…as ruling party, PDP are caught in zoning dilemma
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are faced with the dilemma of zoning their Presidential tickets for the 2023 general elections. Till this date none of them has made a categorical statement over where its Presidential ticket would be zoned to. For APC, some persons feel it’s logical for the party to zone its ticket to the South. Also in the South some believe it should be zoned to the geopolitical zone that has contributed more to the party. However, some political analysts believe that both parties’ Presidential tickets should be zoned to the South if the Southern part of the country must produce the President in 2023.
The former National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun said that they would continue on the discussion that the South should produce the President in 2023; by extension this should mean that the two major political parties should zone their tickets to the South. Also toeing this line of thought is the Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu.
Asked his views concerning the Southern Presidency, Oyegun said: “We will continue to put it on the front burner on why the Presidency should be zoned to the South.” Okechukwu on his part also believes that Southern politicians in the PDP should demand the Presidential ticket of the party and for the Presidency to shift to the South in 2023. According to him, there is logic in it if the South is demanding the Presidency in 2023 and one major political party is having its ticket in the North. Pushing for this, the APC chieftain said his kinsmen, the South-East politicians, who are more in the opposition party, should make a case for the ticket to be given to them.
However, some other persons believe that it is not so justifiable for a PDP ticket to be zoned to the South, since the South took 13 and half years of the 16 years rule of PDP. The proponents of this argument are of the opinion that APC is afraid to lose the Presidency in 2023 should PDP retain its Presidential ticket in the North. According to them, APC should concern itself on where it would zone its Presidential ticket and leave PDP alone on its permutations.
In 1999 when the country returned to democratic rule, the two Presidential tickets were domiciled in the South. In 2003, it was South and North; in 2007 it was North; in 2011 it was North and South; in 2015 it was North and South; and in 2019 it was North. It’s on this premise that the Southern politicians feel strongly that the Presidential tickets should be zoned to the South. But it is obvious that the APC members are afraid that with their ticket in the South and PDP ticket in the North that they are bound to lose the Presidential election in 2023.
To buttress this view, a former National Working Committee (NWC) member of APC, said they would domicile their Presidential ticket in the zone PDP would domicile its own. He wondered what would be the rationale for giving a Presidential ticket to a zone that you know would not win. Following this line of thought, some APC governors believed that the Presidential ticket of APC should be retained in the North for the party to consolidate. Among such governors is Mallam Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State. Until recently, el-Rufai believed that an APC President in 2023 would help to consolidate the party.
The fear also that the PDP might retain in or zone its Presidential ticket to the North was expressed by the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. Dave Umahi. One of the reasons Umahi left PDP for the ruling party was the allegation that the opposition party had refused to zone the Presidential ticket to the South. Unfortunately when he was asked if APC should zone its Presidential ticket to the North, he said the party should decide on that. Umahi was alleged to have joined APC because of his Presidential ambition and with the hope APC would zone its ticket to the South. Also, for those arguing for the Northern President in 2023, they are concerned that 24 years of democratic rule, the South has taken 13½ years while North has had 10 ½ years. Their argument is that the North should produce the President in 2023 to bridge that gap between the North and South.
Similarly, some persons have argued that the present administration of APC led by President Muhammadu Buhari is not a Northern government as they have said that the North has not gained anything from the government. For them, the Buhari’s government, especially the first tenure favoured the South-West more. Those who have pushed these arguments are the Arewa Consultative Youths Forum. For them the North would produce the 2023 president notwithstanding the political party. The electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has since announced the time table for the 2023 Presidential election but parties are yet to zone their tickets.