From Magnus Eze, Enugu and Chukwudi Nweje
Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday, described the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a betrayer saying it committed political suicide by throwing its 2023 presidential ticket open to all aspirants, irrespective of geopolitical zone.
A 37-member zoning committee of the PDP, chaired by Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom in its report to the National Working Committee of the party failed to zone the slot.
But President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, George Obiozor wondered why the PDP decided to jettison zoning when it was the turn of the South, and particularly the South East.
He described the decision as “unconscionable political blunder and betrayal” of the Igbo given the price they have paid supporting the party over the years.
Obiozor stated this in a statement signed by the group’s National Publicity Secretary, Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia condemning “in its entirety the political suicide that has been committed by the PDP by its position on zoning.”
For purpose of clarity, he stated that rotation and zoning principle was engrained into the PDP’s Constitution in 2009.
According to him, article 7 (2) (c) of the PDP Constitution states: ‘In pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness, the party shall adhere to the policy of rotation and zoning of party and public elective offices, and it shall be enforced by the appropriate executive committee at all levels.’
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He said that such unscrupulous violation of the zoning principle that has been well entrenched in the PDP constitution simply changed the rules of the game in order to deprive Ndigbo the opportunity to produce a president for Nigeria.
Obiozor said history was never kind to betrayers and the treacherous, stressing that the machinations and conspiracies to deny the Igbo their due place in Nigeria was an ingratitude that daily cried to God.
He urged all the Igbo presidential aspirants to remain focused and undaunted because of the PDP shenanigans, pointing out that history will always vindicate the just.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide reiterates the position of the Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum led by Chief E K Clark that any party that does not zone it presidential ticket to the south should not expect the support of the Middle Belt and the entire South. It is therefore curious that the PDP should commit political hara-kiri at a time it is struggling for a fresh air. It is unfortunate that the PDP glomourises inordinate ambitions; any political ambition that undermines nation building should be checkmated.
“Let it be known that it runs contrary to the indomitable Igbo spirit to swallow any form of indignity, disdain or condescension from anybody or group. It is therefore highly inconceivable that the Igbo will validate a party or group that runs roughshod over its sensibilities.”
…We’ll not support northern candidate –Afenifere, MBF
•PDP’s action amounts to justice, equity, fairness –AYCF
By Sunday Ani and Chukwudi Nweje
Pan Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere and Middle Belt Forum (MBF) have reiterated their earlier position that they would not support any presidential candidate from the north in 2023, insisting that after President Muhammadu Buhai’s eight years in power as a northerner, power should naturally shift to the south.
Reacting to Ohaneze Ndigbo’s assertion that the PDP has committed political suicide by throwing its presidential ticket open to all zones, , Afenifere said it would not be drawn into the partisan affairs of what the party did or did not do.
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But, the National Publicity Secretary of the group, Jare Ajayi, however, reiterated the position adopted by the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), under the leadership of Chief Edwin Clerk and the Southern Governors Forum led by Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu that power should shift to the south in 2023.
President of the MBF, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, agreed with Ohanze’s position that what the PDP had done amounted to a political suicide.
“We said we would campaign against any political party that chose a northern candidate and if through this open process, a northern candidate emerges, it would amount to a political suicide because the Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF), Ohaneze, Afenifere and Middle Belt Forum will all campaign against the candidate, and that, by implication, means that PDP is gone. So, throwing the contest open actually amounts to a political suicide unless if they succeed in electing a southern candidate during the primary,” he said.
However, President of the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Yerima Shettima disagreed with Ohaneze’s assertion of PDP committing political suicide saying there was nothing like political suicide in what the PDP has done.
He said on the contrary, the party’s action amounts to justice, equity and fairness.
“The party knew that it was morally wrong to zone the presidency to the south; it also has no moral right to zone it to the north. The last president came from the south and in the 16 years of PDP in power, the north has only three years. And if you combine Buhari’s administration as a northerner, though from the APC, together with that of late Umar Musa Yar’Adua of the PDP, and you zone the presidency to the south, some of us will still feel that the right thing was not done and justice was done to the north. The south cannot have 14 and half years in power while the north has 10 and half years and they say justice has been done to the north; there is nothing justice about that.”
He questioned the imperatives of zoning saying, “In what way has the zoning favoured anybody since we started it Nigeria? Look at what we are going through in Nigeria today. I has never favoured anybody and that is why we are saying that enough is enough. Let us begin to look at competence, no matter where the person comes from, rather than zoning.”
…Final decision rests with NEC –Ortom
By Sunday Ani
Contrary to what has been widely reported in the media that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has jettisoned its zoning arrangement and thrown open the contest for its presidential ticket for the 2023 poll to all geopolitical zones, Chairman of the party’s 37-man zoning committee and Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has debunked the report.
Ortom said the committee only submitted its recommendations to the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), which has the final decision on whether the presidential ticket should be zoned to the south or north or thrown open to aspirants from all geopolitical zones of the country.
He stated this on a Channels Television programme, yesterday.
“I want to repeat that the committee’s work at our own level has been concluded; it is now left for the NEC to decide on what they think is the best for the party and Nigerians. We have just made a recommendation to the NEC, but it will now take a final decision. I think that NEC will soon invite us to a meeting because in any case most members of the committee are also members of NEC. So, at NEC, there will be robust discussions on what will help Nigerians and what will help the party to win in 2023,” Ortom said.
On whether the party had not taken the wrong step by contemplating whether to jettison zoning or abide by it as has been the tradition of the party, Ortom said: “We have not shot ourselves in the foot and we will not do that. We listen to the people; we are grassroots-oriented and we want to make sure that whatever we do reflects the interests of our people in the PDP and the interests of Nigerians.”
Although he agreed that there could be some dissenting voices if zoning is finally jettisoned based on where such persons come from and their collective interests within their constituency, Ortom said at the end of the day, they would still come together and look at the larger picture of winning the 2023 presidential election.
“It is not just about having a candidate, but it is about going ahead to campaign and winning the election so that we can rescue Nigeria and rebuild it. This is our paramount interest for now, but as I said, this is not the final decision. Whatever we have decided, which in our wisdom we have chosen not to make public, we are submitting it to NEC and NEC will deliberate on it, consult and take a final decision. Every average PDP member is concerned about winning the election. We will do whatever we can to give us favour before the people and make things work for us to win the election…There was money in 2015 but did PDP win? Today, we are focusing on ensuring that we get the hearts of the people and in doing so, we must ensure justice, fairness and equity and truthfulness in all that we do. We have emphasised that we will get it right this time by doing the right thing.”