A declaration by governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress suggesting that the party may jettison zoning in 2023, is causing disquiet within the party.
The Chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, Abubakar Bagudu, while welcoming the Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade into the party last week had said, “APC belongs to all Nigerians.
According to him, “Everyone, from every part of the country is free to aspire for any position in the party in line with provisions of our party’s constitution and the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.”
Some party supporters have interpreted this statement to mean an attempt to renege on a gentleman’s agreement among leaders that the Presidency should go to the South in 2023.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Concerned APC Members, a pressure group within the party, Abdullahi Dauda, alleged in an interview that a kite was being flown.
He said, “We know this has been the plan of some people all along. But as a party, we must respect agreements, the North has had its turn in, 2023 the presidency should go to a southerner.”
A former National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, in an interview on the subject of zoning said , “This is not an issue. The issue is that, from the nature of politics, zoning is inevitable; even in the local government, ward, the people who speak the same language and practice the same religion.
“Zoning is inevitable because there are different areas in that ward or in that local government with different interests, different needs so you cannot take from only one place in the ward even if you are the most qualified it’s not possible.
So, zoning is not something you can wish away, zoning is practiced worldwide. In other areas it may be less primitive but it is still there, it is whether they call it zoning or something else it is still there.”
Also, an Enugu State chieftain of the party, Osita Okechukwu, said, “My happiness is that the governors of our great party are speaking with one voice; that’s a good development. We have heard them, our own Progressive Governors Forum; their position is that every APC member has the chance to contest for the presidential slot.
“This is normal and the legal position of our great party’s constitution. However, as we approach the presidential primary in 2020, the issue of zoning convention agitation will surface, especially from the Southern belt.
“For example, my geopolitical zone, the South-East will be appealing to the two dominant political parties – APC and PDP – to adhere to the Falae/Obasanjo model of 1999 and the Yar’adua/Buhari model of 2007. For the 4th Republic commenced with the zoning or rotation convention as the foundation for equity, natural justice and good conscience.”
This, he said, was a sure way of running IPOB out of business.