By Chibuzo Ukaibe Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 2019 review committee yesterday recommended that the presidential ticket of the party should be thrown open to all regions instead of resorting to zoning arrangement.
The panel noted that even though the arguments that the North East and South East geopolitical zones should be given special consideration abound, every Nigerian should be given the opportunity to seek the party’s ticket ahead of 2023.
Chairman of the 14-member committee and governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, disclosed this yesterday while presenting the panel’s report to the party national leadership at the PDP national secretariat.
The committee was assigned to review why the party lost in the 2019 polls and recommend solutions on how the party would return to power in 2023.
The recommendations of the committee are subject to approval by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
The PDP had in the build up to the 2019 general election zoned its presidential ticket to the North, and on this basis former Vice President Atiku Abubakar emerged the party’s presidential candidate after defeating 11 other northern candidates.
But in its report obtained by LEADERSHIP yesterday, the PDP committee recommended that instead of relying on zoning, the party should go for a presidential candidate with respectable track records.
On how the party ticket should be contested for in 2023, the panel said, “Due to the prevailing situation in Nigeria, where there is lack of trust amongst the different ethnic nationalities, wide spread insecurity, increasing division in the country along religious lines, tribalism/ethnicity to mention but a few, the party must consider nominating a presidential candidate with respectable track records.
“Such a candidate should be a detribalised person, must have requisite competence in governance and good understanding of economic matters. In its search for such a candidate, the party must also consider demography, equitable representation and fairness, competitiveness and integrity in zoning the position for the 2023 election. In this respect, going by the recent history of Nigeria during the last 30-40 years, only the North East and South East regions have not been given the opportunity to serve in the capacity of President of the Federal Republic.”
On why the party lost in 2019, the committee cited party fatigue and complacency, lack of internal democracy, regionalization of voting power, and protest over abandonment of zoning as reasons for the loss.
It also listed fallouts from the Port Harcourt convention, lukewarm commitment by some governors, anti-party activities by members, internal squabbles, incumbent’s weakness, failure to leverage on APC shortcomings as other reasons why the party performed poorly.
On indifference demonstrated by governors, the report stated that “the suspicion that some governors on the platform of the party either deliberately sabotaged the fortunes of the party remain a matter for deep interest, for the foreseeable future.
“However obviously the electoral fortunes of these governors that ensured their reelection contrasted sharply with the votes cast for the party’s presidential candidate who, himself towered head and shoulder above the candidate of APC.”
Citing other reasons for the party’s poor outing in 2019, the report noted: “Some leaders collected materials/logistics for elections but went back home. Some even used their premises for the opposition.
“Some party agents compromised and allowed the opposition a field day to cart away ballot papers, boxes and or write results in favour of the opposition.
“Some of the party’s defeated presidential aspirants sabotaged the campaign strategy”.
Speaking during the submission of the report, the committee chairman, Governor Mohammed, said, “In line with certain unwritten conventions of the nation’s history, many people think that, for fairness and equity, the North East and South East geo-political zones that have had the shortest stints at the Presidency, should be given special consideration, in choosing the presidential flagbearer of the party, for the 2023 elections.
“While we admit that this is a strong argument, we should not lose sight of the fact that Nigeria is endowed with many capable and very experienced leaders in every part of the country. Moreover, the exigencies of the moment demand that nothing should be compromised in choosing the leader, with the attributes to disentangle the country from the present quagmire.
“Therefore, we think that every Nigerian, from every part of the country, should be given the opportunity to choose the best candidate, through a credible primary election; as a way of institutionalising a merit-based leadership recruitment process, for the country.”
The committee further recommended that the party should actively encourage the current reform by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make it truly independent and to be able to conduct elections devoid of the coercive apparatus of the state, underhand manipulations and outright intimidation of voters.
Mohammed said the military should be insulated from the conduct of elections as their presence breeds intimidation and questions the integrity of the process.
“Above all, it denies some of the candidates the level playing field that is the singular barometer for ascertaining the wishes of the people. Similarly, the Police should be made to be more impartial in the supervision of elections,” he said.
The panel also pushed for a review and endorsement of the 2014 Constitutional Conference Report or for a new constitutional conference to be organised.
It added that the present constitutional arrangement is grossly inadequate to contend with changing democratic and demographic challenges.
