Doyin Okupe, a former Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, has warned that the country’s unity and peaceful coexistence may be threatened if the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) picks its 2023 presidential candidate from the North.
He said this on Thursday in a statement following an unconfirmed report which went viral alleging that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has released the zoning arrangement for major national elective offices and positions of the National Working Committee (NWC).
According to the report, the presidential ticket was zoned to South, Vice President – North, Senate President – South, Deputy Senate President – North while Speaker – North and Deputy Speaker – South.
Okupe stated that the purported move by the APC zoning the presidency to the South is bound to shape the future of leadership in the country after the 2023 general elections.
He, therefore called on the leadership of the PDP to have a rethink and officially zone the presidency to the south in 2023, adding that any move to thwart the party’s zoning formula will be fraudulent and unacceptable.
The statement read: “This deft move by the APC has made it a political imperative for the PDP leadership to have a rethink and officially zone the Presidency also to the south in 2023.
“Any attempt to jettison the zoning policy which is central to PDP conventional policy will be fraudulent and unacceptable.
“If the PDP picks a northern candidate for the 2023 elections and because the Nigerian electorates are still largely parochial, that candidate wins at the general elections, then the north will rule for another 8years, making 16years at a stretch.
“If this type of ‘clever political manoeuvering’ is employed to alternate northern candidates between political parties, then it is possible for the north to rule the country in perpetuity.
“This is wholesomely unacceptable and undesirable and will not augur well for our national unity and peaceful coexistence.”
Okupe noted that the PDP conventional policy was an age-long practice, dating back to the pre-independence era and also when the country returned to steady democratic rule in 1999, a policy he said was a form of political concession that ensured continued unity of the country.
“There is no doubt that what I am proposing is a form of political concession. But this is not strange in our political system and history.
“To assuage the southwest in 1999 after Abiola’s victory and unfortunate death, a national consensus was adopted to ensure the emergence of a southwest President.
“Also pre-independence, the entire south had to wait for 2 years for the North to join the union and form the federal republic of Nigeria.
“We also have since implemented various concessionary policies to ensure continued unity of the country. These policies include the federal character policy and the concession for the educationally disadvantaged states in the federation for the purpose of giving children from the less educationally developed states to gain admission into tertiary institutions across the nation.
“Therefore for the purpose of equity, fairness and continued unity of the country, our party the PDP must categorically adopt the same position as the APC and zone the presidency to the south,” he added.
He, however, urged politicians to “take into consideration the barometric pressures within the country’s polity, and that unity and continued peaceful coexistence of our nation can only be predicated on the time tested principle of equity, fairness and justice”.