The 2019 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has dismissed the debate on zoning of the party’s presidential ticket as the solution to Nigeria’s leadership crisis.
Within the context of the calls by some of the party leaders that the 2023 presidential ticket be zoned to the south, Mr Abubakar’s remarks suggest a contrary position.
Speaking at the 94th National Executive Committee (NEC) of the main opposition party in Abuja on Thursday, the former Vice-President of Nigeria argued that the zoning of the 2023 presidential ticket has never been the cause of the country’s problem nor will it be the solution.
“The PDP has the right to determine its rules on how its party should be governed. The people of Nigeria also have the right to determine who governs them.
“Where the president comes from has never been the problem of Nigeria neither will it be the solution. There is no such thing as the president from Southern Nigeria or president from Northern Nigeria. There is only one president from Nigeria, by Nigeria and for Nigeria,” Mr Abubakar told the NEC members in attendance.
In respect to the already zoned chairmanship seat as well as other national officers seat, the former vice president said he would like to see a sizable number of youth and women in the new National Working Committee the party braces to produce.
Making his stance known before the NEC went behind closed doors for its decisive meeting, he posited that “the decision of the NEC today will either see the PDP into the Villa in 2023 or not” as he referenced a time when he turned down the opportunity to clinch the ticket in 2003.
He said the 1999 conference that led to the emergence of Olusegun Obasanjo was birthed out of the injustice meted out on M.K.O Abiola during the June 12 election and was agreed by all who later went to establish some of the political parties the country has today.
“This is to show you that Nigeria has a sense of fairness.
“In 2003, all the PDP governors met at the Villa, (Ahmed) Makarfi was there, and said they were not going to support President Obasanjo, that I should run. I now referred them to the resolution of the NEC that said power should remain in the southwest for eight years, then I turned it down and we moved on,” he said.
With the zoning of the chairmanship ticket to the North by the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi- led committee last week, the party presidential ticket, going by tradition, should go to the South, a move that may further dent Mr Abubakar’s 2023 ambition.
The PDP’s acting national chairman, Yemi Akinwonmi, in his opening remark, urged all members to embrace whatever comes from the meeting for the party’s ultimate goal of reclaiming power from the APC.
Atiku (dressed in grey attire) addressing PDP NEC members.
His view was also seconded by the chairman of the party’s governor’s forum, Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto Governor), who spoke before Mr Abubakar.
PREMIUM TIMES can report that the PDP National Secretariat was unusually bursting with different security operatives as speculation of disagreement ruled the atmosphere before the NEC commenced its meeting at some minutes after 3p.m.
This newspaper witnessed the arrival of 10 out of the 13 governors elected under the PDP umbrella.
Among the governors sighted were Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta State), Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Benue) and Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa).
David Mark and Bukola Saraki, who are former senate presidents, were also at the meeting as well as former ministers, former and serving national lawmakers.