Who will pick the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC, now that the party is reported to have zoned the seat to the southern part of the country?
Before now, there have been speculations about which section of the country will most likely produce the president. The two leading political parties, the APC and the PDP have been playing a waiting game on the matter.
But signals came last week that the APC may have finally decided to zone its ticket to the south. This includes the south-west, south south and the south east. Of the three, it is only the south east that is yet to produce a president since 1999.
Chairman of the APC APC Registration and Revalidation Panel for Akwa Ibom State, Senator Abubakar Geiri was quoted as saying that the office of the president for 2023 general election has been zoned to the South
The senator who disclosed this during the kick off of the registration and revalidation exercise in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State also said President Muhammadu Buhari and the tational chairman of the party were aware of the plan to return The Presidency to the south.
The senator who was represented by the secretary of the panel, Mr Sheriff Banki said he was duly permitted by the APC leadership to inform the people about the decision to zone the Presidency to the South
” In 2023, The Presidency is coming back to the South, Iam not saying this by myself. I have the authority of Mr President, I have the authority of the national chairman of the party to tell you that the presidency is coming back to the south. So with this, the ball is now in your court”
Even before this announcement, there have been speculations that Buhari and some northern governors were considering giving the ticket to the immediate past president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, apparently to compensate him for willingly handing over power to Buhari in 2015, without a contest.
Jonathan is still in the PDP though. He has also said openly that he was still a member of the PDP. But there are growing speculations that the APC might be looking at his direction.
Some chieftains of the party said an arrangement was being worked out to ensure that Jonathan got the APC ticket. It was not immediately clear how and when that will happen.
But the decision to zone the ticket to the south appears to give credence to the speculations. The argument has been that if Jonathan became the next president, he would only do four years in office so that the north could take back power in 2027.
Apart from Jonathan, there are other prominent stakeholders from the south who are believed to be aspiring for the office. Among them are the APC leader, Bola Tinubu, the vice president, Prof Yemi Osibanjo, the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu and the minister of state for petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva.
Kalu’s supporters are already drumming support for him publicly. An entrepreneurship event for youths in Anambra State where Kalu was to deliver a keynote address during the weekend was turned to a campaign rally of some sort.
Supporters of the senator took over the event as they called on him to contest the 2023 presidential election.
The entrepreneurship programme tagged “Access More With Stanel” was organized by Anambra born business mogul Dr. Stanley Uzochukwu in collaboration with Access Bank, Anambra state government, Airopay, Bon Hotel and other top-rated business entities.
One of the organizers at the event was quoted as saying that “we are here today to welcome one of our own, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu to Anambra State. The youths you see gathered today had prayed for a time like this, an opportunity to tell Dr Orji Kalu our view on the Presidency in 2023.
“We want him to run for the presidency in 2023 for it’s our right, going by the rotation seen so far since 1999. We’re happy he’s here today, you can see that from the crowd here to welcome him”.
Speaking further on the agitation and unrest by some Southeast indigenes to secede, Mr Okezie said those motives were driven by the way the region had been marginalized.
He said “2023 is another time for Nigerians to prove we are a one united nation, 2023 will either change the thinking of an average Igbo man to if we’re united in one purpose or not. We’re ready to support our own, we are ready to even change the economy of the nation. We have the skills naturally and we have the people that are with the capacity to make Nigeria a great nation. Dr Orji Uzor Kalu is one of those persons from this region that we know and believe can take on this task. We have our rally around him”.
Apart from Kalu, Amaechi is also believed to be working extra hard to clinch the ticket. Before now, it was believed that the minister was getting ready to run with the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, as his vice. But with the latest development, it is not clear if El-Rufai will be running with Amaechi as vice.
For Sylva, it is believed that the north is comfortable with him as Buhari’s successor. Sources said Sylva already has a strong and growing relationship with Buhari and has been able to endear himself to the northern leaders who now think he would be a better option for the office.
In separate online interviews, some chieftains from Bayelsa have reacted to the development. A former commissioner in the state, Solomon Appreala said “politics is a game of interest. Where your interest lies, and where you feel will benefit your people more is where you tilt to. Former President Jonathan, in my own opinion has a better chance.
“He has only one term of four years to serve and thereafter, the Presidency is most likely going to the North. For this reason, the North will be glad to support him for the position. For us in the South, particularly the South-South, we will be glad also to have our own occupy that position again.”
But another former commissioner from the state, Mr Furoebi Akene said “Jonathan is not publicly known to have defected from PDP to APC so I reserve my comment on that.
“Nigeria need peace and development on all sides and from the list paraded here and from their past and present records, none (of the persons listed in this report as possible favourites for the ticket) is good enough for that. May God help Nigeria to get the right person.”