By Saawua Terzungwe And Abdullateef Aliyu
There are more cracks in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) over governors’ declaration that the 2023 presidential ticket is open to all party bigwigs across the six geo-political zones to contest.
Controversy is raging over zoning of the party’s presidential ticket and chairmanship between the North and the South ahead of the 2023 general poll.
Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and Kebbi State Governor, Senator Atiku Bagudu, in a statement, last Friday, declared that all party members from all zones were free to contest any position in the next general election.
But credible sources in the APC confided in our correspondent yesterday in Abuja, that some APC governors and other party stalwarts were not comfortable with the development.
One of the sources said the governors, especially those from the South, were not comfortable with the statement alleging that there was no official meeting of the governors where the issue of zoning was extensively deliberated upon and decisions reached before the statement.
It was also learnt that some groups in the party were mobilising to revolt in the event the party’s “zoning formula” was jettisoned as they claimed the move was for the North to retain power.
Some stakeholders are arguing that power had resided in the North for a long time, and while the South-West had produced Olusegun Obasanjo as president for eight years, the South-South served for six years, hence the need to zone to the South-East for fairness and equity to prevail.
An elder statesman, Chief Chekwas Okorie, told Daily Trust in a telephone chat yesterday that the APC would hit the rocks if it jettisoned zoning of the 2023 presidential ticket.
Okorie, a former presidential candidate and chieftain of the APC, said the APC should respect the sensibilities and sentiments of Nigerians in order not to crash.
“Jettisoning zoning will not be in the best interest of the party. Of course, zoning is conventional and not constitutional; any political party that has subjected itself to the conventional approach to rotation of power, especially the presidential office, will only have to blame itself at the polls if it does not do the right thing,” he said.
A member of the APC National Caucus, Chief Sam Nkire, in a telephone chat with Daily Trust yesterday, said, “I’m sure that no Igbo governor will be part of that. I don’t believe that is going to be the position of the party. It is not written in the constitution but this is a gentleman agreement.
“I believe the governors will change their position and not disgrace people. I don’t believe the matter is closed yet,” he said.
A chieftain of the party, Chief Jackson Lekan Ojo, told one of our correspondents yesterday that, “If we want to be fair enough, I think the presidential ticket of the APC should not go to the North, and should not go to the South-West, because Obasanjo has done eight years from the South-West; Jonathan has done six years from the South-South. Let the South-East take it.
“Secondly, when they said there was no zoning, they were just deceiving people; doing that to lure the aggrieved members to stay put in the party. So there must be zoning,” he said.
An aspirant for the position of the APC National Chairman, Mohammed Bello Mustapha, also said the ruling party must respect the zoning formula that was agreed upon at the inception of the party to enable it survive beyond 2023.
Mustapha, who is a lawyer, human rights and pro-democracy advocate, said based on the accord reached when the party came on board in 2013/2014, power should rotate between the North and the South.
This he said means that the presidency of Nigeria should go back to the South in 2023 and the party chairmanship should go to the North.
This, according to him, is important for the nation to remain united and peaceful.
Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC of the ruling Meanwhile, the APC National Caretaker Committee has said it is ready to hold the national convention of the party in June or at any time approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and other stakeholders of the party.
National Secretary of the Committee Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe disclosed this on Monday in Abuja shortly after an emergency meeting of the committee.