The South-West zone of the Peoples Democratic Party, on Tuesday, insisted that Nigeria’s next President should emerge from the southern part of the country.
The party, at an extended zonal caucus meeting held at the Oyo State Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, said that it was in support of the position of the Southern Governors’ Forum that the southern part of the country should produce the successor to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari.
The party also reaffirmed its call for Nigeria’s restructuring and said it would support all efforts aimed at national cohesion through equitable distribution of federal positions and appointments among the geopolitical zones.
A communiqué read by the party’s National Vice-Chairman, South-West, Olasoji Adagunodo, stated that the PDP had resolved that the unity of its members in the zone was non-negotiable and that all mechanisms for dispute resolution must be on the front burner.
The party equally resolved to do everything within its powers to lawfully win the forthcoming governorship elections in Osun and Ekiti states.
A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Oyo State Governor, Taiwo Adisa, said Governor Seyi Makinde, who is the leader of the party in the South-West, was commended by the caucus for his infrastructure development strides and efforts to reposition the PDP across states of the zone.
In his keynote speech, Makinde called on all members of the party to de-emphasise whatever issues they had with individuals and unite in the interest of the party, both at the zonal and national levels, adding that the South-West zone remained critical to the success of the PDP in the country.
He said, “We are in the election season already. The timetable is out and candidates for various positions will emerge within the next eight to nine weeks. And as the PDP South-West zone, what position are we presenting?
“We know that if the South-West and Yorubaland are not peaceful, things will not also be settled nationally. That is just the fact. We have also gone through the path that because of disunity, we were left out in the scheme of things.
“When the founding fathers of this party came together, they spoke about fairness, equity and justice, and they decided that the six major positions nationally must be shared among the six zones of Nigeria. That has always been the case until 2011. Because of the in-fighting and disunity, the South-West did not have a single position out of the six national positions.
“For the avoidance of doubt, I can list those six positions. In 2011, the President did not come from the South-West but from the South-South. The Vice-President did not come from the South-West, but the North-West.
“The Senate President came from the North-Central. The Speaker of the House of Representatives went to the North-West, while the Secretary to the Government of the Federation slot also went to the South-East. The chairman of the party went to the North-East.
“That was how we lost all completely and we don’t want to walk through that path again. It has happened to us before and we don’t want it to happen again.
“But the only way it won’t happen again is for us to unite and de-emphasize whatever issues we have with ourselves individually. We must come together to tell ourselves what we are going to demand nationally.”
Makinde maintained that though the South-West PDP had three opportunities through the off-season elections in Ondo, Ekiti and Osun for the governorship seats, in-fighting had already made it to lose in Ondo State.
He stated, “Ondo State governorship election is coming back in another two years. But before then, we have the Ekiti governorship election coming up. We thank God that we have been able to get everybody together, but there is still a lot of work to be done if Ekiti will not go the way of Ondo.
“I do pray, because I know we have another opportunity to support our candidate in Ekiti State, so that in two months plus, we will have a governor-elect in the state.
“We also have Osun State, which practically is in a difficult situation. They have issues from the governorship primary, which is not supposed to be. The South-West is known as the zone to provide leadership for this country.
“Truth is, we are going to be the ultimate losers and what happened in the past will happen again if we don’t get our acts together.
“I make bold to say that those aspiring for the presidency and are using our people against us, there are only two and a half months left. You can force yourself to win the party’s primary, but can you force yourself on the populace?
“This is an opportunity for us to recalibrate and have a common position, moving forward in the national engagement with the unfolding scenario nationally.”
Reading the communiqué at the end of the meeting, Adagunodo said, “The unity of the PDP, South-West zone, is a non-negotiable issue; to this end, we demand that all dispute resolution mechanisms should be on the front burner.
“The PDP South-West Zone is in support of the Southern Governors’ Forum that the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should come from the South.
“The South-West Zone reaffirms its position on restructuring of Nigeria.”
The meeting had in attendance the former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olabode George; former governors Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Olusegun Mimiko and Ayodele Fayose of Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states, respectively; serving and former National Assembly members and former deputy governors.
