Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has canvassed the retention of the zoning of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket in the North.
He spoke at the opening session of the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.
Arguing his point, Atiku recalled how he shunned pressure from the then PDP Governors to contest for the 2023 presidential ticket of the PDP, to frustrate the re-election bid of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Atiku, who was the presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2019 election, spoke amid the raging controversy generated by the zoning of the party’s chairmanship slot to the North, a development that could throw up a presidential candidate from the South in 2023.
“The PDP has the right to determine its rules on how the party should be governed. The people of Nigeria also have the right to determine who governs them. Where the President comes from has never been the problem of Nigeria and neither will it be the solution. I can cite examples,” he said.
According to him, there is no such thing as a president from southern Nigeria or a president from northern Nigeria, stressing that there is only one president; a president from Nigeria, for Nigeria and by Nigerians.
He cautioned that the position taken by NEC on the zoning controversy would determine the fate of the party in the 2023 election.
On why he resisted pressure to contest the 2003 PDP presidential ticket with Obasanjo, Atiku said: “Now let me come to historical events, which I said I was going to cite. Those of us who served in the Constitutional Conference, which drafted the current constitution of Nigeria should remember that after we finished drafting the constitution, we all met as members of the constitutional conference and resolved to correct the injustice that was done to a particular part of this country.
“And we said, in whichever party you found yourself, your presidential candidate must come from the Southwest because Abiola (Chief Moshood Abiola) had won election (June 12, 1993) but it was annulled. Not only was he annulled he (Abiola) was killed.
“So we all agreed as members, and we went out of the constitutional conference and we formed our parties. Those of us who formed PDP formed PDP, those who formed AD formed AD.
“At the end of the day, two parties emerged. PDP picked General Obasanjo and AD picked Olu Falae. All of these show you that Nigerians have a sense of fairness”.
Atiku had asked Professor Jerry Gana who sat not too far from him at the NEC meeting to corroborate his story by asking Gana “is that not what happened?”, to which Prof Gana replied, “more or less”.
Continuing his remonstration, Atiku said: “Distinguished members of NEC, in 2003, all the PDP governors met at the Villa and said they were not going to support President Obasanjo for a second term that I should run.
“I now referred them to the resolution of NEC, where NEC decided that power should remain in the Southwest for eight years. How do you now want me to go against the resolution of NEC. And I turn it down. And we moved on.
“So, this country has a sense of fairness. This country has a sense of justice. This country has a sense of fairness. Therefore, this thing that is inbuilt in our party, we should be able to use it, to imbibe it to make sure today’s deliberations is in the best interest of our party in the best interest of Nigeria. This will ultimately give us the victory that we asked for, to go back to the villa”.
Credit: The Nation