Reports emanating from the camp of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) indicate that the party has finalized plans to zone the office of the President to the North in the 2023 election.
12 out of the 13 governors of the party have unanimously agreed that the office of the National Chairman should remain in the South. This automatically means that the office of the President goes to the North because, by some informal rule of thumb to satisfy the need for balance, both offices cannot go to one region.
The one governor who opposes this plan is Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
One governor from the Northeast was said to have argued in a meeting of his colleagues in Abuja recently that it is dangerous for the PDP to present a southern presidential candidate for the 2023 polls.
The substance of his argument was that many northern members of the APC would readily vote for a northern PDP candidate over a southern APC one.
That argument may have convinced all the PDP governors and persuaded them to accept the plan, thus foreclosing the possibility of zoning the presidency to the South.
All of this is happening even as the party prepares for its October 30 and 31 national elective convention.
Recall that the party had set up a committee to discuss the vexatious zoning issue and make recommendations. Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State chaired the committee.
Although the committee has not yet made a definitive statement on the zoning of offices in the party's National Working Committee, the party's 94th NEC meeting of October will ratify its recommendations.
But the implications of the PDP zoning the presidency to the North are counterproductive to the party’s ambition to return to power come 2023.
The zoning of political offices is a sensitive issue in the nation's power calculation. Although it was initially adopted to solve the problem of marginalization which had become a persistent cry in the past, its implementation has been problematic.
The dominant sentiment in the nation right now is for power to shift to the South in 2023 when President Buhari, a northerner, will complete his constitutionally allowed two terms in office.There has been a persistent and loud clamor for this for some time now.
Interestingly, most of the PDP governors who have now endorsed their party's zoning plan are members of the Southern Governors Forum (SGF) which has unanimously resolved to work to ensure that the South produces the nation's next president.
Ironically, while the body is fighting hard to see its resolution come to fruition, its members in the PDP are singing a different tune.
I have argued in a previous article that the North continues to enjoy an unfair political advantage over the South because of the lack of unity in the latter. We can see that playing out here yet again.
Even though some would argue that the PDP's last President, Goodluck Jonathan, was from the South and so it is reasonable for the next one to come from the North, our current reality is that a northerner, President Buhari, would have been in the saddle for two terms of eight years by 2023.
It is only logical, therefore, for the PDP to pick a southern candidate, even though the current president is of the APC.
This is even more so because Nigerians are not favorably disposed to having another northerner take over from President Buhari in 2023, especially given the widespread allegations of bias and favoritism against the current administration from the South.
The PDP ought to feel the pulse of the nation and sentiments from the South and consider them thoroughly before arriving at its final zoning decision, otherwise, it will bloody its nose at the polls.
If the APC decides to pick its presidential candidate from the South, as feelers indicate it would, the PDP will seriously hurt its chances of winning the polls.
This is especially so when one takes into account the fact that the APC enjoys the incumbency advantage in 23 states of the federation and at the center. This advantage will work for the party whether it picks a northern or southern presidential candidate.
I quite relate with the argument that the PDP wants to cash in on the huge voter strength in the North by picking its presidential candidate from the region, but that decision would most likely boomerang on the party.
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