By Sunday Ani
A political group, Concerned Ndigbo in PDP has called on the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to respect its existing zoning arrangement by ensuring that its presidential ticket is zoned to the Southern part of Nigeria.
The group also reminded the party leadership that in considering the South for the party’s presidential ticket, it should also be micro zoned to the South East for justice, equity and fairness.
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This position was canvassed yesterday at a press conference in Lagos by the group.
Chairman of the group, Prince Ejiofor Churchil noted that since the return of democracy in 1999, the PDP has maintained the zoning concept to ensure that there is peace and fairness in the party, stressing that it has never at any point in time thrown its presidential ticket open to all the zones; it cannot do it now just because it has come to the turn of the Igbo.
“It is rather very unfortunate that after waiting since 1999 till date, when it is obvious that it is the turn of Ndigbo to produce the PDP’s flag bearer, the party is advocating open ticket for all zones, thereby systematically denying Ndigbo the opportunity of producing the party’s flag bearer. However, should this ever happen, it will only establish the fact that Nigeria is not one and that one Nigeria only exists on the lips of a deceitful political class who places their selfish interest above that of national interest,” he said.
He warned that denying South East the ticket would not only discourage a greater number of Ndigbo from believing in Nigeria but it will also fuel the agitation for self rule. “Giving Ndigbo the ticket will bring unity, peace and growth to Nigeria. It will give every Igbo man a sense of belonging and mutual trust which is what Nigeria needs at this crucial time. Let’s remind ourselves that we cannot talk about peace where there is gross injustice. Justice and peace are inseparable; so, if we need peace, we must pursue justice because where there is no peace, growth and prosperity cannot happen,” he added.
He noted that the Igbo have qualified, experienced, tested and trusted people who can take Nigeria to greater heights. “Therefore, PDP has no justification to deny Ndigbo the ticket; doing that will only amount to double standards, which will at the end destroy the party,” he warned.
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Prince Churchil also called on PDP leaders to ensure that the crisis rocking the Lagos chapter of the party was resolved if the party must make any impact in the state in 2023, even as he charged the party to ensure that an Igbo man is picked as a running mate to the party’s gubernatorial candidate in Lagos in 2023.
“In Lagos, the Igbo have a great population, which if well harnessed, could bring about victory for the PDP, and on this note, we suggest that Igbo man should be made the running mate to the party’s gubernatorial candidate in 2023. By doing so, it will motivate every Igbo man living in Lagos to come out en masse and vote their own,” he said.
The group’s legal adviser, Chief Francis Egbe also insisted that the PDP should micro zone its presidential ticket to someone from the South East of Nigeria. “The declaration by the 19 southern governors in Asaba, Delta State and Lagos is a bond that power should go to the South in 2023. And when we say that power should go to the South, it should again be micro-zoned to the South East to balance the inequality and cheating going on in the political system of this country,” he added.
He argued that a situation where one zone holds power at the detriment of other zones was one of the factors that breed ethnic agitation, warning that the party must do what is right. “One zone does not have the right to hold on to power at the detriment of the other zones. Apart from Nnamdi Azikiwe and Aguiyi Ironsi, no Igbo man has ruled this country in almost 60 years. That is not fair at all,” he said.
The Women Leader of the group, Mrs. Ikealumba Rose, charged Nigerians to entrust the presidency of Nigeria in 2023 to an Igbo women if they are afraid of Igbo men, stressing that Igbo women have the capacity to unite the country, enthrone enduring peace and make the country the envy of other nations of the world.