Senator Gabriel Suswan representing a Benue Senatorial District told a newspaper that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would still zone the office of the President to the North in 2023. The distinguished senator may or may not be a member of the PDP’s National Executive Committee (NEC), the highest decision making body. But there is no information that the Party’s NEC has come out with any zoning formula and taken such an insensitive decision.
Yet, the senator was not circumspect and spoke like a prophet without any doubt. Rather than dismiss Suswan’s information as a nonissue, he should be taken seriously as it is always better to err on the side of caution. Also, knowing the PDP, it is a Political Party known to thrive on cliques and since it lost the 2015 Presidential election, it has blundered from misfortune to misfortune due to bad choices imposed on the Party by such cliques.
Suswan’s words at least as a founding member of the PDP, a former governor and now a Senator, “Of course, the PDP will maintain zoning. We have not realised it, so the zoning still remains in the North in the PDP. In PDP, we zoned the Presidency to the North and have we realised it? No. So, the zoning still remains in the North for 2023.”
Recall the imposition of Ali Modu Sheriff on the Party by just two governors of the PDP and how the Party was racked and nearly wrecked by crisis for two years until the Abubakar Maikarfi/Ben Obi Committee rescued the Party. These cliques are alive and well and dragging and digging into the soul of the Party and never giving a damn about the common interest or preponderances.
In 2014, despite agreements reached and convention that the office of the President rotated between North South, a clique convinced Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to go against it and damn the consequences. Impunity reigned supreme and to ensure that nobody contested with Jonathan, the PDP printed only one nomination form for the office of the president and handed it to Goodluck.
The North protested and felt so betrayed. Their political sagacity was called into work and four main political blocks came together to remove the PDP from power and that gave birth to the All Progressives Congress (APC) formed the said legacy parties.
Power, they say, corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It was so strange that the PDP believed they would retain in 2015 after its 5 governors, nearly two dozen senators and nearly a hundred honourable members of House of Reps formed the nPDP and joined the legacy team. Chibuike Amaechi won to retain his position as Chairman of the Governors Forum from opposition. These were enough signals for the PDP to understand that the party was over; yet they didn’t smell the coffee.
PDP defeated PDP in the 2015 presidential election in the sense that the main opposition was inspired and driven by members of the PDP whose ranks swelled as the impunity grew. Likes of Bola Ahmed Tinubu saw the gap and cashed in and pushed for the mega coalition with Buhari as the arrowhead. PDP lost scandalously but predictably. It was a self-inflicted injury, an own goal.
The Peoples Democratic Party is at it again and the sad history is about repeating itself. Otherwise, what is the rationale behind the claim that the PDP was bound to zone the President to the North in 2023? Senator Suswan who disclosed the plan said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) failed to win the last two presidential elections after zoning the office of the President to the North, and as such, the Party would still zone the office to that way since it hadn’t succeeded.
The argument of the distinguished senator is most unfortunate for ignoring the monumental contributions of the South East and the South South to the fortunes of the PDP since its inception. Particularly the South East, which has stuck with PDP since inception but has not been given the chance to fly the PDP flag or to produce Nigerian President since the return of the country to democracy in 1999.
Suswan’s logic is embarrassing to say the least for stating that for failing to win the last two presidential elections, there was a need to keep trying with a northern candidate. This is tantamount to reinforcing failure.
More importantly, rotation of the office of the President is not based on the postulation of Senator Suswan. Power has stayed for two terms in the North and has to move South in the spirit of rotation and zoning, which has been the practice since 1999. All the political parties ought to flow with this national consensus in the same direction. PDP cannot be moving North when the other Political Parties are supposed to be moving South. It will be an unfortunate example.
Members of the PDP thinking like Senator Suswan have not learned anything from history. South East have always voted PDP en-masse and can also vote against the Party en-masse if their interest is taken for granted as Suswan is saying. They should be forewarned that they are taking the support of the South East and the South South for granted and should be prepared to reap bountiful protest votes in 2023 should the party follow the treacherous path.
Thankfully, the PDP is not the only National Political Party so the South East would follow enmass any credible alternative through which the zone can realise their aspiration of leading the country since the end of the civil war. This aspiration is not only legitimate but also a matter of right.
National Conversations have been going on the need for healing and unity of the country. There have also been strong movements for Nigerian President of Igbo extraction, which has gained so much traction, national visibility and acceptability, a hope the PDP is set to dash. Soon, the PDP will see that there are groups across the country that have vowed to fight till the Nigerian President of Igbo extraction is realised.
So, even if it means dumping the PDP the South East has supported since inception, so be it! A word, they say, is enough for the wise.
· Dr. Law Mefor writes from Abuja; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; tweet: @LawMefor1