The decision of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to zone its chairmanship slot to the North has divided some interest groups from that part of the country.

Many political commentators are saying that by zoning the chairmanship slot to the North, the party might likely pick its presidential candidate from the South for the 2023 presidential election

Publicity Secretary of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Emmanuel Yaweh, said the North does not object to where the president of Nigeria in 2023 comes from.

“What many people don’t understand is that the constitution has spelt out clearly that the responsibility of picking candidates is rested on political parties. ACF is not a political party and so it is not our business where a political party picks its candidates for any election.

“The belief that Northerners don’t want Southerners to rule is not true. In 1999, Northerners voted overwhelmingly for Obasanjo, a Southerner. Before then, during the Babangida transition period, the North voted overwhelmingly for Abiola, even against a Northern candidate, Tofa, who lost in his polling unit, his ward, his state, Kano and the whole of the North.

“What we have resolved is that when the political parties have picked their candidates, we shall interact with them to know their programmes for the North and the outcome will make us to decide.

“It is a wrong belief that a Northerner will always favour the North than the other parts of the country. We have a Northerner as president, yet insecurity is a bigger problem in the North than any part of the country; our children cannot go to school, our farmers cannot go to farm for fear of kidnappers, our people are suffering and yet we have a Northerner as a president. It wasn’t so bad when we had presidents from the South in Obasanjo and Jonathan,” Yaweh said.                 

President, Northern Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Isah Abubakar argued that, since PDP wanted to return to power in 2023, it is a must for it to pick the presidential flag bearer from the North, since it is a game of number which the North has.

According to Isah, “the PDP zoning of chairmanship position to the North is a calculated attempt to marginalize Southern politicians in 2023. This is because PDP will still pick its presidential candidate from North

“For some of us who have been following political trends in the country, we will remember that Ahmadu Ali was the national chairman of PDP, while Umar Yar’ Adua emerged the party’s presidential candidate in 2007; all from the North. We may be having a repeat of that.

“PDP is after coming back to power in 2023. So, the party’s think tank must ensure that the presidential candidate comes to the North and this must be strategically done without offending the party members. As I said, the North has the population and PDP will not take the chance of doing otherwise if at all it’s ready to wrestle power from APC.”

President, Unified Nigerian Youth Forum, Abdulsalam Mohammed Kazeem, also described the development as strategic.

He said: “The PDP’s decision to zone its chairmanship candidate to the North is strategic, which takes only those who are critical objective observers of the party politics since 1999 till date to know what that means.

“The ruling party is likely to zone the presidency to the South and party chairmanship to North Central. Going by that, the North has a population advantage over the South. But this population is only useful to the region periodically and because of the North’s love for power and headship, it would rather support a Northerner in PDP.”

President of Arewa Defence League, Murtala Abubakar, said zoning was clandestinely reached in order to stop politicians of Northern extraction from contesting for the number one political office in the country under PDP come 2023.

“The decision of this committee to zone the national chairmanship position to the North at this point in time is not done in good fate if the PDP will win the 2023 general elections.

“It’s rather a wicked gimmick to blackmail Nigerians of Northern extraction of their legitimate rights to contest the presidential slot on the platform of the party in the forthcoming general elections.

“The PDP had ruled Nigeria for 16 years with massive support from Northern votes. Out of these, 14 years was by two presidents of Southern extraction- Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan.

“The late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, a Northerner served for only three years; and if the PDP’s idea of rotation and zoning is still about fairness, equity and justice, it is only reasonable that PDP zones the presidential slot to the North for the next eight years to allow it benefit after the South had benefited for 14 years.

“Well, from the general reaction to this decision on zoning, many people, especially from the North, were disappointed.  Let me tell you why many Northerners are not so happy. Firstly, since 1999, the party has only ever given presidential slot to the North under the late Yar’Adua. So, it is logical that today, if they give the party chairmanship to the North, the presidential seat remains elusive. Let us look at the figures.

“The committee that made the recommendation in the first place, was one-sided in favour of the South. Nine out of the 13 members of that committee were from South and the North has only four,” he said.

SUN