen in APC, PDP | NN NEWS


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Members of the All-Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) across the country have been left agitated and frustrated by the delay in unveiling the zoning formula to be adopted by each of the parties for next year’s presidential election, according to an investigation by The Nation

Although some chieftains of the two parties have already declared their interest in the race while some others are biding their time, there is no decision yet by the two parties on which section of the country they will grant the right to fly their flags. 

Not even the aspirants are sure of anything yet, sparking speculations and conjectures on what could happen. 

The PDP already has its National Chairman from the North, although that has not stopped speculations that the party’s presidential ticket could be thrown open to aspirants from the North and the South. 

In the case of the APC, it has not even unveiled the zoning formula for its national executive committee. 

Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, who doubles as the leader of the party in the state, said yesterday that the APC expects President Muhammadu Buhari to play a key role in formulating its zoning arrangement. 

The party’s national convention has been fixed for next month in Abuja. 

Observers are of the view that the APC is waiting to see what the PDP will do about zoning before taking its own stand on the issue. 

A reliable source in the Anyim Pius Anyim camp said the group suspected that the PDP governors from the South may have compromised the interest of the zone following alleged plan by the PDP Governors Forum to corner the presidential and vice-presidential tickets of the party for its members. 

The Nation also learnt that the Senator Iyorchia Ayu led National Working Committee (NWC) is already contending with some forces within the party who are bent on having their way. 

Ayu, according to sources, prefers to convene a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party to discuss and take a decision on the matter. 

Sources also said while some prominent chieftains of the party like former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and ex-Senate President Bukola Saraki, among many others want the party to shun zoning and allow aspirants from all parts of the country to contest the primary, some other prominent PDP members, led by PDP southern governors, have continued to urge the part to respect the zoning arrangement and cede the presidential ticket to the south. 

But some members are not convinced that the southern governors are totally committed to the southern project. 

“It is uncertain if all our governors are still committed to the zoning struggle. We heard of a new agenda by the governors and the body language of southern governors lately suggests a change in intentions,” a source said. 

The anti-zoning groups are of the view that the only way the party can win the 2023 presidential election is to discard zoning and allow aspirants from all parts of the country to contest in the primary. 

“The PDP wants to win election, and as such, the party is considering what will deliver the votes more than what will ensure the continuation of an agreement,” Tade Olusakin, Southwest Coordinator of PDP Youth Volunteers Forum (PYVF) said. 

If everything goes according to plan, Senator Ayu is expected to summon a NEC meeting to discuss and finalise on the party’s position on the zoning debate. 

“PDP must address the zoning issue before the primary election. The party knows that Nigerians are waiting for it to take a decision. Ayu has decided to leave the decision to the NEC and he will soon convene a NEC meeting,” a source claimed. 

A former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, recently argued against the call for zoning the 2023 presidential ticket of the party to the Southern part of Nigeria. Kwankwaso condemned the insistence of the Southern Governors Forum in July 2021 that the next president of the country must come from their region. 

He dismissed the agitation for zoning as an attempt to intimidate the northern region into relinquishing its right to contest the seat. 

He posited that the party had produced more southern presidents than the north. 

“You see, many people are mixing what ordinarily shouldn’t come together at all. We have PDP, we have APC, we have APGA and we have many other parties today in this country. And the issue of where a party put his presidency or vice presidency is a matter of strategy. 

“If you look at it from 1999 to date, or even after 2023, we have 16 years for PDP, eight years for APC. Now, in the 16 years of PDP, we had a situation where the presidency has been in the south for 14 years and only in the north for two years during the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of blessed memory. 

“Now we see some people, maybe because they don’t understand politics or they want to be mischievous, they keep on mixing the two issues of two political parties together. This PDP and APC are contestants in this game,” he said. 

The situation in the APC is even more uncertain as the leadership of the party continues to deny the existence of any zoning arrangement ahead of its proposed elective convention next month. 

