The controversy over the zoning of presidency has taken a fresh dimension as the late President Umar Yar’Adua’s kinsmen insist the South should forget about the quest for 2023 presidency under the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party.
A former parliamentarian, who holds the traditional title of Dan’Lawan Katsina, Senator Hamisu Gambo Lawal, among other leaders of the Yar’adua’s political family, said as far the party is concerned, the North would retain the presidency in the coming dispensation.
Lawal’s stance came as his fellow kinsman, who is also the chairman of Katsina State chapter of the PDP, Salisu Yusuf Majigiri, tried to douse the tension arising from the agitation for presidency.
Majigiri told our correspondent that it would be pre-emptive for any PDP chieftain to speak on the issue while the party had mandated the governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed-led committee to find out why the opposition party lost 2019 presidential election and whether the party’s standard bearer in 2023 poll should hail from the North or South.
Rationalising his position, he said, “Bala Mohammed panel was constituted about six or seven months ago. It has been working hard and consulting all critical stakeholders in the country. When the committee submits its report, the issue of zoning in PDP will be addressed. So for any person to say this or that is the party’s position, I think, is totally pre-emptive.”
But speaking to ThisNigeria, Lawal stated, “Muhammadu Buhari presidency is APC government but under PDP, any presidential aspirant can still and should come from the North – North West, North East or North Central – there is no doubt about it.”
Emphasising that the North can’t be denied 2023 presidency, Lawal, who began his political career as Katsina Local Government chairman and later became a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate, declared that the power brokers in PDP were working assiduously to ensure their clamour would not overheat the polity.
“It will never create crisis by the grace of God; it will never because we are seriously working on it. This is the arrangement we have in our party. APC has its own arrangement. You could recall that after Yar’ Adua couldn’t complete his tenure; Goodluck Jonathan took over, did one term and lost to APC. So, somebody is coming from the North under PDP,” he said.
He further stressed that any presidential aspirant from the South should forget about 2023 ticket of the PDP and urged Nigerians to continue to pray for peace, unity and stability of the nation.
The former lawmaker said he could not speak further on the issue because the party’s big wigs may finally decide whether the next presidency should actually be go the North or South despite the PDP’s zoning arrangement.
“But as far as we are concerned, it’s still the turn of the Northern Nigeria. But if the North decides it should go the South, what can we do? We are law abiding people,” he stated.
Don’t retreat, Katsina PDP chief warns Ndigbo
On his part, Majigiri, assured that just as the Senator Ike Ekweremadu-led committee guided the choice of the PDP presidential flag-bearer in 2019 general election, the Bala Mohammed-led committee’s report would shed light on how the party should build its strategies and win in 2023.
The Katsina PDP boss said, “My advice is you know South-East has been PDP consistently and the party gave the zone so many positions. Even in 2019, it was somebody from the South-East that was given the slot of vice presidential candidate unlike APC which gave its ticket to South-West. We had Senate President from there; we had Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) from there besides so many appointments including service chiefs. So, South-East is PDP and PDP is South-East.
“Anybody who is trying to support APC in the South-East, is going to the wrong party. The party is not going to consider South-East in any position because in the past six years, what can you say the South East has so far? Is there any sensitive position that has been given to the South-East in the APC government? If you can look at the issue critically, right from 1999 to date, PDP is South-East and South-East is PDP. And if anybody wishes to join APC from South-East, I think naturally, he is joining a wrong party.”
Majigiri also weighed in on the concerns in some quarters that if the PDP fields a northern presidential candidate in next election, it may earn it a backlash, saying “You know PDP is a united political party. If you could recall, we had 12 presidential aspirants that contested the party’s ticket in 2019 in Port Harcourt and after the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the candidate of PDP and none of the other 11 aspirants left the party. None of the 11; they all participated and contributed their quota for the success of the party.
READ ALSO: Zoning, not in our party’s constitution, says Osun APC chairman
So, even if aspirants are going to emerge from so many geo-political zones of the country, I believe if there is no consensus, by the end of the primary, all the aspirants will support the candidate that emerges as winner as it was done in 2019.
He also spoke on the prospects of PDP in the next general elections thus, “You know, in 2023, we have a better chance than in 2019 because of so many factors that are visible and clearly seen in the country. Governance has failed at all levels. Look at what is happening in the country. So, I think it is time for PDP to get ready, be united and by God’s grace, it will win the elections.”
Appealing to the party faithful to await the Bala Mohammed-led Committee’s report, the PDP stalwart, who stressed that PDP would leave no stone unturned to ensure that justice is done to all noted, “PDP is a well-organised party; it’s a party that has never changed its name, logo or anything in the last 22 years. The party has all its organs –the Board of Trustees (BOT), the National Executive Council (NEC) and the National Working Committee (NWC) and what have you – in place.
“If you could recall, in 2015 when we lost elections including the presidency, the party set up a committee to go and review the general elections and bring its report. That committee was headed by Senator Ekweremadu, then Senate Deputy President, and that committee came out with a report including where to zone the presidency in 2019. We had NEC meeting in which all the NEC members endorsed the proposal of the committee that the presidency should be zoned to the North.
“And we took that report of the NEC to the national convention and the convention endorsed the same that the presidency should go to the North and in the same pattern; a committee has been set up under Governor Bala Mohammed.”
Obasanjo condemns call for Nigeria’s disintegration
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday described calls for the disintegration of Nigeria as unmindful and insensitive to the plight of the minority groups in the country.
Obasanjo made the observation when he received the Tiv Professional Group (TPG) from Benue State, who paid him a courtesy visit in Abeokuta.
The former president recalled a discussion between him and “a military friend” who, according to him, has described major tribes in the country as selfish and not sufficiently caring for the minority groups.
