• North eyes consensus for parties, APC considers open ticket
Intrigues and power play in All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) could have both present presidential candidates from the same geopolitical zone.
Unlike in 1999, when the military ensured the two major parties fielded candidates from the southwest to pacify the region, following the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, the current arrangement is seen as a winning streak. It also aims to avoid polarisation of the electorate between the north and south.
The Southern Governors’ Forum (SGF) had, since last year, passed a resolution that all political parties should restrict their presidential tickets to the zone for “equity and fairness”. Their northern counterparts, however, disagreed and viewed the resolution as a “threat”.
For the Northern Governors’ Forum, each party is allowed liberty to decide where to zone its presidential ticket.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed August 18 as the final date for submission of names of presidential candidates and June 3 as the deadline to complete party primaries.
Investigations by The Guardian revealed that while PDP has been dilly-dallying in zoning its ticket, APC might throw it open.
Some northern forces in the ruling party debunked the widely held belief that APC has zoned the ticket to the south. They insisted what the party agreed on was to swap positions between north and south without prejudice to the ticket. They also dismissed the large number of APC members that have obtained nomination forms from the south.
Those who have declared their ambition in the APC are: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; APC national leader and former Lagos governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State; Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State; former Abia governor and serving senator, Orji Kalu and former Imo governor and senator, Rochas Okorocha.
Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State said he would make his intention known after Ramadan, while Central Bank Governor (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, could also join the race.
Presidential aspirants from the PDP, who have purchased the party’s N40 million nomination forms include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former Senate President Bukola Saraki; Bauch State governor, Bala Mohammed; Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike; former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose; former Managing Director of FSB International Bank, Dr. Mohammed Hayatu-Deen and the Publisher, Ovation International, Chief Dele Momodu.
Notwithstanding the high calibre of politicians from the south that have signified intention to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, there are surreptitious moves by the cabal to retain power in the north.
This is hinged on the argument that the south has spent more years in the presidency than the north, since the return to democracy in 1999.
A source said: “The problem we have, now, is the media, which is setting agenda, and those who believe in what they are writing. There was no time APC zoned its presidential ticket to the south, and I challenge anybody to tell us which organ of the party did it and when and where it held the meeting.
“The country has never been factionalised like this. The north has different problems from what its southern colleagues face. While the north faces serious security challenges and is looking for a competent person that can solve them, the south is discussing developmental issues and power rotation.
“The north is looking for who can solve their challenges, and we believe it is only the person, who wears the shoe that knows where it pinches. We know our political strength and we know how to use it to solve our problem.”
When asked if those thinking in that direction consider the feelings of the south, which would resist retention of power in the north after eight years of the Buhari presidency, the source said: “2023 is not about anybody’s ambition but about the survival of the country.”