Others were the PDP Deputy National Chairman (South), Ambassador Oladejo Arapaja; former governorship candidates of the PDP in Ogun and Ekiti states, Ladi Adebutu and Prof Olusola Kolapo; and other former and serving PDP leaders at the national level.
Tambuwal rejects zoning
Meanwhile, the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, on Tuesday in Abuja kicked against the idea of zoning of the Presidency and cautioned the PDP to focus on winning elections.
He said the party would have the liberty to share power only after it had successfully won the 2023 elections at the centre and in the states.
Tambuwal said this when he met with former presiding officers of state Houses of Assembly and the House of Representatives in Abuja as part of wide consultation ahead of his official declaration to run for the office of President in 2023.
His position appears to be a clap-back on his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike, who insists that the main opposition party should zone its presidential ticket to the South-South.
After its 95th National Executive Council meeting last Wednesday, the PDP had constituted a 37-member committee to make recommendations for the zoning of various elective positions ahead of the general elections.
Given only two weeks for the assignment, the committee is expected to submit its report next Wednesday.
But speaking on Tuesday, Tambuwal said, “Now, this is for the PDP. In the South, as of today, the PDP is in eight government houses. The APC is also in eight government houses, leaving one, Anambra. In the North, the APC is in 14 government houses and the PDP is in five government houses. And they (the APC) have the President.
“I’m giving you this analysis so that together, as leaders of our party, we can work towards winning the election, not zoning, not winning tickets. Yes, we can share tickets and everybody can take his piece and go to his zone. But you must plan to win the election. That’s the reality of it. It’s not anybody’s making. I didn’t make myself come from Sokoto. No, it’s God.
“So, we must accept these realities as a party and work with these realities to win the election. After that, we can now say okay, let’s share power. Win the election first. Don’t win zoning! Win the election and then we’ll come and share power.”
The presidential hopeful noted that as the APC did in 2015, the PDP must seek viable candidates with which it could win elections and not narrow its chances through a zoning arrangement.
According to him, had the APC presented a candidate from the South in 2015, it would have lost the presidential election.
The Sokoto governor stated, “The APC took their ticket to Katsina in 2015, where the last PDP President, Umaru Yar’Adua, who died in office in 2010, hailed from. Five years later, the APC, out of strategic thinking with Bola Tinubu and the rest of them, did this. I was part of it. We said we were looking for how to zone, but we must get power before we share it.
“I deliberately took the APC ticket to Katsina to give it to President Muhammadu Buhari. Yes, Atiku contested; Rabiu Musa contested and Sam Nda-Isaiah and Rochas Okorocha contested. But we knew where we were going, because we were determined to win.
“Let me tell you, had the APC given that ticket to someone from the South, in particular the South-South, we couldn’t have won. Go and check the election results of 2007. Buhari had 11 million votes before in 2003. But in 2007, he got seven million votes against Yar’Adua because they are from the same Katsina. For the PDP, I have a question. Are we looking at zoning or winning?”
According to him, the PDP must balance the calibre of candidates it hopes to front in the elections, arguing that the party could not afford to front two candidates from the same region or religion as that would be political suicide.
He said “The President and the Vice-President cannot come from the same zone. They cannot even come from the same religion. Am I right? If you have the President and the Vice-President as Muslims, that’s dead on arrival. In the current Nigerian situation, if you have both of them as Christians, that’s dead on arrival.
“So you must balance the ticket and sit down. We cannot do what the APC has done, especially this second term, because we believe in this country and we know this country. We understand the dynamics and complexities of Nigeria’s condition. Otherwise, how else will you look at the line-up in the Federal Government like Nigeria? President, Vice-President, Senate President, Speaker, Deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker, SGF, Chief of Staff, even chairman of the party, and no one from the South-East.
“We can’t do that. Where I am involved, that cannot happen. So, what we need is inclusiveness. We can then run the country.”
On his 2023 ambition, Tambuwal said he was the most qualified aspirant to clinch the party’s ticket and to lead the nation.
In his remarks, a former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, said no opposition party bothers itself with zoning, but it must focus on winning elections.
He also taunted those advocating zoning to begin from their states saying, “Why come to the centre to talk about zoning? Are you interested in winning the centre and losing at home?”