In a rare unanimity of purpose, the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Wednesday kicked against calls by political parties to jettison zoning and dwell on competence as a criterion for fielding candidates for the 2023 general election.
Malam Mamman Daura, a nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday told the BBC Hausa Service that there was no need for zoning of presidential tickets to any part of the country.
In specific terms, the president’s nephew said competence should be prioritised over and above any other consideration in the choice of the presidential candidate in 2023.
In the interview, Daura spoke about his relationship with the president and the 2023 presidency, proposing that qualification should be prioritised against the tribe of candidates.
Excerpts of the interview were released on its morning programme Tuesday and monitored by Blueprint.
Mamman Daura said, after trying rotational presidency for three consecutive times, Nigeria needed to consider qualified candidates regardless of the region the candidate comes from in 2023 presidency.
APC rejects call
However, Buhari’s APC said such comment was not the party’s position, but rather his personal opinion.
APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yekini Nabena told our correspondent: “This is not the position of All Progressives Congress but a personal opinion by an individual who happens to be a member of the party.”
“This was a personal opinion of Malam Mamman Daura. It is the position of an individual, who happens to be a member of the party and not the position of the party. The issue of 2023 is yet to be discussed at the party level. We are presently concerned with building a formidable political party that will continue to give leadership to the country and take it to the next level.”
But when asked for the position of the party on zoning come 2023, the APC spokesman said: “The party is pre-occupied now with the business of reconciliation and unity in the party. 2023 is still far off and we are sure that when we get to the river, we shall surely know how to cross it.”
Similarly, the PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr Diran Odeyemi, said Daura’s opinion or call was not binding on the party.
“It is his personal opinion and it is not binding on the PDP as a party. The PDP is an organised party which appreciates zoning.
“So, at the appropriate time, we shall come up with our zoning formula which will define where the national chairman will come from and where our presidential candidate will come from,” he said.
Ohanaeze slams Daura
The row was taken a notch higher with the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, condemning Daura’s call.
The group said it’s the turn of the South, particularly the South-east, to produce the president in 2023.
It warned that equity should not be sacrificed on the altar of parochialism since it was the rotation sentiment that produced the present incumbent.
In a statement by Emeka Attamah, media aide to the president-general of Ohanaeze, Nnia Nwodo, the group said Daura’s statement was self-serving.
He accused the president’s nephew of being part of the plot to deny the South, and in particular the South-east, the Presidency.
“He should have said this before the 2019 elections. They ganged up to push President Jonathan aside because they believed it was the turn of the North to produce the president.
“Having benefited enormously from his nephew being the President, he now wants it jettisoned because it is the turn of the South,” the group said.
On the issue of competence, Atamah said: “Talking about competence or most qualified, was President Buhari the most qualified Nigerian when he ascended the Presidency? Has he proved to be the most competent? Are the service chiefs the most competent among their colleagues to warrant their being retained beyond their tenure?
“Now that it is the turn of the South, precisely South-east, he is mouthing the most qualified and competent. Equity is a constant flagship for peace and good governance. Without it, there will be continued agitation and crisis.
“At his age, Mamman Daura should stand for equity and fairness. Moreover, his stand goes against the grain of the nation’s constitution which enshrines equality for all peoples and sections of the country.”
In a similar reaction, the Afenifere group rejected Daura’s position, saying the country must continue with the common understanding of power rotation between the North and the South.
The spokesman of the group, Joe Odumakin, who made the group’s position known, said the South was not unmindful of the fact that the North would want to have a shot again in the presidency after Buhari.
“They (Northern candidates) would definitely come out, but it is now left for the country to say whether they want to accept the move or they should insist on the common understanding that power should rotate between north and south.
“I heard him (Mamman Daura) talking about competence or whatever. In 2023, he would understand if there is anything called competence. We are watching how things unfold,” he said.