The controversy over the zoning of presidency has taken a fresh dimension as the late President Umar Yar’Adua’s kinsmen insist the South should forget about the quest for 2023 presidency under the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party.
A former parliamentarian, who holds the traditional title of Dan’Lawan Katsina, Senator Hamisu Gambo Lawal, among other leaders of the Yar’adua’s political family, said as far the party is concerned, the North would retain the presidency in the coming dispensation.
Lawal’s stance came as his fellow kinsman, who is also the chairman of Katsina State chapter of the PDP, Salisu Yusuf Majigiri, tried to douse the tension arising from the agitation for presidency.
Majigiri told our correspondent that it would be pre-emptive for any PDP chieftain to speak on the issue while the party had mandated the governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed-led committee to find out why the opposition party lost 2019 presidential election and whether the party’s standard bearer in 2023 poll should hail from the North or South.
Rationalising his position, he said, “Bala Mohammed panel was constituted about six or seven months ago. It has been working hard and consulting all critical stakeholders in the country. When the committee submits its report, the issue of zoning in PDP will be addressed. So for any person to say this or that is the party’s position, I think, is totally pre-emptive.”
But speaking to ThisNigeria, Lawal stated, “Muhammadu Buhari presidency is APC government but under PDP, any presidential aspirant can still and should come from the North – North West, North East or North Central – there is no doubt about it.”
Emphasising that the North can’t be denied 2023 presidency, Lawal, who began his political career as Katsina Local Government chairman and later became a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate, declared that the power brokers in PDP were working assiduously to ensure their clamour would not overheat the polity.
“It will never create crisis by the grace of God; it will never because we are seriously working on it. This is the arrangement we have in our party. APC has its own arrangement. Y
ou could recall that after Yar’ Adua couldn’t complete his tenure; Goodluck Jonathan took over, did one term and lost to APC. So, somebody is coming from the North under PDP,” he said.
He further stressed that any presidential aspirant from the South should forget about 2023 ticket of the PDP and urged Nigerians to continue to pray for peace, unity and stability of the nation.
The former lawmaker said he could not speak further on the issue because the party’s big wigs may finally decide whether the next presidency should actually be go the North or South despite the PDP’s zoning arrangement.
“But as far as we are concerned, it’s still the turn of the Northern Nigeria. But if the North decides it should go the South, what can we do? We are law abiding people,” he stated.
Don’t retreat, Katsina PDP chief warns Ndigbo On his part, Majigiri, assured that just as the Senator Ike Ekweremadu-led committee guided the choice of the PDP presidential flag-bearer in 2019 general election, the Bala Mohammed-led committee’s report would shed light on how the party should build its strategies and win in 2023.
The Katsina PDP boss said, “My advice is you know South-East has been PDP consistently and the party gave the zone so many positions.
Even in 2019, it was somebody from the South-East that was given the slot of vice presidential candidate unlike APC which gave its ticket to South-West.
We had Senate President from there; we had Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) from there besides so many appointments including service chiefs. So, South-East is PDP and PDP is South-East.
“Anybody who is trying to support APC in the South-East, is going to the wrong party.
The party is not going to consider South-East in any position because in the past six years, what can you say the South East has so far? Is there any sensitive position that has been given to the South-East in the APC government?
If you can look at the issue critically, right from 1999 to date, PDP is South-East and South-East is PDP.
And if anybody wishes to join APC from South-East, I think naturally, he is joining a wrong party.”
Majigiri also weighed in on the concerns in some quarters that if the PDP fields a northern presidential candidate in next election, it may earn it a backlash, saying “You know PDP is a united political party.
If you could recall, we had 12 presidential aspirants that contested the party’s ticket in 2019 in Port Harcourt and after the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the candidate of PDP and none of the other 11 aspirants left the party.
None of the 11; they all participated and contributed their quota for the success of the party.
So, even if aspirants are going to emerge from so many geo-political zones of the country, I believe if there is no consensus, by the end of the primary, all the aspirants will support the candidate that emerges as winner as it was done in 2019.
He also spoke on the prospects of PDP in the next general elections thus, “You know, in 2023, we have a better chance than in 2019 because of so many factors that are visible and clearly seen in the country.
Governance has failed at all levels. Look at what is happening in the country. So, I think it is time for PDP to get ready, be united and by God’s grace, it will win the elections.”
Appealing to the party faithful to await the Bala Mohammed-led Committee’s report, the PDP stalwart, who stressed that PDP would leave no stone unturned to ensure that justice is done to all noted, “PDP is a well-organised party; it’s a party that has never changed its name, logo or anything in the last 22 years.
The party has all its organs –the Board of Trustees (BOT), the National Executive Council (NEC) and the National Working Committee (NWC) and what have you – in place.
“If you could recall, in 2015 when we lost elections including the presidency, the party set up a committee to go and review the general elections and bring its report.
That committee was headed by Senator Ekweremadu, then Senate Deputy President, and that committee came out with a report including where to zone the presidency in 2019.
We had NEC meeting in which all the NEC members endorsed the proposal of the committee that the presidency should be zoned to the North.
“And we took that report of the NEC to the national convention and the convention endorsed the same that the presidency should go to the North and in the same pattern; a committee has been set up under Governor Bala Mohammed.”