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Nigeria: Outrage over APC’s Indecision on Zoning of 2023 Presidency

Condemnations have trailed the claim by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on Friday that it had not decided on where to zone its presidential ticket for the 2023 elections.

Condemnations have trailed the claim by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on Friday that it had not decided on where to zone its presidential ticket for the 2023 elections.
Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State had before the party’s March 26 National Convention, stated that even though the ruling party had not decided on zoning the presidential ticket, the swapping of national offices was an indication of where its presidential candidate would come from.

The APC swapped its national offices between North and South, leading to the emergence of Senator Abdullahi Adamu from the North-central as the National Chairman in March.
The emergence of Adamu from the North is a strong indication that the presidential candidate of the party will automatically come from the South.
But Adamu, who spoke on the controversial zoning issue after presenting the party’s candidate in the forthcoming Ekiti State governorship election, Biodun Oyebanji, to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, on Friday, said the party had not taken any zoning decision.
He said such a decision would be the job of the entire party, which he said was bigger than himself as chairman.

He said: “I am today privileged to be the Chairman of the party. The party is greater than me. The party has not made a decision and I cannot preempt what the party’s decision will be.”
But in a swift reaction, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo; Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Arewa Consultative Youth Forum (ACYF), and the South-South Elders’ Forum (SSEF) have condemned the indecision of the ruling party.

In its reaction to APC’s indecision on zoning, PANDEF described Adamu’s claim as careless and ill-considered.
Speaking to THISDAY on the issue, PANDEF’s National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Ken Robinson, noted that with the swapping of positions between the North and South, the understanding was that the presidential candidate of the party would come from the South.
“How can he (Adamu) make such a remark? Do they mean well for this country at all? This is a man who emerged as National Chairman of the party through the instrumentality of zoning,” Robinson said.
He noted that all the positions in the party had been switched between the South and North.
“It is an established political stratagem of political parties in the country that any time the national chairmanship position of a party goes to the South, the presidency goes to the North and the other way round. In 2014, the APC zoned its national chairmanship position to the South, and the presidency went to the North; therefore, in 2023, the presidency of the APC, and indeed, any serious political party in Nigeria must go to the South. Anything otherwise would be more than an overture to undesirable cataclysms in the country,” he explained.
Also reacting, the SSEF warned that any attempt to deny the South the position of the presidential candidate of the APC would be an invitation to anarchy.

According to the National Leader of the SSEF, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, such a decision will give ethnic nationalities in the South a sense that they are not wanted in the country.
Sara-Igbe expressed the fear that any attempt to jettison the unwritten gentlemen’s agreement between the North and the South would lead to a catastrophic reaction, the end of which nobody can predict.
On its part, the ACYF has called on the National Chairman of APC, Adamu, to withdraw his statement that the party had not taken a position on zoning.

The ACYF, in a statement on Saturday, said the statement credited to Adamu was capable of heating the polity and spelling doom for the party if not quickly withdrawn.
The group said it was worrisome that the party chairman could come up with such an inflammable statement when all critical stakeholders are already on the same page on the need for the presidency to return to the South in 2023.
“The unfortunate statement credited to Senator Adamu is regrettable just as it is demeaning of his status as the chairman of a ruling party.
“Even a political novice is aware that the consensus from critical political stakeholders is that the presidency must return to the South in 2023.
“His statement that no agreement had been reached on zoning is not in the best interest of the party.
“The statement is capable of leading to electoral defeat for our great party if not quickly withdrawn.
“It is a statement that can confuse, overheat the polity and eventually lead to electoral defeat.
“Leaders must learn to weigh their words and also feel the pulse of the people when making statements on issues as important as this,” AYCF explained.

In its reaction, Ohanaeze Ndigbo on Saturday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to demonstrate strong courage and leadership by prevailing on his party to zone the 2023 presidency to the South-east.
Speaking through its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, the organisation said those who came up with the issue of dividing the country along zonal structures were not wrong.
“Some patriots tried to create six zones for the country and this was done to ensure equity, justice and fairness. That singular action has helped to stabilise the country.
“It is the same wisdom that made President Olusegun Obasanjo to ensure the emergence of a northerner in 2007 even when the odds strongly favoured the then Governor Peter Odili. Since then, power has been moving from North to South.
“This time around, Buhari has to decide and ensure that nothing truncates this process to maintain peace, unity and corporate existence of Nigeria. As the leader of the country and the leader of the APC, President Buhari must demonstrate strong courage by ensuring that power is moved to South-east after him,” the organisation noted.

The organisation, however, warned that anything outside zoning the presidency to the South-east zone would not only boomerang but threaten the nation’s very existence.
“The way APC prevaricates over this issue of zoning is troubling. We however believe that the onus lies on the president; but if he chooses to play the ostrich, he should also bear in mind that history will not be kind to him. He must sail this ship to safe harbour.
“If they fail to do the needful, let them bear in mind that restiveness, insecurity and cries of marginalisation will never cease and those championing such will be right. The President must write his name in gold by doing the right thing,” Ogbonnia explained.

Deji Elumoye, Sunday Aborisade in Abuja, Segun James in Lagos, Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu

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