The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appears to have been thrown into a fresh quandary following the recommendation of the Governor Bala Mohammed Committee that the party’s presidential primaries should be contested by aspirants from all the six geo-political zones.
Stakeholders, interest groups and members of the public have inundated the party’s national secretariat and officials with queries and protests over the recommendation of the Committee on the Review of the 2019 General Elections.
Particularly shocked were groups and PDP members from the Southeast who had eagerly awaited the handing over of the ticket to the zone.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, which is the apex socio-cultural group in the zone, labelled the committee report as most despicable, un-reflective and unconscionable.
The party, in a move to reduce the backlash, yesterday denied adopting the panel’s recommendation yet.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, admitted the huge protest that trailed the development.
Simultaneously, former Senate President Bukola Saraki begged Nigerians to give the party a second chance in 2023.
Ologbondiyan said: “Due to enquiries from our members and the general public, it has become imperative to clarify that PDP is yet to adopt any of the recommendations proposed by the Senator Bala Mohammed‘s Committee on the Review of the 2019 Elections.
“As such, it will be incongruous for anyone to assert that any decision has been taken by PDP on the zoning of the Presidency ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“PDP leaders, members and supporters are enjoined to note that party is yet to take any decision on the proposals presented by the committee.”
The Nation gathered that the PDP leadership is in a fix on how to resolve the party’s presidential ticket with many influential members insisting that the only way by which it can wrest power from the All Progressives Congress (APC) is to allow a northerner fly its flag.
This view is not sitting well with Southeast members of the party who do not understand why the PDP will now deny them the ticket despite all the support from the zone since 1999.
The zone’s disappointment was conveyed in a statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, who said the Bala Mohammed Committee’s recommendation was “despicable, un-reflective and unconscionable.”
He added: “It is very worrisome that some highly placed Nigerians who have benefited so much from the unity of the country would be inclined to decisions and actions that will further inflame the passions of the patient but aggrieved part of the country.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Nigerians agreed on the rotation of the presidency between the North and the South, in which case it is the turn of the South after the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“For clarity purposes, both the Southwest and the South-south had both taken their turns in the persons of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan respectively.
“It is rather very unpatriotic and a trifle on the sensibilities of the Igbo for the committee to even suggest the rotation of the presidency to the Northeast in the first instance and open to every part of Nigeria as a major slight.
“It is disturbing that all the indignities, perceived and real, that the Southeast suffer in the current dispensation are the outcome of the Igbo support to the PDP since 1999.
“It is on record that in 1999, the Igbo were in hock with the PDP through which Chief Olusegun Obasanjo emerged the President of Nigeria; same in 2003 and the subsequent elections in Nigeria.
“On the other hand, the Igbo had invested much political capital in the PDP only to be betrayed by its apparent lack of principles.
“The leadership of the PDP is advised to retract the comment made by Alhaji Bala Mohammed and countermand the content of the obnoxious committee report in the interest of the party.
“Let it be known that Ndigbo does not wax so eloquent on political parties. The Igbo is bound to advertise the party that caters to the interest of our people.
“It is instructive that Senator Ali Ndume, a chieftain of the All Peoples Congress (APC), is among the prominent Northerners that canvass for zoning the Nigerian presidency to the Southeast for the 2023 presidential election.
“Other prominent APC chieftains are highly committed to the realisation of this project and we will be very delighted to work with them in the overall interest of Ndigbo.
“The Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Ambassador Professor George Obiozor is committed to a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction and there is no going back on it.
“It should be noted that the Igbo network transcends geographical space and the enormous Igbo goodwill and resources across the world will be mobilised to achieve this equity-inspired project.
“In the words of Obiozor, the Igbo are a confident set of people who do not hide their feelings easily no matter the consequences.
“He added that if you deny the Igbo justice, be ready for righteous indignation, diminishing authority, denial of the legitimacy of governance and loyalty.
“The Igbo faith and confidence is based on what you deny the Igbo in the morning, they can give to themselves in the evening through hard work and perseverance. We are undaunted.”
A similar protest came yesterday from the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL), which described the committee’s recommendation as anti-people.
According to the President General of the coalition, Goodluck Ibem, it was all about returning Prince Uche Secondus as PDP National Chairman and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as presidential candidate.
He said the PDP has no respect and value for party loyalty and support.
He recalled how the Southeast has been a major supporter of the PDP since its formation in 1998 till date and how a prominent son of the zone, the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, using the G34 which he led at the time, to lay the foundation of the party.
He said the Igbo having suffered, sacrificed and invested so much towards the progress and success of the party deserve to be given the party’s presidential ticket in 2023.
Also speaking, the President, Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC), Igboayaka O. Igboayaka, vowed that the group would “mobilise against the party from Houses of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate and governor” if it denies the zone its presidential ticket.
“We will make sure that PDP will not be a party again in 2023,” he added.
Igboayaka said the Southeast has suffered a lot for the PDP and deserves to be treated with respect.
A former House of Representatives member, Dr. Chris Asoluka, advised Ndigbo to be calm as the recommendation of the Bala Mohammed-led committee was a personal view.
“That is Bala’s opinion or the view of his committee. He is entitled to his opinion. But we are watching with keen interest,” he stated.
Former President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Imo State, Prof. Chidi Osuagwu, said Nigeria should have a new constitution that would recognise the sovereignty of all ethnic groups.
His words: “Nigeria needs a new autonomous constitution that recognises the rights of the nationalities to control their affairs.
“This present constitution has thrown the country into chaos. So I am not looking up to this presidency thing. We should have a new constitution that is representative of the people of this country.
“The present constitution that allows the winner takes all is throwing the country into chaos.
According to him, “the Nigeria state has failed because the present constitution has the nation to stakeholders which means whichever group that captures it controls the treasury. We cannot continue that way.”
He described zoning as academic and meaningless.
“We must have a new constitution before we can do anything. That is what I support.”
The Bala Mohammed Committee had said the party should allow all aspirants from all parts of the country to contest its 2023 presidential ticket.
Submitting its report on Wednesday, the committee said though many people thought special consideration should be given to the Northeast and Southeast geo-political zones for the sake of fairness and equity, merit, rather than zonal consideration, should be adopted in the choice of the party’s presidential flag bearer.
It said the two aforementioned zones have had the shortest stints at the Presidency.
Other members of the committee were the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe; former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu; former senator, Stella Omu and Emmanuel Agbo, who served as secretary.
Saraki to Nigerians: Give PDP another chance in 2023
Former Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday asked Nigerians to give the PDP a second chance to run Nigeria’s affairs in 2023.
“Our country is passing through some difficulties and I appeal to Nigerians to give PDP the chance again to lead Nigeria and you will see the difference,” Saraki said in Asaba, Delta State.
He spoke while commissioning DLA Road, one of the projects executed by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
He said the current security challenge in the country and the poor shape of the economy are nothing to cheer about
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