Bickering Over Zoning Finally Laid To Rest In APC, PDP
There are indications that the push to have the two major political parties in the country zone the presidency to a particular region, ahead of the general elections, may have been overtaken by events as aspirants from the various regions are comfortably campaigning in all the states of the federation without any backlash.
And taking their destiny in their hands, the northern aspirants have taken their campaigns for the presidential tickets of the parties to delegates in the southern party of the country, while the aspirants from the South have strongly pitched their tents in the North where they are locked in intensive lobby for delegates’ votes.
Through this week, Vice President Osibanjo; APC leader, Ahmed Bola Tinubu; former Transportation minister, Rotimi Amaechi; Governor Kayode Feyemi of Ekiti State, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom; former Senate president, Pius Anyim, and others have been traversing northern states to seek support, even as the northern contenders, Senate President Ahmed Lawan; former Senate President Bukola Saraki; Bauch State governor, Bala Mohammed; his Sokoto State counterpart, Aminu Tambuwal, and others moved southward where they have been wooing southern delegates.
The APC has 23 presidential aspirants, while the PDP has 17, with 15 cleared by the party’s screening committee chaired by former Senate president, David Mark.
But both the governing party and the main opposition party are yet to take a firm stand on zoning.
In the APC, while the party is still silent on zoning and President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to unveil his anointed successor, four northerners, Senate president Lawan, Governors Yahaya Bello of Kogi and Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa, as well as a former governor of Zamfara State governor, Ahmad Sani Yarima are among the northern aspirants who purchased their nomination forms.
Checks by LEADERSHIP Weekend revealed that the presidential aspirants are no longer bothered about zoning because from the body language of their political parties they feel the contest may have been thrown open.
Yesterday, Senate President Lawan was in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, where he promised to give priority attention to education by making it one of the policy thrusts of his administration if voted into power in 2023 as president of Nigeria.
Lawan who made the promise while interacting with APC presidential delegates at Transcorp Hotel in Calabar said with education for the youths, most crimes and atrocities happening in the country would be a thing of the past.
While begging the delegates to vote him in the presidential primaries, the Senate president stated that the wealth of experience gained in the Senate since 1999 when he was voted into the National Assembly by his constituents would be used to lead the country to greatness.
“I know a lot about Nigeria; all the nation needs is quality education. Create job opportunities for young school leavers, security and agriculture, and you will see that the nation can move forward”, he told the southern delegates in Calabar.
The presidential aspirant noted that the time has come when the country’s focus has to be shifted to knowledge-based education just as it is done in countries like Singapore and other advanced nations of the world yet they are up there when their economy is to be rated.
“If you give the party flag to me I will win the election for you. This is because I am a friendly Nigerian”, Lawan stated, even as he urged those supporting the PDP to remember what the PDP did to this country.
Also yesterday, the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal was in Benin City, the Edo State capital where he warned his party members not to cast their ballots on the basis of primordial sentiments during the forthcoming national convention of the party.
He made the call while campaigning to the national delegates of the party in Edo at the party secretariat in Benin City.
Going down memory lane, he described himself as the most qualified in terms of legislative and executive experience among all those that have so far signified intention to vie for the Presidency in 2023.
He promised his audience that he will make good use of his chain of experience to give financial autonomy to the judiciary, the legislative and the local government councils.
I’ll Run Knowledge-based, Inclusive Government, Says Bauchi Governor
On his part, Bauchi State governor and PDP presidential aspirant, Bala Mohammed, was in the South East geopolitical zone where told the delegates that he will operate a knowledge-based government if he emerges president.
Mohammed, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), who stated this when he met with PDP delegates from the South East, added that he would ensure inclusivity in his administration.
Mohammed stated that both North East and South East which have not tested power were most eligible for the presidency.
He however described the Igbo nation as critical to the Nigerian project just as he said their entrepreneurial ingenuity and apprenticeship should be emulated by other parts of the country as a model for addressing poverty and unemployment in the country.
He said, “I am presenting myself for election and I seek your support but if I don’t win, I will support the eventual candidate of PDP because we have to rescue Nigeria.”
The governor also spoke with delegates in Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi, saying he would run an inclusive government if given the party’s mandate and win the 2023 presidential election.
He called on the delegates to join him in retrieving, rescuing and renovating the country with knowledge-based solutions.
Further disclosing the thrust of his administration to the Forum of Former PDP Ministers, the aspirant said, “I am going to have a knowledge driven administration to do away with exclusion, with division and sectionalism. We must have the best lines of ourselves where we are, where we want to go and how. We have to have a plan.