Yobe State Governor and Chairman, Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Mai Mala Buni, during the week denied social media reports that the party had zoned positions ahead of the national convention. 

The denial, contained in a statement by the governor’s Director-General, Press and Media Affairs, Alhaji Mamman Mohammed, noted that the publication was false, baseless and unfounded. 

The story had claimed that Buni announced the zoning arrangement as follows: President (South); Vice President (North); Senate President (South); Deputy Senate President (North); House of Reps Speaker (North); House of Reps Deputy Speaker (South). 

APC National Working Committee National Chairman (North); National Secretary (South); National Treasurer (South); Financial Secretary (North) Legal Officer (North); Welfare Officer (South); Auditor (North); National Youth Leader (South); National Woman Leader (South); Publicity Secretary (South); Persons With Disability PWD Leader (South). 

But Mohammed noted: “His Excellency has in clear and unambiguous terms denied the said list, saying it is false, baseless, unfounded, misleading and it has nothing to do with him. 

“The chairman of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Committee said the party has not taken any decision at any forum on anything relating to zoning of offices. 

“The publication is just a figment of the author’s imagination and has nothing to do with the chairman and the party. The public is hereby urged to disregard the purported list as it is misleading and completely false.” 

Party sources said while it is very likely that the APC concede its presidential ticket to the south, the party may be delaying the announcement because it is waiting to see what the PDP will do on the matter. 

“We also want to win election. We understand the mood of the people and APC will do the needful. But I must tell you this is politics and it is not out of place to shadow your opponents and see what they have in plan,” a party source told The Nation. 

Buhari will guide party on way forward — Abiodun 

The All Progressives Congress (APC) expects President Muhammadu Buhari to guide it in achieving equity and justice in the party’s zoning formula, ahead of next month’s National Convention, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State said yesterday. 

Abiodun, emerging from a closed-door meeting with the President at State House, Abuja, told correspondents that Buhari would continue to provide the direction to move the party forward. 

The governor was at the head of a delegation from Ogun State to thank the President for his recent visit to the state during which he commissioned some projects. 

The governor said he was not in a position to advise the APC but he knew that the party was working on a formula that would be made public once approved by the National Executive Council (NEC). 

He said: “I will be hesitant to delve into the details of this question because one, I’m not in any position or capacity to advise the party. I am a governor; I am a member of the party and I will continue to be guided by the party leadership and in line with party discipline. 

“We have a President in place. We are the party that’s in government. Our President is the leader of the party. I believe that His Excellency, Mr. President, will continue to offer us the guidance that’s required and will do that which we need to do under his leadership. 

“I am not sure that I am capable or have the capacity to begin to advise the party when I am just a member of the party and a governor, and the party has a leader who is the President. 

“We are aware that the party is working on zoning, and when that is formalised and ratified by NEC, then it will be made public so we’ll know where the chairman of the party will come from, we’ll know where the President will come from and things will evolve in their own time,” he said. 

Abiodun said the delegation was at the State House to thank the President for his recent visit to the state to commission a number of projects. 

During the visit, the President Buhari had commissioned landmark and legacy projects like roads and housing estates, which he described as “projects of outstanding quality” during the ‘thank you’ visit. 

Buhari particularly said the new roads would cut travel time considerably, lauding Governor Abiodun for also working hard on security and other projects that touch the lives of the people. 

Buhari recalled that he began his military career in Abeokuta as a Second Lieutenant in the Nigerian Army, “so I will always see Ogun as home.” 

With Abiodun were former governor of the state, Aremo Olusegun Osoba; former deputy governor, Mrs Salimot Badru; the Akarigbo of Remoland and Chairman of Ogun State Council of Traditional Rulers, Oba Babatunde Adewale Ajayi, Torungbuwa II; and the Chairman of Rite Foods, Alhaji Sulaimon Adegunwa. (The Nation) 

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