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Zoning: PANDEF, Ohanaeze kick, accuse PDP of treachery

By Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt), Lawrence Njoku (Enugu), Nnamdi Akpa (Abakaliki), John Akubo and Ernest Nzor (Abuja)
13 May 2022   |   4:14 am
Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has criticised decision of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to throw open contest for the party’s 2023 presidential ticket.

A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Bode George (left); former Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido; Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Hon Ndudi Elumelu; Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom; former Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahin Shehu Shema and Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku during the PDP screening committee meeting, at the Benue State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja… recently. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

• Clark, others betrayed South East first, says Orji Kalu
• Why Igbo can’t be trusted with presidency, by Northern Coalition

Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has criticised decision of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to throw open contest for the party’s 2023 presidential ticket.

At statement by National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Mr. Ken Robinson, in Port Harcourt, yesterday, said the move shows PDP has dug its own grave.

PANDEF said: “Sadly, this is a party whose constitution unequivocally commits to the policy of rotation and zoning of party and public elective offices in pursuance of principles of equity, justice and fairness.

“The opinion that PDP is not obligated to zone its presidential ticket for the 2023 election is preposterous and illogical, likewise, the implied consideration that it’s only a northern candidate that can secure victory for the party in the 2023 presidential election.”

It added: “Do we need to remind PDP that former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan are not northerners, who both won presidential elections for the PDP in 1999, 2003, and 2011 respectively?

“It bears stating that the presidency is not the presidency of a party; it is the presidency of Nigeria. The fact that President Muhammadu Buhari is of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is extraneous.”

PANDEF, therefore, urged APC to take advantage of what it described as the awful indiscretion of PDP to consolidate itself as a truly nationalistic party.

ALSO, Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo described PDP’s action as the height of deception and treachery, after milking Igbo votes for 22 years.

It said PDP bluntly abolished zoning to prove Igbo are unqualified to fly its ticket in the presidential elections.

It said the consequence of the backstabbing would be a catastrophic failure of the party in elections in the zone.

Insisting Igbo will not accept vice presidency, the organisation said without Igbo aspirants as presidential flag bearers in APC and PDP, there would be total boycott of the elections.

Ohanaeze added: “With respect to the resolution by the PDP, the position of the Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum, the Southern Governors Forum and indeed all right thinking and patriotic Nigerians is very clear – a Northerner must not hand over to a Northerner.

“PDP has a choice to make; nominate a Northerner and fail woefully and be buried with an epitaph – ‘There once existed a treacherous political party which changed its goal post at the middle of the game’.”

HUMAN Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) also slammed PDP in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, describing the party as a “huge scam”.

It said: “Throwing the contest open has confirmed that PDP has scammed the South East, even after the zone has suffered marginalisation and exclusion from the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari.”

THIS was as Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) said Igbo should not be trusted with presidential power.”

CNG’s spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja, yesterday, saying the group would take every political and legal measure to frustrate and resist an Igbo presidency in 2023 or anytime in the future.

He also warned northern politicians against picking any Igbo man as running mate.

He said: “The Igbo, as a people, have by their serial atrocious actions inadvertently foreclosed every hope for the rest of us to continue coexisting with them as one nation.

“We are mobilising the North against supporting, participating, in or, in anyway romancing with any political party that fields a candidate from the South East or has any Igbo politician in position of prominence.”

MEANWHILE, former Abia State governor, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, yesterday, replied Chief Edwin Clark over the latter’s outburst where he described him as a traitor for chickening out of the presidential race and declaring support for Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

The elder statesman and former Federal Information Commissioner, Chief Edwin Clark, had taken Kalu to the cleaners, describing him as a “traitor”.

In a swift reaction, Kalu who is the Chief Whip of the Senate said it was the likes of Clark and others who betrayed the South East, adding that they are only being wiser now.

In a statement he personally signed, Kalu said: “I have great respect for Chief Edwin Clark. He is an elder statesman and a patriotic Nigerian. I want to sincerely commend him for openly supporting the South East geopolitical zone to produce the next president of Nigeria.

“It is imperative I remind him that I didn’t betray my people, rather I am doing my best to reintegrate them into mainstream politics.

“In the last two years, I have been at the forefront agitating for a Nigerian president of South East extraction, when most of them were all saying ‘Southern Presidency’. None of these actors openly said the South East geopolitical zone should have it.

“I was shocked that even the zone the entire South East supported in unity, including myself in 2011 and 2015, respectively, has the highest number of contestants, without thinking of their brothers, knowing fully well that the South East has remained the only zone in Southern Nigeria that has not produced the nation’s president since the rotation convention dispensation that began in 1999.”