The tempo and condition of statehood at every point in time will go a long way to determine the next phase of political experience and actions. For example, by May 29, 2023, northern Nigeria through President Muhammadu Buhari
would have presided over Nigeria for eight (8) years.
And historically, no particular zone whether north or south had continued ruling Nigeria consecutively after the two terms of eight years.
I believe the above understanding should form the kernel of strategies for all political parties in Nigeria to adopt in their quests to expand or take over political leadership.
By this, All Progressive Congress – APC, being the ruling political party, for now, should be seen to be delivering leadership and communicating the right geopolitical balancing roadmap. This, they have started already in order to usher in fairness, equity, and justice in the polity. APC will be zoning her presidential ticket 2023 to the south.
Last week the southern governors had met to declare their stand on where the presidency should go in 2023. They concluded in their communique that the next president of Nigeria should come from the south.
The rationale behind this decision has since gained acceptance in all the political blocs and leanings in the south, and the north is gradually getting to reason along in oneness.
The last quarter of this year 2021 will avail the PDP the opportunity to confirm her political machinery as regards electing a new National Executive Committee (NEC), including the National Working Committee (NWC)
. Therefore, invariably this is the year of PDP and her horde of members to decide; a big decision indeed.
The stuff of this big decision in the forthcoming PDP National Convention will either make or mar the PDP. The future of PDP lies in the new restructuring, new zoning realignments, and the eventual big decision. A good decision will bring victory while a bad decision will spell doom.
The sympathy and consciousness for power to go south have become heavier and proper, hence I will advise the PDP family to as a matter of urgency to zone the next chairmanship position of PDP to the north in preparation for the party’s presidential primary election 2022/2023.
Owing to the reconciliation jobs being carried out in PDP thus far, getting a vibrant northerner to lead PDP to victory has already been made easy. Let us look inwards; the northerners are capable. The PDP has prepared for a day like this long ago.
The decision of the southern governors should be taken seriously for PDP to survive. The majority of PDP governors are from southern Nigeria.
Therefore, let us look at the north for the next PDP National Chairman, while we prepare for a southern presidential candidate in 2023. This is the time to sacrifice.
After eight (8) years of President Buhari’s government – a northerner, who on earth should plan to take power again back to the north for the next eight years? It is a wrong strategy for a nation and for a political party. Where is the geopolitical fairness and balancing? Some strategies to win elections at the state level may not be applicable at the national.
It all started in 1999, when the military, who were mostly northern heads, felt that political power should go to the people after a long period of agitation.
To accommodate the different diversities and geopolitical cleavages and snaps in Nigeria, political parties were structured to accommodate these sentiments through rotational presidency and zoning. For the first instance, the south was considered, and the southwest became the beneficiary.
But this did not come to the southwest on a platter of gold but on a very rugged toil of both sweat and blood.
At a point the journey became fatal and the southwest lost an eminent leader, a business cum political behemoth, a foremost philanthropist, the Late Chief M.K.O Abiola, to the struggle.
Chief MKO Abiola, a southerner, had won the 1993 presidential election but was unjustifiably denied by the military junta of President Ibrahim Babangida. It became a complicated case of the former drinking a diplomatic tea that never came to digest. It was a case of death around the dining table.
Therefore, structuring for the Presidential election of February 27, 1999, the first election since the 1993 military grip, the three prominent political parties all featured only candidates from the southwest; this was to make it easy for the southwest to scale through and rule Nigeria, and also for tension to reduce nationally.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, from the southwest, was elected to fly the flag of the Peoples Democratic Party – PDP, while Chief Olu Falae, from the same southwest, was elected to fly the joint flag of Alliance for Democracy and All Peoples Party (AD-APP).
This cooperation and understanding happened in Nigeria; it was so peaceful and it became a typical birth of fresh air.
Then there was nothing like the south contesting against the north or vice versa, and no zone was opposing any zone.
Subsequently, Chief Obasanjo on rounding up arranged for the same understanding for the north, and Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, a northerner, became the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria. The 16-year PDP government was anchored on this understanding.