“But we are going to have a knowledge driven presidency. We are not going to be borrowing recklessly. We have done it in the FCT and I’m doing it in Bauchi, leveraging on small resources and doing much, having the correct procurement process and managing scarcity was sagacity.”
Udom Woos Benue Delegates, Says He’s On Rescue Mission
Also, a PDP presidential aspirant and Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel, was in Benue State yesterday where he told the party’s delegates that he was in the presidential race to rescue the country.
Governor Emmanuel who spoke with the party’s delegates in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, declared that he has what it takes to salvage the situation for the sake of posterity.
He said things have really gone bad in the country and need salvage actions from a committed and capable leader like him.
Emmanuel, who was personally received by the state governor, Samuel Ortom, said he was not surprised about the wonderful reception.
In his response, Ortom said the fact that Senator Gabriel Suswan, a former governor of Benue State, is chairman of the Udom Presidential Campaign Council speaks volumes, but lamented that “Benue has been under siege for a long time and a few people have shown concern and support.”
Fayemi, Anyim, Amosun, Saraki Storm Jigawa, Promise To End Insecurity, Revamp Agriculture
Also, a number of presidential aspirants, including former Senate president Anyim, Governor Fayemi of Ekiti; former Senate President Saraki and Senator Amosun were in Jigawa State yesterday where they canvassed the support of the state delegates.
All the aspirants articulated their blueprints for the improvement of the agricultural sector to fight poverty and generate wealth, just as they also promised to come up with many initiatives and strategies to tackle security challenges, promote peace, unity and progress in the country.
Adressing APC delegates, Governor Fayemi declared that as a security expert if given the mandate he would use his experience to tackle the security challenges and also invest more for the improvement of the agricultural sector for food security and poverty eradication in Nigeria.
On his part, Senator Amoson said he is optimistic that if the Jigawa arable land is developed and mechanised agriculture is supported the state alone can feed Nigeria and the story of poverty will be history of the past.
Amoson promised that if elected he will not disappoint Jigawa and Nigerians, as he will operate an open and all inclusive government to make Nigeria a happy and prosperous society.
For his part, Anyin told PDP delegates in Jigawa that if elected as Nigerian president he will develop the Hadejia Jamare Irrigation Scheme and other Fadama areas to make Jigawa one of the major food baskets of Nigeria.
“Dutse airport will be converted to Cargo Airport where meat, livestock and other agricultural produce will be exported to other parts of the world. You have the potentials and I promise to develop it to reality”, Anyim declared
Similarly, Saraki yesterday urged the Jigawa state PDP delegates to vote for him during their party primary election, saying he has a comprehensive plan for the country’s social and economic development.
“Every state has a specific area of economic comparative advantage, and I will develop it for our maximum benefits. Jigawa has vast fertile land; I will promote the use of science and technology among the Jigawa and Nigerian farmers for the increase of yield profits and strengthen the country’s food security,” Saraki stated.
Lalong, Plateau APC Delegates Adopt Amaechi
For Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong and delegates of the APC in the state, nothing would interest them more than the emergence of former Transportation minister, Rotimi Amaechi, as the party’s presidential flag bearer for the 2023 elections.
The Plateau State governor who spoke when Amaechi met the APC delegates yesterday at the Government House, Jos, said the decision to adopt Amaechi is in the best interest of the people of Plateau State and Nigerians.
Lalong who is chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum noted that all former Speakers and members of State Houses of Assembly have agreed to support and vote for Amaechi.
He said Amaechi has all the qualities of a good leader, and would save the country from its insecurity problems as well as bring development to all parts of the country, adding that Plateau State has benefited a lot from Amaechi and it is payback time.
His words: “I was very happy when I saw behind you our past security chiefs, some of the best security chiefs we have had. I see a chain of security experts following you, because the challenge we have in Nigeria today is insecurity and I know that if you become President, with these people, there will be no insecurity in Nigeria.
“I now know and have confirmed that I was right when I followed you to make the declaration. You told me that it was going to be a thanksgiving, and I said to myself, If I go to that thanksgiving and come back, Plateau people will ask me, what were you doing there that you didn’t appeal to Amaechi to declare for President? You declared for President, and I will tell you some of the things that you didn’t say and why Plateau people should vote for you.
