APC, PDP PRESIDENTIAL SLOTS: Be fair, cede tickets to South – Clark, Southern govs insist

…Gowon should’ve allowed Igbo to leave Nigeria; zoning must hold — Clark

…Rotational presidency legal, constitutional — Southern senators

*It’ll be unfair, unjust, betrayal of trust, if APC zones Presidency to North, says Ndume

By Dayo Johnson, Regional Editor, South-West, Henry Umoru, John Alechenu, Rotimi Ojomoyela & Yinka Ajayi, AKURE

Southern governors, senators and elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, yesterday, insisted that power must shift to the South, next year, to ensure equity, justice and fair play in the country.

The Southern governors urged the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to end the guessing game, tread the path of equity and zone its 2023 presidential ticket to the Southern part of Nigeria.

The governors spoke on a day Southern Senators Forum also declared that rotational presidency is legal and constitutional and that it is the turn of the South to produce the country’s next president.

The governors said the APC should not have difficulty in zoning its presidential ticket to the South because “the leadership of the party ensured that the principle of rotational representation guided its decision at the just-concluded convention.  “The party chairmanship position has gone to the North. All other offices have been filled on this understanding. This is the time the leaders of the party must make a categorical statement, devoid of equivocation, on the pattern of succession,” they said in a statement by Chairman of the Southern Governor’s Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.

This is even as Elder Statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, specifically said the APC and other parties should cede their presidential tickets to the South-East, saying former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, retd, should have allowed the Igbo to leave Nigeria in 1967 if they were not to be integrated into the country.

He added that there might be no Nigeria without zoning in response to those urging the APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to throw the presidential race open to all parts of the country.

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Meanwhile, a fresh crisis is looming in the PDP over zoning, and production of ad-hoc delegates’ lists across the country, just as former Kaduna lawmaker, Senator Shehu Sani, said the only way the South could produce the president is for the APC and PDP to pick Southern candidates.

It’s the South’s turn to produce a president

Insisting that “it is the turn of the Southern part of the country to produce the next President,” Akeredolu, in the statement entitled, “Our party, APC, must tread the Path of Equity,” said: “The party (APC) leadership should have no difficulty in making a pronouncement on this very important issue, just as it has fixed various fees for the purchase of forms.

“This must be done without delay. The principle of Federal Character is enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, as amended. It will be disingenuous for anyone to argue against rotation at this period.

“We must not keep our party men and women guessing on the position of the leadership of the party. This is the time to weigh in and take control of the process.

“No statement must suggest, even remotely, that the party harbours certain sentiments which may predispose it to consider throwing the contest open. This is certainly not the time for equivocation. Equity dictates that we take a stand.

The statement further read: “Our party, the All Progressives Congress, has started the process which will eventually culminate in the presentation of elected political leaders, who must steer the affairs of the country for another term. We have been able to hold the party’s Convention successfully.

“New officers of the party have emerged in a process that is widely acknowledged as rancour-free.

“The level of understanding and maturity displayed by all and sundry has been commendable. Known adversaries have been forced to accept the emerging fact that our party is formidable and ready for the next general elections.

“The current socio-economic crises are surmountable. It is commendable that the government is addressing these issues without drama. The Federal Government and leadership of our great party will come out stronger. We cannot, therefore, afford any internal bickering which holds the potential promise of causing distrust and militating against cohesion, harmony and the zeal to achieve set objectives.

“The current democratic dispensation is anchored on the unwritten convention driven by a principle of equity.

“Political expediency dictates, more appealingly, that while adhering to the spirit and letters of the laws guiding the conduct of elections and succession to political offices, we must do nothing which is capable of tilting the delicate balance against the established arrangement which guarantees peace and promotes trust.

“Our party just elected officers on the established principle of giving every part of the country an important stake in the political calculus. The focus has now shifted to the process which will culminate in the participation of our party in the general elections scheduled for next year.

“All lovers of peace and freedom must do everything to eschew tendencies which may predispose them to make decisions which promote distrust and lead to a crisis, the end of which nobody may be able to predict.

“The leadership of the party ensured that the principle of rotational representation guided its decision at the just-concluded convention.

“The party chairmanship position has gone to the North. All other offices have been filled on this understanding. This is the time the leaders of the party must make a categorical statement, devoid of equivocation, on the pattern of succession.

