From early permutations, THISDAY can report that Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is most likely to zone its presidential ticket to the South to match the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is expected to do the same in the 2023 presidential bout.
According to checks, governors and leaders, who currently control the party, have quietly resolved to have the next president emerge from the south in national interest to douse North-South tensions ravaging the country, which they said will be escalated if one party chooses its candidate from the North and the other from the South.
The reasoning behind this decision, it was learnt, is to promote national unity and cohesion in the face of the current crisis bedeviling the country.
Multiple sources told THISDAY that the decision to settle for a candidate from the south was to match the APC, which had already agreed in principle to zone the presidency to the South after Buhari completes his tenure in 2023.
Though some power brokers in APC are moving to jettison the understanding and crown current Yobe Governor and current interim National Chairman of APC, governor Mai Mala Buni, mainstream stalwarts of the party are sticking to that understanding which will see the party rotating its ticket and zoning it to the South.
“It is clear that APC is going to the south by the power arrangements and commitment made to rotate the presidential ticket during the formative stage of the party. So, PDP will follow suit,” one of the governors told THISDAY.
The PDP leaders noted that the last presidential election, which was between two northerners brought about national stability even though the results were fiercely contested, there was no post-election violence, regardless.
They, therefore, reasoned that in the current political climate, there will be a major crisis if there is a candidate from the north and another from the south from the two main parties.
“It can lead to instability and increase the current political tensions”, one of the PDP leaders also said.
Consequently, the PDP leaders have dismissed campaign by some northern candidates, who are trying to say that the presidency has been in the south for more years than it was in the north.
These leaders argued that, cumulatively, the north had been in power more than any other region especially, when both military and civilian regimes are combined.
“So, you can clearly see that there is no argument there that the South has ruled for 13 years of PDP’s 16 years in power. If you go that route, others may as well point to the fact that the North has ruled for 43 years since independence while the South has ruled for 18 years,” a source contended.
“Right now”, he continued, “The emphasis is not on north and south but what is in the best interest of Nigeria as a country and what steps will ensure its survival. We need to have patriots who can rise to national calling, who will sacrifice their interest, or regional interest to build national cohesion for the progress of the country at this time of crisis”, another PDP leader said.
According to PDP leaders, who shared this position, the decision to field a candidate from the south is not about partisan politics but in the interest of the nation, adding that leaders from both parties should be poised to make the necessary sacrifice to ensure stability.
Other sources within PDP told THISDAY that the emerging consensus was not about PDP but about the country, and that even though a small powerful group appeared to oppose the arrangement within the ranks of the PDP, the party is expected to go ahead with the plan.
Some of those believed to be opposed to this understanding, sources claimed, include a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and a former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki. One of the PDP stalwart told THISDAY “we love Atiku and Saraki but we love Nigeria more. Nigeria cannot survive a North-South civil war, this is the time for peace.”
In the meantime, one of the APC presidential hopeful, the Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has begun his presidential campaign consultations in earnest.
He was in Taraba State last week, where he began campaign for his presidential bid by wooing non-APC states.
Many see this move as strategic in testing the waters to see if he has national appeal.