“In 2014, we were in PDP, we were chased out. When APC came, we were running round, we wanted to join APC, many people that are today coming to Plateau, said they would not admit Plateau people into APC, I ran round, you were in PDP, you said we should go and join APC, and we came back to join APC, they were chasing us round, you gave us the support to do registration. When we registered and we were going into the election, many people that are Presidential aspirants today, I went to all of them, I said we have APC on the Plateau and they said ‘no you will not go anywhere,’ when they put up the question for registration, nobody gave it to us, even in Northern Nigeria. That is why I stand on the fact today in my State that because of what you did, I will not support a Northern Candidate. I remember what you did when you came to APC, you said we must do more registration because you said you believed in President Buhari and you took five other Governors and came to APC, that was when we were allowed to come in as APC members.
Governor Lalong added that he studied and is still learning from Amaechi, the art of good governance and project delivery, and assured him that Plateau delegate votes is his, already.
Also, the majority leader of the State House of Assembly, Yakubu Sande, declared the state assembly’s bloc support for Amaechi.
Amaechi assured that he would bring to bear his wealth of experience in ensuring massive job creation, improving the health sector as well as equipping the security agencies to protect lives and enforce law and order.
Ameachi who was also in Niger State yesterday said he will be a president for Nigeria and not a sectional leader that will be aligned with any tribe.
He also told Delegates in Minna, the Niger State capital, that he is the most experienced presidential aspirant considering the various positions he held starting from Speaker of the State House of Assembly, governor for two term, chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, and campaign director-general of President Buhari twice, among others.
Osinbajo Visits Imo, Says There’s A Lot To Be Done
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday met behind closed doors with delegates of the APC in Imo behind as part of consultations for his 2023 presidential bid.
Speakin with journalists in Owerri shortly after the meeting, the vice president said the 2023 general elections was crucial to the future of the country.
The vice president said he had a fruitful deliberation with the delegates on some critical issues that concerned the economy and the future of the country.
Speaking on the APC primaries slated for May 26, an aspirant vying for the Okigwe South Federal Constituency seat, Mrs Chiwendu Amba Edomobi, expressed confidence that the party would conduct credible primaries in the state.
Southern, Middle-Belt Leaders Berate APC, PDP
Meanwhile, leaders of the Southern and Middle-Belt regions of the country yesterday berated the APC and the PDP for jettisoning zoning ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
The leaders, under the aegis of the Southern and Middle-Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMLF), in a communiqué made available to LEADERSHIP Weekend in Port Harcourt yesterday, said rotation has traditionally served as the glue holding the Federal Republic of Nigeria together.
The communiqué was signed by the group’s leader, Chief (Dr.) Edwin Kiagbodo Clark; Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; president-general of Middle Belt Forum, Dr Pogu Bitrus; president-General of Ohaneze-Ndigbo, Professor George Obiozor and national chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien.
It reads in part: “The Meeting deliberated extensively on the State of Nation, particularly the worsening insecurity; the 2023 General Elections; and recent troubling developments in the polity.
Ndigbo To Boycott 2023 Elections If… – OYC
Meanwhile, the youth wing of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, known as Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC) has warned that Ndigbos would boycott the 2023 elections if the APC) and the PDP deny the South East presidential aspirants their tickets.
The group, in a communiqué issued at the end of her national expanded meeting in Enugu yesterday said there would be total lockdown in Igbo land on February 25, 2023 and March 11, 2023 respectively.
In the communiqué co-signed by the national president, Comrade Igboayaka O Igboayaka and national acting secretary-general, Comrade Ifeanyi Nweke, the group advised all Igbos living in the northern parts of Nigeria to take their security very serious if APC and PDP deny South East presidential aspirants their tickets,
“Adequate arrangements should be made for their return back home,” OYC stated.
The Communique reads: “In view of the recent conspiracy and political permutations against Ndigbo, (the South East extraction of the Nigerian formation) the apex Igbo Youth organization of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Ohanaeze Youth Council, (OYC) hereby issues stringent advice to the leadership of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC ) as well as that of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to jettison any plan or attempt to deny presidential aspirants from South-East the candidacy for both APC and PDP in the next 2023 presidential election as this may finally bring a sudden end to Nigeria as one united entity.
“Furthermore, we declare that if APC and PDP deny Southeast presidential aspirants their political party tickets, there will be total lockdown in Igbo land on 25th February 2023 which is the day of the Presidential and National Assembly elections. Also a total lockdown will take place on 11th March 2023 which is the day of Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections as the elections are not in the interest of Ndi Igbo.”