October 4, 2023

LAGOS – As the controversy over zoning con­tinues to rage in the ruling All Pro­gressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2023 general elections, supporters of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the national leader of the party, are spoiling for a showdown over attempts by some powerbrokers in the party to short­change him, Daily Independent has gathered.

Speaking with Daily Independent on Sunday, two of the party’s elders in the South-West, said the reason Tinubu has chosen to remain silent on the issue is because of his respect for President Muhammadu Buhari and the need not to distract him with the politics of 2023 at the moment.

They, however, said they have been mounting pressure on the former two-time governor of Lagos to speak out now owing to what they called a calculated attempt to deliberately scheme him out of the race.

Despite the fact that Presi­dent Muhammadu Buhari, the first president produced since the formation of the party in 2013, will be completing two terms of eight years in 2023, there has been division in the party as some chieftains are rooting for another Northerner to succeed Buhari.

Last week, Minister of Works and Housing, Baba­tunde Fashola, urged the APC to respect its zoning formula in picking its presidential can­didate for the 2023 elections, adding that the decision is the core of the agreement reached by APC founding fathers prior to the 2015 elections.

According to him,“The truth is that what makes an agree­ment spectacular is the honour in which it is made, not wheth­er it is written. If it was written, there would be no court cases of breach of contract because it’s a document that is written and signed that go to court. The private agreement you make with your brother and sister should not be breached. It must be honoured.”

Even though Fashola’s po­sition has generated divergent views in the party, with some APC leaders even challenging him to provide names of those who were in attendance when the agreement was reached, our source said Tinubu and many APC leaders in Southern part of the country are fully in sup­port of what he said.

The source, who is a mem­ber of the Governors Advisory Council (GAC) in Lagos, also said the visit of some South- West leaders in APC led by Chief Bisi Akande, former interim national chairman of APC, to President Buhari in Aso Villa few days ago has to do with the controversy on the zoning formula.

“Fashola has spoken on the issue of zoning. His position co­incides with the belief of many of us who are rooting for Asi­waju as president in 2023. Not only us, most Southerners are of the strong opinion that once Buhari’s tenure ends, the par­ty should zone it to the South. It can go to the South-East, South-South or South-West but definitely not anywhere around the North.

“Asiwaju has been silent on this matter and many of us are already mounting pressure on him to speak out and take a definite position on this matter. He has told us privately and has even issued public statements that this is not the right time to discuss the issue of 2023 because President Buhari has not even completed two years in his sec­ond term.

“But it seems some people in the party are taking his si­lence as a sign of cowardice. We will wait and see how the development unfolds but we are already telling Asiwaju to speak out before it is too late. To us, the presidency should be zoned to the South. When it gets here, we will sort it out amongst the three zones which are the South-South, South-West and South-East. The North has no business in this matter at all”.

Also speaking, another par­ty leader who is also canvassing for Tinubu’s emergence said they are waiting for directives on what to do.

“We don’t want to react to speculations or hearsay. Have they zoned it to the North? The answer is no. Let them zone it to the North first and then we will know the next steps to take. My final word is that those champi­oning for another Northerner to emerge after Buhari should not play into the hands of the PDP.

“They should also remem­ber that the APC is not a North­ern party. It is a merger of polit­ical parties which include CPC, ACN, ANPP and part of APGA. Let them also remember that our president couldn’t suc­ceed in his aspiration in 2003, 2007 and 2011 until Asiwaju approached him for a merger and he won in 2015”.

When asked if he will be surprised if another North­erner emerges as the APC presidential candidate in 2023, Prince Tony Momoh, a for­mer Minister of Information and one of the party’s national leaders, said while all qualified aspirants from all parts of the country are free to contest, only the person who has the highest number of delegate votes will emerge as the presidential can­didate.

Momoh, who cited the ex­ample of the opposition Peo­ples Democratic Party (PDP), said in 1999, despite the fact that the party zoned the ticket to the South-West, other Nige­rians from other regions such as the late Abubakar Rimi and former Vice President Alex Ekwueme also vied for the party’s ticket.

He said, “It is not a question of being surprised or not. It is a question of someone who has clout and support contesting and emerging as the presiden­tial candidate. There is no way anybody who doesn’t have any support especially from dele­gates all over the country will come out and say he wants to be president.

“In other words, many peo­ple who say they want to be president and don’t have the support of the delegates will be wasting their time. It is the person who has the support of the delegates, no matter where he comes from that will be the person flying the party’s flag. That is the process in every political party, not just in APC.

“For instance, in the APC during the presidential prima­ry in December 2014, people contested from the South-East, North and all over the country. But the fact is that we wanted Buhari to become our presi­dential candidate and those who have that commitment organised the delegates for Bu­hari to emerge. It wasn’t all the Northern delegates who voted for Buhari then. Many of the delegates from Kano voted for Kwankwaso, others voted for Atiku, Okorocha, Nda Isaiah and others.

“Anybody can come from anywhere as long as you have the votes of the delegates, that is what will get you the ticket. So, nobody should think of zoning and then go and sit down and expect that you will be the presidential candidate. It doesn’t happen that way”, he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *