Dissecting the recommendations of the Governor Bala Mohammed-led PDP committee on the 2019 general elections, a Board of Trustees (BoT) member of the party, Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri, in this interview, explained why the panel advised that the party’s presidential race be left open to all.
The PDP committee constituted to review the party’s performance in the 2019 general elections submitted its report some days ago, advising that the party’s presidential ticket be opened to all. Does that mean that zoning has been jettisoned?
- Insecurity: Nigeria on the brink – Defence minister
- Health workers’ hostility pushing Nigerians on medical tourism – Buhari
Well, on the surface of it, the report has de-emphasized that concept of zoning which is an article entrenched in the psyche of the PDP; meaning PDP espouses zoning for the purposes of picking candidates. But in retrospect, the candidature of President Jonathan in 2011, also, ought to by implication, diminish the primacy of zoning within the PDP, because if the party had adhered to the principle of zoning, President Jonathan would not have contested in 2011. Having contested and won, it showed that the merit of the candidate was a strong factor in the PDP winning the election in 2011. So, one would have expected that PDP would have built on that and de-emphasized zoning.
So, what the report of Senator Bala Mohammed’s committee underlines, I believe, is realizing the key ingredients that will come into play in the presidential choices of the parties. For example, the first item the committee recognised was the universal generational shift, where the young ones and women have now become strong forces in elections globally. He drew the attention of the PDP to this new ingredient in decision making.
So, we look forward to that. Nigeria of today ought to realise that the country has become weakened, the challenges have become overpowering and the panacea to this is that the president of Nigeria post-2023 should be somebody that has the capability and capacity to address these life-threatening challenges to the existence of the country. So, merit is very important and it should be very important like it’s happening globally.
It appears that the recommendation of the Senator Bala Mohammed’s committee has punctured your earlier position that PDP would zone its presidential ticket to the Northern part of the country?
No, it is a cardinal principle in the PDP that the party espouses zoning or rotation of elective offices within the country, states and constituencies. We have not shifted from that position but at all the primary elections the PDP held from 1999 to 2015, candidates that contested for the presidential nominations within the party cut across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
It was only in 2019 that you found out that almost all the candidates were of northern extraction. So, Bala Mohammed also identified before he made a later consideration that looking at the history of the PDP and other things, the North East and South East are in good stead to aspire for the presidential nomination. That was the first thing he said under that item and then he said that but looking at the challenges, merit should also be very important.
This is what Senator Bala Mohammed said but the report has been submitted, it would now be taken through the mills of the party organs; the National Working Committee, the board of trustees, the governors’ forum and then NEC before the official position of the party will be known. So, the report is an ingredient, it’s an eye-opener, it is an added ingredient into the inputs that will go into deciding who becomes the presidential candidate.
Recently, a ranking lawmaker, Senator Ali Ndume, said it will be a third term to have an APC presidential candidate from the North in 2023. But that to you in the PDP is not the case because President Goodluck Jonathan is a Southerner.
Well with all respect to Distinguished Senator Ndume, a vibrant young man and a shining star in the National Assembly, I will dissect what he said in two headings. First, we must see Ndume talking within the context of his primary constituency; his primary constituency is that he is of APC extraction. When I also spoke, I made it clear that I was speaking as a PDP person. So, as a loyal member of the APC, he has every right to canvass for such a choice for his party.
But if he has done some environmental impact assessment in his secondary constituency, Borno State, Southern Borno, he will clearly have been more conscious in saying that any candidate other than from the Southern part of the country in APC will be a third term. Because the thinking in his secondary constituency, from where he became a senator, that is not a consideration. Let me say that the parties can use all sources of permutations to choose their presidential candidates.
When I presented my stand, I was doing so believing the permutation for the winnability of the presidency if the PDP, after having been in the opposition for eight years and suffered the adversities of an APC government for eight years, the chances are that it (PDP) will put itself in good stead to win the presidency in 2023 with a candidate of Northern extraction. But, it is not just any candidate of Northern extraction, the person should also be capable of running the affairs of state.