…Says South enjoyed 14 years Presidency under Obasanjo, Jonathan
By Dirisu Yakubu
The Justice and Equity Group, JEG, has urged the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to zone its 2023 Presidential ticket to the North in the spirit of fairness and justice.
The JEG, a group within the main opposition party, maintained that the Presidency of the nation, under the administration of the party, had remained in the South for a total of 14 years, when former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan held sway were in the saddle, while the North, under late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua spent only two years.
In a statement signed by its chairman and former Deputy Majority Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmed Muktar in Abuja, the group argued that it will be in the party’s greater interest to go with the earlier stand of its National Executive Committee, NEC, to make the Presidential race open to all zones.
According to the group, “the best candidate, who can win the Presidential election for the PDP and change the terrible mess which the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has turned Nigeria into, should be allowed to emerge from any zone in the country.”
The group’s statement was in response to a recent press release by Prince Kassim Afegbua, a former Commissioner in Edo State and one of the former spokespersons of Atiku Abubakar presidential campaign during the 2019 presidential election.
Afegbua, had in his press release, said
among other things: “For me, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar should quit his quest for presidency and support a southern Nigerian candidate in the spirit of fairness, equity and justice as that will assuage the feelings of stakeholders from the Southern part of Nigeria”.
He added, “It will be against the run of play and natural justice for any aspirant of Northern extraction to show interest in the 2023 presidential election within the Peoples’ Democratic Party threshold.
“Given PDP’s doctrine of political power balancing and fairness, it will be against its own unwritten rule to cede the ticket to any Northern aspirant, least of all Alhaji Atiku Abubakar”, Afegbua stated.
However, the Justice and Equity Group said it is undemocratic to ask a qualified Nigerian not to contest for Presidency.
“We think that in the greater interest of the PDP, we should abide by the earlier PDP National Executive Committee decision that threw open the presidential ticket of PDP to all zones.
“Let the best candidate that can win the election for the PDP and change the terrible mess APC has turned Nigeria into, to emerge.
“While it is undemocratic to ask a qualified Nigerian not to contest for Presidency, we agree substantially that Atiku Abubakar has had his time and opportunities.
“He (Atiku) was presented in 2018/2019 as the only one with the capacity, the financial muscle , the experience to beat President Buhari. He fluffed the chance given to him by PDP. Age is also not on his side on 2023.
“Nigerians have become weary of his perennial and perpetual candidature. It may be time for him to give a younger person a chance.
“It should be noted that Obasanjo from the South contested against General Buhari from the North. Nobody mentioned that it was the turn of the North or South, because different parties are governed by their own interests.
“The PDP should be governed by permutations that will give it victory.
“A blanket ban on any region from contesting for Presidency under PDP is manifestly and patently unreasonable, unjust, unfair and contrary to natural justice. It is wrong and will not fly in a democracy.
“As a matter of fact, the North has better claims to the PDP ticket than the South in 2023”, the statement read.
The group faulted Afegbua’s position that ‘it will be against the run of play and natural justice for any aspirant of Northern extraction to show interest in the 2023 presidential election within the Peoples’ Democratic Party threshold.”
According to the JEG, “politics in Nigeria, under the 1999 Constitution, is played by political parties, not interest groups, geopolitical groups or even individuals. It is political parties that can field candidates. Nigeria as an entity cannot field a candidate. The North or South cannot field a candidate too.
“It is disingenuous for any one to mix up the fortunes and tactics of the political parties.
In the APC, President Buhari from the North is about to complete 8 years, so it is perfectly normal for APC to look for a candidate from the Southern part of the country to fly its flag in 2023.
“The matter is not the same in PDP , which is a distinct political party, governed by its rules and traditions. In PDP, under its constitution, the principle of zoning and rotation is respected,” it added.