The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF), has cautioned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against jettisoning the zoning arrangement of the party’s 2023 presidential ticket.
The forum therefore called on the National Executive Committee of the party to out-rightly reject the recommendation of the Governor Samuel Ortom-led zoning committee of the party.
SMBLF, in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, expressed dismay at the recommendation of the Ortom-led committee, which threw the presidential ticket open to all the zones.
The statement was signed by National Leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark; President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Professor George Obiozor; Afenifere Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and National President of Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr Pogu Bitrus.
It reads in part: “The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum is dismayed by the purported recommendation of the 37-Member PDP Zoning Committee to throw the party’s 2023 presidential ticket open to all parts of the country and the justifications afterwards.
“The said conclusion of the Governor Ortom-led Zoning Committee is not only abhorrent, unfair and unacceptable, but it is also a purveyor of discord. Accordingly, SMBLF urges the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the People’s Democratic Party to outrightly reject the recommendation.
“SMBLF cautions the PDP not to violate its principle of zoning and rotation of power between the North and the South.
“Furthermore, SMBLF observes that opinions being advanced against zoning are frivolous and absurd. And that the suggestion that the 37-Member PDP Zoning Committee which had its membership drawn from the 36 States and the FCT, had a consensus on its reported submission of an “open presidential primary” is neither here nor there.
“SMBLF insists that all major political parties including the PDP and APC must be fair to the South by zoning their Presidential tickets to the South in the national interest.
“The notion that an open presidential primary election, which is not zoned would afford the 36 states to vote so that only the best and most competent person will emerge as the flag bearer of the party, is buncombe.
“It is not correct, because even where zoning is done, it is not only the people who come from the area where it is zoned that will vote. In the 2018 presidential primaries of the PDP, and at other times, for any serious party, every delegate of the party voted. So whether it is zoned or not zoned, the same party delegates from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory will be available to vote.
“This is exactly what happened in 2018 Portharcourt, were Atiku Abubakar defeated about 12 Presidential Aspirants from the North, with the votes of delegates of the 36 states and the FCT, Abuja, which he won with about 1500 votes. We repeat, he was not only voted for by Northern delegates.
“Who is Fooling who? Or who is deceiving who? Zoning simply promotes fairness and equity and gives a feeling of belonging to all sections of the country. Does anyone need to be apprised of the “man-made” compositional disparities in Nigeria?
“More so, Southern Nigeria is not in want of competent, intelligent and sagacious men and women, who are more than capable to lead and navigate Nigeria out of the present quagmire; restoring its dignity and glory, and elevating the country to even greater acmes, in all sectors, for the good of all Nigerians.”