The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF), has criticized the purchasing of presidential nomination forms of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2023 general elections by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State as against the party’s zoning arrangement.
The group, however, hailed the PDP Governors of South-South and South West, National Assembly members and other stakeholders of the party in the two zones on their commitment to fairness, equity and justice in the power equation of the country.
In a statement issued by Chief Edwin Clark, Leader; Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Afenifere Leader; Professor George Obiozor, President-General, Ohanaeze Worldwide and Dr. Pogu Bitrus, National President, the Middle Belt Forum noted that the position of the PDP Governors was a reassuring demonstration of the unanimity and resolve that the country’s next president should come from the South, in the interest of the country.
The statement said, “It must be noted that zoning had been practised in the Nation’s polity since independence and remains sacrosanct. When Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, in 1960, was the Prime Minister of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was Governor-General.”
The statement added, “The zoning of political offices, particularly the presidency of the country is the best panacea for peace, unity and progress of the country.”
The forum observed that the recent contentions by certain Northern politicians, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, on the issue of zoning, are most disappointing.
It lamented that Atiku’s comments while reportedly addressing some PDP leaders are symptomatic of desperation and somewhat arrogance, adding that his supposition that the APC has a moral obligation to zone the presidency but that the PDP does not, is self-serving and illogical.
It explained that PDP already has a National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu from the North, saying that Senator Ayu would relinquish his position for somebody from the south if someone from the North emerges as the party’s Presidential candidate is preposterous.
It added that Senator Ayu was elected at the party’s convention from the North with the expected consideration that the presidency would go the South.
The statement observed that the PDP, as a political party had always adhered to the principle of zoning since its formation, stressing that in 1998, the PDP zoned its presidential ticket to the South and the Chairmanship to the North, and Chief Solomon Lar from Plateau State became the pioneer National Chairman of the party.
The statement said the APC has also been religiously following the zoning or rotation system between the north and the south, pointing out that in 2014, the All Progressives Congress, APC, zoned its presidential ticket to the North and the Chairmanship of the party to the South, Chief Bisi Akande emerged as the party’s first interim National Chairman.
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