The South West Zone of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to give more key positions to the zone when he becomes president.
PDP vice chairman, South West, Dr Eddy Olefeso, who made the demand in Lagos yesterday at a meeting of key members across the six states in the zone, said the region wanted the positions of chief of staff to the president as well as attorney-general of the federation (AGF), in addition to the post of secretary to the government od the federation (SGF) which Atiku had earlier ceded to the zone in a power sharing arrangement. Olafeso said though the promise of the position SGF by Atiku was a good development, the zone deserved more key political and government positions to compensate for the past when the zone was schemed out in the power arrangement of the party. According to him, for Atiku to give the zone a sense of belonging and compensate “for the years of abandonment”, he should zone key positions of the chief of staff to the president and AGF to the South West in addition to the SGF slot. He noted that the South West had the second highest voting population in the country and, therefore, deserved its fair share of political positions if PDP wins in 2019. Olafeso said: “We have been denied for too long. In 2011, the country under the control of our party zoned the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the zone and it was taken away. And from 2011 to 2015, we were left just like that and the reverberating effect of that abandonment is the reason why we are still having the hangover of neglect till today.
“Now we are here again, the party is working with a zone with 14 million votes, the second largest in the country. We refuse and we will not accept where we finish the job in the next election and for one reason or the other, we will not be considered.
“We don’t have to wait till after the election before we say what we want. We want to let the party and our candidate know that certain positions are strategic to governance and we want them. “Yes, the SGF is great, but there is nothing wrong with having the chief of staff and attorney-general on top of it to compensate us for the denials of the past, so that all of us can work as a united front. “We will continue to fight for it, we will speak with a loud voice. We give so much, so the zone deserves a lot.” While congratulating Atiku on his emergence as the presidential candidate, Olafeso said the zone was pleased with the choice of Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, as his running mate. He said the country was faced with serious economic challenges and Obi had the pedigree to realise the party’s economic vision for Nigeria. The meeting, which lasted hours, had in attendance a former deputy national chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George; the current deputy national chairman (South), Chief Yemi Akinwonmi, and a former national vice chairman of the party, Alhaji Tajudeen Oladipo. Also present were a former minister of state for defence, Mrs Sola Obada; a former deputy governor of Ogun State, Alhaja Makanjuola Badru, and a member of the National Assembly, Sen. Abiodun Olujimi. The party’s governorship candidate in Oyo State, Mr Seyi Makinde; the governorship candidate in Ogun, Mr Ladi Adebutu, and a former governorship aspirant in Osun State, Chief Akin Ogunbiyi, were also at the meeting, among others. LEADERSHIP Sunday recalls that the Pan Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, had earlier this month hinted at supporting Atiku’s presidential bid, saying the region would vote for the candidate that would restructure the country -a major campaign promise of Atiku. Spokesman of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin said: “The most important thing for us is the restructuring of Nigeria. Clearly, you can know Afenifere will always stand with the candidate that stands for Nigeria to be restructured. This is because without restructuring, we are going nowhere.”
Disquiet in South East Over Fashola’s Statement on 2023
The apex socio-cultural body of the Igbo nation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday said it would respond at the appropriate time to the comments by the minister of works, power and housing, Babatunde Fashola, that the presidency would return to the South West in 2023. LEADERSHIP Sunday recalls that Fashola had on Thursday, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, urged the people of the South West geopolitical zone to vote for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 elections, saying that the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari will allow the South West to regain the presidency after his tenure in 2023.
Notwithstanding that the region produced the first president during this democratic dispensation when President Olusegun Obasanjo emerged president in 1999 and the South East, which had not tasted the top political seat in the country, believe it is their turn in 2023, Fashola told The people of the South West region that Buhari’s second term in office will automatically guarantee the return of power to the region in 2023. The minister, who spoke in Yoruba language, had said: “Did you know that power is rotating to the South West after the completion of Buhari’s tenure if you vote for him in 2019? “Your child cannot surrender her waist for an edifying bead and you will use the bead to decorate another child’s waist. A vote for Buhari in 2019 means a return of power to the South West in 2023. I am sure you will vote wisely.” However, this comment has elicited reactions from the South East apex body and other personalities. The spokesman of Ohanaeze, Emeka Attama, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that the apex Igbo body would at the appropriate time meet and consult over the issue and other issues affecting Ndigbo in general.
Attama who explained that Ohanaeze had always tried to distance itself from discussing politics, said Ohanaeze would make its opinion known on the matter at the right time. “We don’t express our views on such matter because if we have to say anything, we have to be sure that it is the collective views of Ndi Igbo, and that view cannot be taken unless the Ime Obi of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo takes a decision, that is the highest decision making organ of Ndi Igbo,” Attama said. Also speaking to LEADERSHIP Sunday, the national vice chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for South East, Deacon Austin Umahi, declared that Fashola’s statement should serve as an eye opener for Igbo people who are supporting the All Progressives Congress (APC). Umahi said, “That’s an eye opener to our so-called brothers and sisters who are in the failed APC for their selfish interest and leaking pockets. “Most importantly, it is glaring that APC is drowning in all ramifications and Nigerians have rejected them and will demonstrate it in less than 110 days.
“A rebranded and repositioned PDP not only has Nigeria’s collective interest at heart, but South East in particular. I am convinced that as a party built on fairness and equity, South East surely stands a better chance to take her equity share in the Nigerian Project come 2023, God willing.” Also reacting to the statement, the APC chairman in Abia State, Dr. Emmanuel Ndukwe, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that Fashola spoke like the politician who was trying to get support for both the president and the party from his people. He argued that the decision of who will succeed the president would depend solely on the support Buhari and the party receive from both the South East and the South West in the election. According to him, the statement should on the other hand serve as a clarion call to the South East to come out en masse to vote for the party to make themselves a force to be reckoned with in the politics of the party. Ndukwe, whose leadership has the backing of a court, said, “The timing of the statement was very apt because if our people think the party will offer them its ticket for the 2023 election without working for it, they are totally wrong.”He warned the people against supporting the Peoples Democratic Party, adding that if they do so, it would take a minimum of eight years for such opportunity as APC will offer them to come their way again.
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