“The endemic frictions in inter-governmental relations, especially between the states and the federal government, suggest that the present constitutional arrangement is grossly inadequate to contend with changing democratic and demographic challenges.
Our party must therefore push for either a review and endorsement of the 2014 Constitutional Conference Report or for a new constitutional conference to be organised. In short, the party should advocate for genuine restructuring that fosters decentralisation, engenders national unity, guarantees security of lives and properties of all Nigerians no matter where they reside in the country and which promotes economic prosperity and the overall well-being of all our people,” Mohammed said.
In his speech, national chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said the Bala Mohammed Committee’s report will form the bedrock of the party’s plan ahead of 2023 general elections.
His words: “I have no doubt in my mind that your report will form the bedrock of our party’s plan ahead of the 2023 general elections. The National Working Committee (NWC) is going to study and analyze your report meticulously and come up with a position that will be beneficial to the party.
“The PDP is putting no stone unturned to ensure it regains federal power and this report is going to be the takeoff point and keystone to our subsequent actions ahead of 2023.”
Secondus added that the party leadership will work with think tanks, consultants and all critical party stakeholders to enhance the new PDP narratives that will help address the yawning absence of leadership in the country.
“We will continue to build the party along the line of the recommendations with a view to cultivating a wide support base with utmost urgency towards 2023,” he said.
He further urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to embark on electoral reform.
“We urge President Muhammadu Buhari and his APC administration to embark on immediate electoral reform that will ensure free, fair and transparent elections in the country and put Nigeria in parity with other developed democracies in the world.
“Having failed roundly in the delivery of any dividend to Nigerian people, and having brought the country to a status of a failed nation with an unprecedented collapse of all structures, APC knows as a fact that Nigerians would not want to do anything with them again.
“As a result, they are putting all studs on the way to conducting credible elections. But we need to warn that the only thing keeping this country alive today is the fact that APC will be history by 2023. They are aware of this reality and they are trying to use their usual propaganda to create a different image of themselves, but Nigeria knows better and cannot be fooled again,” he said.
Reacting to the report, former deputy governor of Sokoto State, Murktar Shehu Shagari said the decision of the party to throw the ticket open to all aspirants reflects democracy in action.
Shagari said “I honestly believe that merit, integrity and competence should be the criteria for being elected president rather than where the candidate comes from” he said.
APC Committee Wants Women, Youths Participation Spelt Out In Own Constitution
In a bid to attract more women and youths to the All Progressives
Congress (APC), the party’s youths, women, PLWDS mobilization committee has charged the party’s constitutional review committee to come forth with enabling provisions that would be favourable and inclusive of Nigerian youths and women.
Chairman of the committee and Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, stated this yesterday at the opening of the APC constitutional review town hall meeting for the North Central zone in Lokoja.
Governor Bello stressed that recent events and demographic spreads indicate that the youths were ready to speak up and take up the mantle of leadership to participate directly in nation-building.
He also noted that with nearly 80% per cent of eligible and registered voters between the ages of 18 – 50 years, it is now clear that the youth have possessed a huge electoral advantage if their numbers are plausibly leveraged.
He noted that the timely exercise and current amendment would take the party to greater heights than it was hence the need for diligence as the constitution remained a grand norm of any democratic society.
The governor said the APC must ensure that its constitution was a living and evolving organism, adding that as the current custodian of the Nigeria constitution, the party would be able to assure Nigerians of a new constitution that reflects the true yearnings and aspirations of all.
He recalled that since it was formed in 2013, the APC had conducted constitutional review only once in 2014, noting that although the constitution has helped the party to several victories it was not without pockets of loopholes that have triggered real and perceived grievances within the party structure.
Governor Bello pointed out that, in a rapidly changing world, it was only natural for laws to be reviewed at regular intervals to catch up with novel exigencies while they remain a catalyst to societal development.
In his opening remark, chairman of the constitution review committee, Prof. Tahir Mamman (SAN), thanked the state governor for the reception given to the committee members which has helped in ensuring that their assignment was made easy.
He noted that the pace at which their work needed to be delivered necessitated that the meeting was held at geo-political zones to ensure that the grassroots was effectively reached and their opinions harnessed as inputs into the new party constitution.
Mamman stressed that the APC was deeply rooted in the grassroots as its successes in time past have been largely influenced by people at the grassroots and since its first constitution did not put their inputs into consideration, it was imperative that the subsequent one effectively carry them along.