A Forum of Former and Serving Members of the House of Representatives has said the debate on zoning is a poisoned chalice calculated to shift attention away from the mountain of fake failed promises by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Hon. Mukhtar Ahmad, who spoke on behalf of the Forum on Thursday in Abuja during a press conference, told the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to throw the presidential ticket open for all the zones to contest.
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The forum urged PDP men and women, youths and elders to beware of the guile of the failed APC in its attempt to confuse the issues, shift the debate from performance and good governance to ephemeral and mundane issues of zoning and rotation.
Ahmad, who said the presidential ticket should be opened to all so that the best candidate will emerge to save the nation from APC quagmire and misrule, added that the party should be more concern about the personality that could deliver and give the nation a good governance.
“In a democratic setting such as ours, particularly so in our very democratic PDP, zoning and rotation at no time in our history has taken the place of the democratic and constitutional to seek any elective office, including the presidency.
“Even when the founding fathers of the party were alive, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi was allowed to have his say and the leaders and party members, through their votes, had their way.
“What mattered most to the founding fathers and leaders was getting the right candidate who was sellable, formidable and had capacity to assure of good governance and promote democracy.
“Northern leaders at the time based on the wise decision to promote equity, fairness and justice within the party allowed for a North/South power rotation hence President Olusegun Obasanjo’s eight years in office,” he said.
Ahmad said the choice of Obasanjo was strategic, adding that “Obasanjo was the one the founders and leaders of the party believed could win the elections and power would be handed over to him because of his military background and international repute. He was also sellable to all Nigerians and detribilized. Therefore, what they did then accords with the point we made earlier about the candidate being formidable and sellable.”
He, however, said the zoning system derailed when “Obasanjo handed over to late President Musa Yar’Adua, who unfortunately spent only two years and answered the call to the great beyond.
“President Jonathan thereafter took over and spent six years which made the South to have 14 years in power at the presidential level. This is why in 2019, leaders of the party in their great wisdom, zoned the ticket to the North.
“If the candidate had won and spent four years, the North would still have had only six years of 20 years of PDP rule. Where then is the equity, fairness and justice within the party in denying the North the opportunity to vie for the ticket of the PDP?
“We, leaders of the party from the defunct Northern region, are not unmindful of the fact that South East, especially, has a major claim to the presidential ticket within the party.
“However, we are also aware that some parts of the former Northern region like the entire Middle Belt in the North Central and the North East also are major claimants not having been in the saddle since the return to democracy rule in 1999.”