LAGOSâ€”Founding Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo, has described the controversy over where the next president should come from as retrogressive and divisive.
Speaking with newsmen in Lagos, he said that character and political programmes should be the basic criteria for ascension to political office rather than ethnic descent, religion and other primordial considerations.
Said Olawepo, who came briefly to Nigeria from Europe where he has lived since 2008: â€œPersonal record, ideology, character and political programme must be the basic criteria for ascension to political office rather than ethnic descent, religion or any other primordial considerations.
”The ongoing controversy over where the next president should come from is therefore retrogressive and divisive when what is required is the mobilization of the creative energy of Nigerians for democratic renewal and national development.â€
He said those who were contriving the controversy about zoning wanted to give the impression that it was fundamental to Nigerians when it is not so.
He countered that evidence showed that Nigerians, ordinarily, did not hold important where a candidate hailed from in their choices for political office if issues were properly defined.
The June 12 election, which has been celebrated by many as a watershed in the history of our democracy bequeathed an unforgettable lesson when Basorun Abiola won in Kano against â€˜the son of the soil.â€™ That lesson is that Nigerian electorate would not be pre-occupied with where a candidate comes from as long as the candidate is good.â€
His words: â€œOn June 12, Nigerians not only voted across ethnic lines but ignored the fact of a Muslim-Muslim ticket in their consideration when they went into the polls and voted for a ticket which in their consideration was superior.”
â€œFor students of history, the June 12 vote for national unity was not a flash in the pan, it belongs to the progressive tradition of Nigerian electorate such as seen in the Lagos Councils in the First Republic where a record number of politicians of Igbo extraction were elected. It was such a tradition that produced Sir Kashim Ibrahim a Kanuri man in the Benue assembly.
Time and time again barring extraneous factors, the ordinary voters in the country whenever left alone, unhindered to express themselves, have chosen the path of national unity, integration and development while the political elites have made a vocation of dragging the polity to primordial levels at the slightest hint that their political interests are threatened.â€
Olawepo advised that rather than continue to feed sectional sentiments and inflame passion, genuine political leaders should focus on how to re_unite Nigerians behind progressive ideals that would move the country out of poverty and infrastructural decay.
â€œThe Goodluck administration has taken off well on important questions that immediately confront Nigeria credible elections, security in the Niger Delta and anti_graft crusade; it will be uncharitable at a time like this to heat up the polity when all hands need to be on deck,â€ he added.