It happened in 2015 when a big but bad decision ended the 16-year reign of the Peoples Democratic Party – PDP. The big bad decision arising from mismanagement of power-sharing and its attendant zoning imbroglio between north and south had conspired to show PDP the exit door from power.
The then powerhouse, the PDP government under the leadership of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had insisted that Jonathan must continue to contest the upcoming presidential election of 2015, not minding the monstrosity of the pending wrecking zoning quagmire that lurked within.
But the northern PDP leaders, including their governors, were quick to tell President Jonathan to complete his joint ticket with Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and leave the stage for them to continue, and allow them to have their full tenure from 2015.
But Mr. Jonathan who had tested power to its fullest, after exhausting the timeline of less than half of the four-year tenure of Yar’Adua plus his (Jonathan) official four years, making it five years in office, disagreed and could not accept that there was zoning or any gentleman agreement to support the worries of powershift from the PDP north.
So, the leaders of PDP mostly northerners and some other members from the south like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo became deeply upset and combined to set out for a complete battle royale against Jonathan.
This tussle led to fission of interest in PDP, whereby the northern PDP governors pitted ferociously against President Jonathan.
Other prominent northern leaders like Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who felt it was their turn to rule, teamed up with other fleeing northern PDP governors, including northern PDP members of the National Assembly, to advance support and consolidate the buildup of APC, and supported Buhari to stop Jonathan, and this took away the hard-earned political power from PDP.
Equally in this uproar were other northern leaders, some who pretended to be with Jonathan and PDP, yet they only worked with PDP in the morning and hobnobbed APC at night. Prominent among them were Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu and Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu.
Recall that Aliyu in a statement said that the 19 northern governors worked against Jonathan’s reelection in 2015 because there was an agreement with Jonathan to serve only one term which Jonathan reneged on.
However, Jonathan had called Aliyu a pathological liar and a backstabber, while former governors Jonah Jang and Sule Lamido denied knowledge of such agreement cited by Dr. Aliyu.
Again, President Jonathan, as the 2015 elections approached, became terribly hypnotized that at a point he had to make his arch challenger and a black sheep, Adamu Mu’azu, as his PDP National Chairman, purposely, to facilitate his (Jonathan) returning as the next president. But, Mr. Mu’azu chose to tow the way of APC north.
In the book, ‘Against the Run of Play’, written by Segun Adeniyi, chairman of THISDAY editorial board, Jonathan alleged that Muazu worked against him in the election: “What happened was very sad, not for me as a person, but for our democracy. Take, for instance, the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu. I believe he joined in the conspiracy against me. For reasons best known to him, he helped to sabotage the election in favor of the opposition.”
Now, zoning might be an internecinal monster, but then, it has made some states in Nigeria such as Delta state, Lagos state, etc., rotate and share political power within its different senatorial zones, thereby fostering fairness, equity, and justice, while other states such as Rivers and Benue have thrived productively without zoning.
In Nigeria, zoning should be left for states to handle in accordance with their prevailing political vagaries and peculiarities. Though some political parties in Nigeria are yet to master the consciousness and skills of applying and withdrawing the zoning sentiment, consequently, they have continued to lose at different general elections in different states.
But at the center, considering the heterogeneous and humongous nature of Nigeria, the system of allowing power to rotate between north and south should be sanctioned and sustained. In every eight-year two terms, each of the zones, north or south, should be able to produce a president, as this will engender internal cohesion, fairness, peace, equity, and justice in Nigeria.
No doubt, the naivety of Mr. Jonathan ensnared him, and that cost PDP the presidency.
The zoning contraption became so byzantine that the PDP defense force was used to build the backbone and stabilize the bourgeoning alchemy of APC strange bedfellows.
This is the summary of the story of how PDP fell from power and has become a front seat opposition in Nigeria – the aftermath of a big and bad decisions.
Yet again, all events preceding the 2019 elections afforded PDP an opening to clean her house and right her wrongs.
