Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), South East zone, yesterday, rejected the rumoured zoning of the presidential ticket to the North in 2023.
National Vice Chairman, South East, Chief Austine Umahi, in a statement in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, said the decision on zoning of the presidential ticket has not been discussed by the leadership of the party.
Umahi was reacting to a recent statement by former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, that the PDP had zoned its 2023 presidential ticket to the North.
He said the former Benue governor “passed personal wishes” as the collective decision of the party, and urged the National Working Committee(NWC) of the party to quickly address Suswam’s coment for the interest of peace and unity of the party.
Umahi said no zone should be neglected or underrated in the decision-making process of the party, especially the South East, which he said had made tremendous sacrifices for the growth, wellbeing and survival of the PDP.
“As a member of the NWC of our great party, I am shocked and embarrassed at this disclosure, as the NWC had never discussed nor taken any such decision. As a political party, positions are only zoned in the PDP after they have been robustly debated by all six zones and unanimously agreed on as serving the best interest of the unity of the party and national exigencies. As such, the NWC of our party cannot allow Senator Suswam to pass across personal wishes as collective resolve, except if it is a case of the bird dancing by the road with the drummer lurking in the nearby bush. The statement amounts to one being a judge in his case, which offends all known laws of natural justice.”
Also, a leading pan-Igbo organisation, Igbo Leadership Development Foundation (ILDF), lambasted Suswam for saying the PDP would zone the office to the North in 2023, advising him not to insult Igbo sensibilities.
The group accused the former Benue governor of “uncanny and overly ambitious interests” and of “flying a dangerous kite that would finally sink the PDP.”
Suswam, in an exclusive interview on Sunday, held that since the PDP failed to win the 2019 presidential election, which it zoned to the North, the party would still retain the ticket in the region since it did not win.
A statement by director of public affairs for ILDF, Dr. Law Mefor, in Abuja, yesterday, queried the rationale behind Suswam’s claim that the PDP was bound to zone the President to the North in 2023.
The group said such utterances and scheming go a long way in confirming the lack of commitment to a single term for the party’s candidate in 2019 in order for a South East candidate to be fielded in 2023.
“The fact that the Senator Ike Ekweremadu-led PDP post-election review panel, in its wisdom, zoned the 2019 presidential ticket to the North to assuage the region’s feelings over the earlier breach of the zoning formula and to ensure that a fellow northerner squared up with President Muhammadu Buhari does not in any way mean that the ticket is now resident in the North. Feigning ignorance of the fact that the dynamics that informed the 2019 zoning have absolutely changed because the North has had two straight terms under President Buhari is most unfortunate.
“It is saddening that Suswam and his drummers ignored the monumental contributions of the South East to the fortunes of the PDP since its inception by sticking with the party through thick and thin. The region has not only contributed immensely to the party’s presidential victories in four straight presidential elections, but was also the bastion of the opposition and rebuilding of the party since 2015.”
Mefor faulted Suswam’s idea of power rotation and warned the lawmaker and the PDP against taking the support of the South East and the South generally for granted.