2023: Again, Imo PDP, APC in battle of wits

Olusesan Laoye

It is now evident that the two major political parties in Nigeria are in dilemma and are also divided over zoning arrangements of the presidential ticket of political parties.
The major position which has put the two parties in commotion is that of the presidency, which virtually all the zones in Nigeria want to grab.

Right now, it is not certain in the two parties, where their Presidential flag bearers would come from, as the agitations concerning this are heightened daily, which is causing tension and confusions all over Nigeria.

At present, no part of the country wants to be left out in the battle for the presidential seat and this has even made friends and associates, who have been together before now, to distance themselves, in pursuance of their political interests that would favour their respective zones.
Although the issue of where the candidate of the will come from seems settled in APC, in the PDP the battle fierce and may be it greatest undoing as the maintains that the previous zoning pattern in 2019 which saw Atiku Abubakar get the ticket be retained.

In PDP for instance, the romance between the Rivers State Governor Nyson Wike and his counterpart in Sokoto State, Governor Aminu Tambuwal appears to have been over, as both are bent on fighting for their political interests and geopolitical zones.

Before the convention of the party, Wike and other Northern and Southern governors were together, in order to get rid of the old order and plant their favourites in the key positions in the national executive of the party. This they successfully did, as all those promoted for positions in the party, eventually emerged.

The understanding then, was that should the Chairman of the part come from the North, the South would take the presidential slot but the tone at the moment has changed, as the North after getting the Chairmanship, began singing a new song, claiming that the ticket should not be zoned to any particular zone, and that the presidential ticket be thrown open to all zones.

This position angered the southern governors and their people in the party, who are still insisting that the south must produce the candidate. The irony of the whole thing about zoning, is that it has created a division even among those in the Zones. In the South, which the governors and other stakeholders are clamouring for the presidency, the South East is bent on producing the candidate, while the South-South too seems interested.

In the North, the North East and the North Central are agitating that should the North be considered to produce the candidate of the party, their zones must be favoured because judging from what has been happening in the party since 1999, the two zones have been relegated to the background with only the North West dominating the presidency.

Since there is too much noise that the presidential ticket of the party be left open, gladiators in the PDP have come out, across the zones and states.

In the North, those who have shown interest include the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, (North East) Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, (North East), Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, (North West) former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki (North Central) Rabiu Musa Kwankawnso, (North West), and the former Jigawa State Governor , Sule Lamido (North West)

In the South, we have Rivers State Govermor, Nyeson Wike (South South,) Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), (S-S-) Ifeanyin Ugwanyi Enugu (South East) Anyim Pius Anyim (South East)

Anyim and Wike are very bitter about the stand of the Northern politicians that the ticket should be left open. Anyim has said that he would not be bothered anymore about zoning and that zoning or no zoning, he would contest for the ticket of the party.

Wike on his own part said the North is doing everything to cause confusion in the party and that he and his colleagues would not go back on the resolutions of the entire southern governors, that the presidency must shift to the South, since it is the North that is about to vacate the seat after eight years.

Wike strongly condemned those who wanted the presidency zoned to the North, referring to the comment of the former Niger State governor, Babangida Aliu that the PDP had conclude plans to zone the presidential ticket of the party to the North.

In the APC the situation is still uncertain just as it is in the opposition party. The apprehensions are so high that party members are confused.

The impression in the party is that the presidential ticķet has been zoned to the South, especially the South West, which played prominent role in the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari in both 2015 and his second term in 2019.

It was observed that since President Buhari got his second term, the body language from him and the power brokers in the North, indicates that they want to go back on what was agreed upon in 2015 and subsequently in 201.

As a matter of fact, it was argued that the party should not renege on this but to give the ticket to the southwest, which has remained its stronghold in the South and wondered why the party wants to abandon the zone.

The argument of some powerful blocks in the North on the agitations that the ticket of the party be left open, was that if the PDP adopts a northern candidate, the APC could be in a serious dilemma, if it fields a Southern candidate, because of the perceived strong votes in the North which would go outrightly in favour of the PDP.

The APC is in such a mess now, that it is on the verge of total collapse, with zoning and many issues concerning the congresses of the party across the states yet to be resolved.

What actually created tension in the party lately, was the statement credited to the chairman of the National Caretaker committee that the positions in the party have been fixed ahead of the National Convention coming up this month February 26.

According to the report, it 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).

This has been generating lot of heat among the party faithfuls, especially, the those in the North who are still strongly eyeing the presidency.

To douse the tension and the divisions the report is causing, the Chairman, Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Mai Mala Buni, came out to deny the media reports that the party had zoned positions ahead of the national convention.

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

However, sources said that what the members of the party are still thinking is that the list could still be what they will follow at the convention but they were surprised that it leaked and they had to deny it, waiting for where the PDP ticket would go to.

With the division and apprehension still going on within the two political parties, there have been reactions across the parties.
The Govermornof Ogun state Mr. Dapo Abiodun has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is in the right position to guide the APC in achieving equity and justice in the partys zoning formula, ahead of the National Convention.

Abiodun, told Journalists in Abuja after meeting President Buhari that the president would continue to provide the direction to move the party forward.

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 well know where the chairman of the party will come from, well know where the president will come from and things will evolve in their own time, he said

With the statement from the National Caretaker Committee that they have not zoned the presidency to a particularly zone, aspirants are now coming out

Those who have declared interests in APC, are the leader of the Party, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu (South west), Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi (SE), Governor of Kogi State Yaya Bello (North Central), Governor of Ekiti State Kayode Fayemi (SW), former Imo governor Rochas Okorocha (SE) and former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu (SE).

Also people have reacting across regional lines former Kano State Governor Kwankwaso said that it was not proper for people to clamour for the zoning of the presidency to come to south. He argued that the position of the Southern governors on this, “is to intimidate the North to submission and to force it to relinquish it’s right to contest the seat.”

He argued “the place where the presidency should come from must be a matter of strategy and not sentiments.”

Also Senator Walid Jubrin, chairman Board of Trustees (BOT) of the PDP, said that he saw nothing wrong with Governor Wike’s stand that the presidency should move to the south, because he can’t go back on the decisions taken with his other colleagues in the south, since he was a signatory to the decision. He said, Wike’s opinion won’t be a problem to PDP. He argued that the leadership of the PDP, will not take sides with any of the aspirants.

Also the National coordinator of the of the Northern advocate for good governance, Mr. Mahmoud Katun has advocated that the presidency should be left open.

“What should be considered is the capacity of the person that would govern the country and the ability to deliver.”

Former President Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa who is also interested in the presidency said that Nigeria is not yet ripe to jettisoned zoning system, which is good and necessary to ensure inclusiveness where the interest of the majority and the minority would be protected. He pointed out that it is now logical for the South, especially the South East, to produce the next president.

In his reaction when contacted the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP Debo Ologunagba said that the party has not zoned the presidency to any part of the country.

The arguments by political analysts is that whatever may be the situation politically, the PDP and the APC hold the key to the unity of Nigeria, depending on the ways they handle the affairs and manage the people.

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