“The party Executive Committee has fixed a fee for the purchase of the nomination form for the office.

“It is expected, fervently, that it will proceed to complete the process by limiting the propensities for disagreement to a region for possible micro-management. It is very expedient that we avoid self-inflicted crises before the general elections.”

Gowon should’ve allowed Igbo leave Nigeria;  power must come to South – Clark

Leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Chief Edwin Clark, has stated that former military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, should have allowed the Igbo to secede at the outset of the civil war in 1967.

Clark, who said this during an interview on Arise TV, yesterday, where he condemned the unfair treatment of the South-East, stressed the need for the zone to be given a sense of belonging. He urged all political parties, especially the APC and PDP, to zone their presidential tickets to the South-East.

“My idea of zoning the Presidency to the South-East is well-known. No Nigerian will like to live in a country where certain people believe that they have the only right to lead. The APC believes the 12 million votes of President Muhammadu Buhari might be eroded if it is zoned to the South. The PDP is also considering zoning to the North. This is unfair.

“Nigeria stood on three legs, and it has never been steady since one of the legs was destroyed during the Civil War. I unpacked all these facts in my forthcoming memoir ‘Brutally Frank’,” Clark stated.

He added that there is no moral justification for keeping people who are not being treated fairly, stressing that the region must be treated with a sense of belonging.

Clark noted that it is unacceptable for a region to have a domineering spirit because of its population, adding that those opposed to a South-East presidency in 2023 are ready to see the end of Nigeria.

“Gowon should have allowed the Igbo to go if they are to be treated as second class citizens. If zoning, which will heal the wounds, is not done, there will be no Nigeria. Nobody will remain in this country as a second class citizen.

“The North believes their population can be used to oppress other Nigerians. This is not acceptable. The era of that has gone. There are many good northerners but the Fulani-oriented ones want to dominate everywhere.”

How power can shift to South —Shehu Sani

Following the clamour by some Nigerians and political groups for the zoning of the presidency to the South-East, a former Kaduna lawmaker, Shehu Sani, said the only way the southern region can produce the president is for the APC and PDP to pick Southern candidates.

Sani said this in his tweet on Tuesday, which read, “Power will shift to the South only if the candidates of the two main political parties are picked from the South.”

However, the APC and the PDP are still undecided on where to zone the presidential ticket.

Recall that the APC National Chairman, Adamu Abdulahi, had said that the party is yet to decide on zoning.

Criticisms trail Adamu’s remarks

Meanwhile, Adamu’s statement met severe criticism from indigenous groups like the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, who stated that neither Adamu nor the Northern Elders Forum, could kill zoning, adding that politicians should not attempt to be cunning about the discussion on zoning.

Sani had added in another tweet that the people that could not be ignored in the elections in 2023 remained the “Northern poor.”

“The most critical group of voters no national political party will ignore is “the Northern poor.” They vote in the direction of their sentiment and the interest of those who control them, and not on their collective plight.”

Rotational presidency legal, constitutional —Southern Senators Forum

Chairman of Southern Senators Forum, and Chairman Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, yesterday, declared that rotational presidency is legal and constitutional.

The APC chieftain described the clamour for rotation of the presidency between the North and South as a legal and constitutional agitation recognised by Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

Speaking in Ado-Ekiti during an empowerment programme for his constituents across the five councils in the zone, Bamidele, who represents Ekiti Central, described the agitation for zoning of the presidency to the South as a legitimate request.

Addressing journalists at the Oluyemi Kayode stadium, in Ado Ekiti, the venue of the event, Bamidele said: “Rotational presidency is legitimate and constitutional.

“Let me state that Section 14 of the Constitution and various sections of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, stated that no section of the country should dominate others in terms of positions.

“Let me also state that the primary concept of governance is the welfare and good governance. The section emphasized that Nigeria shall not be governed in such a way that any particular section will have a domineering advantage over others.

“That is the whole essence of equitable distribution of wealth and power. Part of the equitable distribution of power is allowing the presidency to rotate between North and South. Though the constitution didn’t say specifically about rotation, logically and through various judicial interpretations, allowing it to rotate is legal and constitutional.

“Speaking as a Nigerian, there is social tension in Nigeria today and when you have situations whereby Nigerians are beginning to doubt our togetherness and no longer trust leadership, people should not be thinking about political dominance.

