•As party slates Bala Committee Report for debate
•Atiku kicks against zoning, wants fairness, equity
By Dirisu Yakubu
The 94th National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has ratified the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi Committee’s recommendation on zoning of party offices.
It would be recalled that last week, the committee recommended the swapping of National Working Committee offices between the North and South, ahead of the October 31 national elective convention.
The party, however, remained coy on the 2023 Presidential ticket as party leaders resolved to debate the Bala Mohammed-led committee on the review of the performance of PDP in the 2019 Presidential election.
The Bala Mohammed Committee had recommended that the Presidential race be thrown open to PDP members regardless of their geo-political zones.
Briefing newsmen at the end of the meeting, national publicity secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan said: “The party agreed to have a look at the Bala Mohammed Committee report again and a NEC meeting will be convened for that purpose.”
Meanwhile, former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, has urged the party to be guided by the spirit of fairness and equity in determining its Presidential candidate in 2023, rather than zoning the ticket along ethnic considerations.
Atiku, who stated this at the 94th National Executive Committee, NEC meeting, said all Nigerians wanted was a President who will stand for the South and North of the Nigerian divide.
“Where the President comes from has never been the problem of Nigeria. It will not be the solution to the problems of Nigeria. There is no such thing as a President from Southern Nigeria or a President from Northern Nigeria. There is only one President, a President of Nigeria, for Nigeria and by Nigerians.
“The Peoples Democratic Party has the right to determine its rules on how the party should be governed. The people of Nigeria also have the right to determine who governs them,” he said.
Atiku also called on party leaders to give greater thought to youths and women’s inclusion in PDP new leadership due to emerge at the end of this month.
“Talking about inclusions, I would like to see a new National Working Committee of our great party that has sizable numbers of our youths and women. The decision of NEC today will either see PDP move into the villa in 2023 or not.
“Since inception, this party has faced serious challenges, and have risen above sentiments to solve those challenges and move forward,” he added.
That said, Atiku took a trip down memory lane to recall the events that shaped the nation’s politics in 1999 following the return of democracy.
“Let me come to historical events, which I said I was going to cite. Those of us who served in the constitutional conference, which drafted the current constitution of Nigeria should remember that after we finished drafting the constitution, we all met as members of the constitutional conference and resolved to correct the injustice that was done to a particular part of this country.
“We said whichever party you found yourself, your Presidential candidate must come from the South-West, because (MKO) Abiola had won election but it was annulled. Not only was it annulled, he was killed.
“So, we all agreed as members, and we went out of the constitutional conference and we formed our parties- Peoples Democratic Party, All Peoples Party, APP and Alliance for Democracy, AD.
“At the end of the day, two parties emerged. PDP picked General Obasanjo and AD picked Olu Falae. All these showed,” he said.
Atiku whose remarks were punctuated by frequent applause, paused and called on former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana, to affirm his remarks. Gana was elusive as he simply responded, “more or less,” allowing Atiku to continue.
According to Atiku, “in 2003, all the PDP governors met at the villa and said they were not going to support President Obasanjo for a second term, that I should you run. I now referred them to the resolution of NEC, where NEC decided that power should remain in the South-West for eight years. How do you now want me to go against the resolution of NEC?”
“I turned it down and we moved on. So, this country has a sense of fairness. This country has a sense of justice. Therefore, this thing that is inbuilt in our party, we should be able to use it, to imbibe it to make sure today’s deliberations are in the best interest of our party, in the best interest of Nigeria, which will ultimately give us the victory that we asked for, to go back to the villa,” he added
Speaking for the PDP National Assembly caucus, House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu took the federal government to the cleaners, saying “as we speak, innocent and defenseless Nigerians are being killed on daily basis by terrorists and bandits. Our citizens can no longer move freely across their country. The current cold blood killings in the South-East and other parts of the nation further underscores the dire situation we face under the All Progressives Congress, APC.”
He continued: “Today, our economy is in shambles; there is anger, frustration and hopelessness everywhere. Most Nigerian families can no longer afford their daily meals and other basic necessities of life. They go to bed on empty stomachs and wake up with no hope of breakfast or even lunch.
“Our productive sectors have been wrecked by the APC. Millions of our brilliant and inventive youths have been denied opportunities to engage their creative minds in fruitful ventures. When they speak out, they are branded, hounded and even killed. Their only hope of survival is to have the PDP back in power.
“It is even more distressing that the President Buhari-led APC administration has continued in false claims and empty promises as witnessed in Mr. President’s address at the 76th United Nation General Assembly, where, contrary to the ugly reality on the ground, he claimed that his administration had weakened insurgents, built isolation centers and emergency hospital wards, all over the country in the fight against COVID-19, and had been steadfast in safeguarding human rights in Nigeria.
“Mr. President also ridiculously asked for debt forgiveness on one hand while on the other hand, he is busy seeking for more loans thereby making mockery of our nation as an unserious country led by a clueless government
“As representatives of the people, our caucus took the President to task on his speech, in which he failed to present the ugly reality of the failures of his administration to the world body.
“Earlier today, Mr. President presented an uninspiring N16 trillion 2022 budget that bears no solutions to the challenges facing the nation under his watch. Our caucus assures that we will do all it takes to lobby for the redirection of the budget for the benefit of Nigerians.
“Our compatriots have suffered the unbearable under the hard-hearted APC-led government and they cry out to the PDP for solution. They are ready to march with us all the way to the end, and we must not let them down.
“As you may be aware, the APC, as a political party, is since burnt out and dead. What is left is a deflated, disorganized and decrepit contraption of political scavengers that have no iota of interest in the wellbeing of our nation.
“Against this backdrop, we must go into this national convention with undiluted patriotism and spirit of sportsmanship. We must be ready, as true democrats, to make sacrifices and adjustments, so as to elect credible leaders that will lead our party to victory in 2023.
Earlier in his opening remarks, PDP acting national chairman, Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, called on party members to close ranks in a bid to reclaim Aso Rock in 2023
The meeting was attended by Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa), Godwin Obaseki (Edo) and Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state.
Others were Governors Samuel Ortom, Duoye Diri, Ifeanyi Okowa and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Benue, Bayelsa, Delta and Enugu states respectively.
Also in attendance were former Senate Presidents-Iyorchia Ayu, Adolphus Wabara, Pius Anyim, David Mark and Bukola Saraki; chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Senator Walid Jibrin, former governors and ex-Ministers among others.
Vanguard News Nigeria
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