The sober move in PDP started when her members who moved to APC were quickly betrayed by the APC leadership. Soonest, members who left for APC started thinking of retracing steps. The PDP governors who left to become senators and new governors under APC were fast to enter into an alliance with APC leadership, but at last, they were denied and rejected by both Buhari and Tinubu.
But the PDP which they had abandoned, soon, came to excavate them from the APC dungeon and therefrom forming a new alliance which led to Senator Bukola Abubakar Saraki of APC and Senator Ike Ekweremadu of PDP becoming the president of the senate and deputy respectively.
Gradually, the PDP that earlier lost political power owing to events of 2015 elections began to gather new strength while gaining new grounds.
The Post-Election Review Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party – PDP was set up with nine-point terms of reference; the fulcrum of which was to find out what went wrong in the 2015 elections, and to chart a trajectory for the restoration of the fortunes of PDP.
Now, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, then, being the highest political office holder in the opposition PDP chaired the review committee to fathom a panacea among which was to arrange a zoning formula for PDP towards the 2019 presidential election.
The Ekweremadu committee zoned the PDP presidential ticket to the north, first to correct the error of 2015 thoughtlessness, and second to avoid pitching north directly against the south as was unwittingly undertaken by President Jonathan.
Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his committee members were smart and successful in this assignment, their ingenuity shifted power to the north, which brought an untaken victory to PDP in the 2019 presidential election, as Atiku Abubakar, the chief beneficiary of the struggle, abandoned us so soon in trenches, and left for Dubai, where he had journeyed to holiday and convalesce.
According to Ekweremadu “It is also recommended to the party to strictly apply the zoning principle at all levels. In particular, since the last President of PDP extraction came from the southern part of Nigeria, it is recommended that PDP’s presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections should come from the northern part of the country”.
In all this, one thing is clear; it is the political exigencies of a particular period that will determine what will happen next. If any political party should miss this calculation that will be over for it.
As 2023 gathers momentum, PDP had already assigned the job of zoning the presidency to a committee that was chaired by Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed. The Bala Mohammed could not summon the courage to be exact and specific over where power should go.
The committee only harangued the members of PDP NWC and pointed at where their group sympathy lies, that is within Southeast and Northeast for the presidential contest 2023. This is where the dichotomy lies.
Which zone will PDP decide to go, south or north? But, the southern governors have just made this simple.
According to Governor Bala Mohammed-led Peoples Democratic Party Committee on the Review of the 2019 General Elections, “In line with certain unwritten conventions of the nation’s history, many people think that for fairness and equity, the North-East and South-East geo-political zones that have had the shortest stints at the Presidency should be given special consideration in choosing the presidential flag bearer of the party for the 2023 elections.
“While we admit that this is a strong argument, we should not lose sight of the fact that Nigeria is endowed with many capable and very experienced leaders in every part of the country. “Moreover, the exigencies of the moment demand that nothing should be compromised in choosing the leader with the attributes to disentangle the country from the present quagmire.
“Therefore, we think that every Nigerian from every part of the country should be given the opportunity to choose the best candidate through a credible primary election as a way of institutionalizing a merit-based leadership recruitment process for the country.”
Now, you see, this is totally against the leadership push and understanding that threw up Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a northerner, as PDP flagbearer in the presidential election of 2019. And during the PDP presidential primary in Portharcourt, Rivers state. And because Ekweremadu out of patriotism, had zoned power to the north, only northerners contested.
But, Bala Mohammed, a northerner, heading a PDP review committee, now chose to become economical with the truth, and meandered on a deep hood of indecisiveness.
For us in 2023, four factors will determine this zoning thing in PDP: first is where the ruling party APC will zone their ticket to. The second is the zone where PDP has more PDP governors, the third is the governorship experience of aspirants, and the fourth will be the Age of an aspirant.
There is no going back here, we move.
Obviously, things are changing globally, there are different realignments within these four variables. The southern governors’ forum has already emerged to push for the southern presidency 2023.
Gradually, the dynamics are being set. By 2023 northern Nigeria through President Buhari would have ruled Nigeria for eight (8) years. What is your take?
… ORIADE, a media content engineering advisor, wrote from Abuja