Obasanjo, who aligned with his friend’s opinion, expressed worry over what would become of the minority groups if the major tribes decided to secede and begin to operate as separate countries.
“If the Yoruba can stand as a country if the Igbos and the Hausa/Fulani can stand as separate countries, where do we want the minority groups to be?
“Now, by virtue of the present situation, they are a little bit protected, but if Nigeria breaks up, they will be oppressed and exterminated,” he said.
He recalled the meetings he had with a number of socio-cultural organizations in September 2020 and noted that nobody at such meeting talked about disintegration or breakup, saying that “all they clamored for was a change for good”.
Obasanjo, who expressed hope that the rough times that Nigeria was going through would not last forever, urged Nigerians to be patient while the country gathered her goodwill and moved in the right direction.
The leader of the group, Prof. Zacharys Gundv, in a paper he presented to Obasanjo, highlighted the challenges of the nation, including insecurity, poverty religious intolerance, kidnappings, and banditry, among others.
He explained that the Tivs were worried about the skewed narrative of insecurity in Nigeria
Proffering a solution to Nigeria’s challenges, Gundv called on well-meaning Nigerians to be united in serving the country.
He called for intensified advocacy against nomadic pastoralism and an “All Nationalities Summit” to discuss and proffer solutions to Nigeria’s challenges.
Buhari haunted by his coup plotting past- PDP
What began as a rumour or idle talk – whispers of a putsch – yesterday gathered a life of its own as state actors kept giving life to the notion, which is turning and turning in the widening gyre.
First was the pledge by the military that it would not overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general and head of state whose government has come under strident criticisms over growing insecurity in the country.
In a statement issued by Acting Director, Defence Information, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, the military said it has no intention of taking over power again in Nigeria. This, it said, is because it believes that despite tough times, democracy is the way to go and militarism is no longer fashionable. The army also warned politicians nursing ambition of ruling Nigeria outside the ballot box, saying it would continue to defend the country’s democracy.
“We shall continue to remain apolitical, subordinate to the Civil Authority, firmly loyal to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari and the 1999 Constitution as Amended. We shall continue to discharge our constitutional responsibilities professionally, especially in protecting the country’s democracy, defence of the territorial integrity of the country as well as protection of lives and properties of citizens,” the statement said in part.
This statement was in reaction to agitation by some secessionist and opposition figures for a restructuring of the government, coming two days after the Department of State Services (DSS) also issued same warning.
Immediately after the army’s pledge of loyalty, the Presidency, yesterday, raised the alarm, warning of a subliminal plot by some past leaders working with foreigners to forcefully sack President Buhari from office. However, it did not provide names of the leaders and their cohorts.
The Presidency predicated its conclusion on what it described as ‘unimpeachable’ evidence made available to it by DSS operatives. It, however, warned of dire consequences of such plot, especially where the citizens have opted for democratic rule, saying the only accepted way to change a democratically elected government is through elections.
In a statement issued by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the Presidency said: “The Department of State Services (DSS), on Sunday alerted on sinister moves by misguided elements to wreak havoc on the government, sovereignty and corporate existence of the country.
“Championed by some disgruntled religious and past political leaders, the intention is to eventually throw the country into a tailspin, which would compel a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership.
“Further unimpeachable evidence shows that these disruptive elements are now recruiting the leadership of some ethnic groups and politicians round the country, with the intention of convening some sort of conference, where a vote of no confidence would be passed on the President, thus throwing the land into further turmoil.
“The agent provocateurs hope to achieve through artifice and sleight of hands, what they failed to do through the ballot box in the 2019 elections. Nigerians have opted for democratic rule, and the only accepted way to change a democratically elected government is through elections, which hold at prescribed times in the country. Any other way is patently illegal, and even treasonable. Of course, such would attract the necessary consequences.”
In response to the salvo fired by the Presidency, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the allegation that some Nigerians were plotting a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership, as a resort to blackmail in the face of failure. The PDP, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, asked Buhari to look closely at his past before accusing it of plot to overthrow democratically elected government.
“Perhaps, the Presidency has forgotten that in 1983, Brigadier Muhammadu Buhari, as he was then known, led a military coup to truncate a democratically elected government thereby causing our nation a huge drawback on democratic governance.”
The PDP said rather than live up to the responsibilities of office by taking charge and securing the nation, “the Presidency is busy engaging in frivolous allegations against Nigerians.”
DESCRIBING the alarm as false and signs of a jittery administration pushing the panic button, a civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked Buhari to quit immediately if the “kitchen has become too hot for him.”
Bloomberg removes Bill Gates from billionaire list after divorce
A few hours after announcing his divorce from wife, Melinda, Bloomberg has delisted one of the richest men in the world, Bill Gates, from its billionaire list index.
Gates had, on Monday, announced that he and Melinda who are the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, were splitting after 27 years of marriage.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the duo had shared on Twitter.
“Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable people to lead healthy lives,” they added .
Immediately after making the announcement, Bloomberg, an international media conglomerate that provides financial news and information, research, and financial data, yanked Gates off its top billionaires’ list where he usually sits in the top four spots.
On May 2, 2021, Gates was fourth on the index with a net worth of $145 billion, having gained over $13 billion in 2021 alone.
Gates became the youngest ‘American Billionaire’ in 1987 and has been on the Bloomberg’s list ever since.
He has also been a permanent fixture on the Forbes billionaire index, often making the real-time billionaire list
Gates and Melinda got married in 1994, after he was already named the richest man in America.
The divorce is expected to affect their wealth, but the extent to which this will happen is yet to be known as Forbes is also expected to make its position known in due course.
By Isaac Dachen…
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