..Favours Southern Candidate For Presidential Ticket
Currently, the political future of former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar appears gloomy as the main opposition’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) hinted at zoning the party’s 2023 presidential ticket to Nigeria’s South following the agreement by the party’s hierarchy to zone key positions including the chairmanship seat to the North.
Wearing a somber face while speaking into the microphone at the 94th National Executive Council (NEC) which held on Thursday, a sucking Atiku rejected ongoing zoning debate among Nigerians focused on where the next president of the country should emerge from.
The New Diplomat reports that Atiku, a businessman and former Customs officer had unsuccessfully contested five times for the office of President of Nigeria in 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019.
74-year-old Atiku, who is said to be aiming at the number one seat in the country in 2023 to redeem himself –perhaps for the last time– noted that the PDP has critical decisions to make in the coming days as he urged the party to ensure that there is fairness and equity in its decisions.
The PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan while briefing journalists about the party’s decision on zoning after the NEC meeting said all positions in the party currently occupied by people from the South will go to the North and those occupied by people from the North will go to the South.
Ologbondiyan also said the PDP NEC retained the scheduled date for the party’s convention between October 30 and 31, 2021.
The meeting which was presided over by PDP acting national chairman, Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, was attended by Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa), Godwin Obaseki (Edo) and Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state.
Others in attendance are Governors Samuel Ortom, Duoye Diri, Ifeanyi Okowa and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Benue, Bayelsa, Delta and Enugu states respectively.
Former Senate Presidents-Iyorchia Ayu, Adolphus Wabara, Pius Anyim, David Mark and Bukola Saraki; chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Senator Walid Jibrin, former governors and ex-Ministers among others were also present.
Addressing the NEC, the former Vice President urged the PDP to stand up for its own rules and govern itself rather than succumbing to pressure from individuals not in the party.
This is coming on the heels of the recent zoning of the chairmanship ticket to the North by the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi- led committee. Going by this indication, the party presidential ticket is likely to be zoned to the South, a move which may affect the presidential ambition of Atiku. Although, the former Vice president hasn’t publicly announced his intentions, he is believed to be one of the individuals eyeing the highest seat in the land as he had done in the about two decades.
In his words: “Where the President comes from has never been the problem of Nigeria. It will not be the solution to the problems of Nigeria. There is no such thing as a President from Southern Nigeria or a President from Northern Nigeria. There is only one President, a President of Nigeria, for Nigeria and by Nigerians.
“The Peoples Democratic Party has the right to determine its rules on how the party should be governed. The people of Nigeria also have the right to determine who governs them,” he said.
Speaking further, Atiku recounted how he turned down opportunity to clinch the PDP’s presidential ticket in 2003 because the NEC at that time resolved to let power remain in southwest for eight years.
He continued: “Let me come to historical events, which I said I was going to cite. Those of us who served in the constitutional conference, which drafted the current constitution of Nigeria should remember that after we finished drafting the constitution, we all met as members of the constitutional conference and resolved to correct the injustice that was done to a particular part of this country.
“And we said, in whichever party you found yourself, your Presidential candidate must come from the South-West, because (MKO) Abiola had won election but it was annulled. Not only was it annulled, he was killed.
“So, we all agreed as members, and we went out of the constitutional conference and we formed our parties-The Peoples Democratic Party, The All Peoples Party, APP and the Alliance for Democracy, AD.
“At the end of the day, two parties emerged. PDP picked General Obasanjo and AD picked Olu Falae. All these showed.
“in 2003, all the PDP governors met at the villa and said they were not going to support President Obasanjo for a second term, that I should you run. I now referred them to the resolution of NEC, where NEC decided that power should remain in the South-West for eight years. How do you now want me to go against the resolution of NEC? I turned it down and we moved on.
“So, this country has a sense of fairness. This country has a sense of justice. Therefore, this thing that is inbuilt in our party, we should be able to use it, to imbibe it to make sure today’s deliberations are in the best interest of our party, in the best interest of Nigeria, which will ultimately give us the victory that we asked for, to go back to the villa.”