The ambition of former Vice President Abubakar Atiku to again clinch the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party may have stumbled on a block as a socio-political group, the Igbo Leadership Development Foundation, ILDF, points out that “the PDP manifesto, as archived by INEC on their website in 2019, stipulates the rotation of power as a principle that must be followed by the party and therefore the principle is actionable, justiciable and enforceable since it derives from the party constitution.”
In a press conference at the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Press Center in Enugu, on Sunday, the ILDF led by Dr. Godwin Udibe as Chairman, Onyebuchi Obeta as Secretary and Dr. Law Mefor as Director of Publicity, made the observation, implying that legally the hands of the members of PDP zoning committee are tied, and they have no choice that zone the presidential ticket to the South East, which they said is the only geopolitical zone in Southern Nigeria that has not produced a President for the country in the present democratic dispensation, albeit, since the end of the civil war in 1970.
The group therefore pleaded with the 37 members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP zoning committee to find the courage and recommend that its presidential ticket be conceded to the Southeast geopolitical zone of Nigeria.
It said that zoning the presidential ticket to the southeast will not only rest the ghost of Biafra but will also bring about justice, equity, justice and fairness among the peoples of Nigeria.
ILDF however added that it does not need to warn that there will be a consequence of the likelihood of a mass movement out of the PDP if the ticket is not ceded to the southeast. “This is not a threat but a natural response from an injured zone that has shown the greatest commitment and fidelity to the PDP as a political party since its inception.”
Due to the structural imbalances and inequity inherent in the Nigerian polity, rotation and zoning principle was written into the PDP’s constitution in 2009 as contained in article 7(2c) of the PDP constitution, it said.
ILDF further noted that the PDP had allowed power to rotate between geopolitical zones in north and south and made it both a manifesto and a constitutional matter, implying that going by the party constitution, the subsisting principle of rotation leaves PDP with no choice than to zone the presidency in 2023 to the appropriate geopolitical zone, unless it amends its constitution.
It therefore means that if Mr. Atiku, with massive funds at his disposal, gets the committee members to jettison zoning, such decision may be set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction.
In any case, the group said, “It is also important to note that the PDP manifesto, as archived by INEC on their website in 2019, stipulates the rotation of power as a principle that must be followed by the party and therefore the principle is actionable, justiciable and enforceable since it derives from the party constitution.
“Again, the structural imbalances in Nigeria have made federal character and rotation of presidential power inevitable. Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) states that ‘The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.’
“Kindly note that, owing to the indivisibility of the office of the President of Nigeria, the only way the federal character principle will apply to the office of the President as a political office referred to in the Constitution is by rotating it. And this has been the practice since 1999 but now that it is the turn of the South-East to benefit from it, some PDP leaders want to change it. That is tantamount to changing the goalpost in the middle of the game.
“Is history not about repeating itself? Those who fail to learn from history are said to be condemned to repeat class. There will be consequences. Southeast would very likely vote against the PDP in protest if denied the presidential ticket of the party. This is not an idle threat. Southeast is a PDP zone and should be treated respectfully.
“ILDF believes that zoning power to the Southeast is a matter of justice and equity, and not a matter of mere political gamesmanship. History tells us that the PDP should zone its presidential ticket to the Southeast, not to the South in general because in 1999, presidential power was zoned to a geopolitical zone in recognition of the justice of remedying the annulment of the presidential election in 1993.
“To zone to the South as a whole without micro-zoning to the Southeast is a plot to deny the people of Southeast justice and fairness, it is to betray the principle of zoning as applied to the Southwest in 1999.
“ILDF wishes to conclude by assuring the PDP of block votes and crowdfunding in support of any Southeast man or woman they chose who has integrity, competence, national acceptability. Such a Southeast candidate will surely bring Nigeria out of the woods by putting to rest the ghost of Biafra and taking the country to the next level. Nigerians will once more experience peace, growth and development.”
Former Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi had declared to run for president in 2023 on the platform of the PDP, a day after attenting the official declaration event of Atiku in Abuja. Obi was the running mate of the former vice president in 2019.
Obi, with an impressive record as governor, scholar and businessman, enjoys massive admiration from cross-section of Nigerians. Throwing his cap into the ring changed the political calculations and rejuvanted yearnings for a president of South-East extraction.