“There is no part of this nation and zone that cannot produce the best. If you check properly, the majority desire in APC is that there should be a free, fair and credible primary to elect our presidential candidate and not by imposition,” he said.

Fresh crisis looms in PDP over zoning, Adhoc delegates’ list

Meanwhile, a fresh crisis is looming in the PDP. This, those familiar with happenings within the party explained is due to the unresolved issue of zoning as well as the dispute over the election of ad-hoc delegates across the 36 states of the federation.

Each of the states, including the Federal Capital Territory, is expected to elect three delegates who will partake in the election of the party’s standard-bearers for the 2023 general elections at all levels.

Vanguard gathered in Abuja, yesterday, that while Presidential aspirants of southern extraction are reaching out to party leaders to zone the ticket to the South, their Northern colleagues want the contest for the ticket to be left open.   Some party stakeholders especially in the party’s strongholds in the South are up in arms against their state governors, who they accuse of hijacking the delegates’ election in furtherance of their personal ambitions.

Already, party stakeholders in Abia, Oyo, Enugu and Rivers states among others are currently engaged in battles of attrition with their governors.

Aggrieved members of the party in Abia stormed the state party secretariat in Umuahia, yesterday, to register their displeasure over alleged undue interference by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.

In Oyo, it appears the truce brokered by Senator Bukola Saraki-led National Reconciliation Committee, has broken down.

The party’s only Senator representing Oyo South, on Monday, resigned his membership following a renewed disagreement with Governor Seyi Makinde.   In Enugu, party loyalists are beginning to question whether “Enugu is in the hands of God or in the hands of thugs,” following the violence which was reported in parts of the state during the delegate’s elections.

Contacted, the PDP National Vice Chairman (South-East), Ali Odessa, dismissed speculations of news of violence during the exercise in his zone.

He told Vanguard on the phone that the exercise was peaceful as there has been no official report of anything to the contrary before the party leadership in the zone.

Odefa said: “The exercise has been peaceful across our zone. We have not received any report to the contrary. If there has been any irregularity, I am sure it will be brought before the appeals panels we have set up.”

A high ranking member of the party leadership said: “We are fully aware of the level of anxiety and the ongoing lobby to at least zone the Presidency to the South while allowing others to still contest. Don’t forget, we have always had a zoning committee.

“We are equally aware that the ruling party is waiting and praying for us to make a mistake for them to cash in, we are treading softly and I can assure you we will come up with a position that is best suited for our party and Nigeria.

“Zoning is in our constitution, we have been zoning since we formed this party over two decades ago. Now, because we made a mistake and lost power in 2015, we are being forced to rethink our strategy.

“The ruling All Progressives Congress has performed woefully and Nigerians are looking up to us for the direction that is why you see so much interest in who becomes our flag bearer. We will not disappoint Nigerians.”

It will be recalled that former Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, has been very vocal about his desire to see the party zone its Presidential ticket to the South because according to him, it is the right thing to do.

However, his former Anambra State counterpart and fellow aspirant, Mr. Peter Obi, would rather have the party decide what was best on the issue.

Obi said: “Whatever the party does, for me is to care more about what Nigerian people are looking for. How do we create a future for the teeming unemployed Nigerian youths pulling Nigerians out of hunger? The party has the final say.”

Speaking in a similar vein, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Emmanuel Udom, who was asked his position on the decision by Southern Governors that the Presidency be zoned to the south, said, “the Party is supreme; if the party has spoken we will abide by what the party has said.”

It’ll be unfair, unjust, betrayal of trust, if APC zones Presidency to North, says Ndume

Alson baring his mind on the issue yesterday, former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South, said it would be unfair, injustice, betrayal of trust and a gentleman, if the APC zoned the Presidency to the north.

He said for fairness, justice and equity, the ruling party should zone the 2023 Presidency to the South.

Ndume said: “That will be unfair, injustice and almost a betrayal of trust of a gentleman man agreement.

“We had an agreement, though not written in 2015 that the North should produce the President. That was why all the presidential aspirants were from the North: Atiku, Nda Isaiah, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Muhammadu Buhari, all contested.

“Only Rochas Okorocha just participated because he already had the governorship ticket in his pocket. He just participated for the sake of it because Buhari even won in Imo State.

“ That was why no aspirants contested from south-west, south and south-east. I believe in justice; I am not against anybody from the North contesting, it is their constitutional right.


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