The decision, Tuesday, by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to zone its presidential ticket to the Southern part of the country, might have put the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a quandary for contemplating to leave its own ticket open and by implication, put the north at advantage.
But the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, on Wednesday, reinforced the PDP position, when he declared that the zoning of the presidency to the South by the ruling party posed no threat to the main opposition party ahead of the 2023 general election.
His reaction may however underscore a concern in the party even though he tried to put a brave face on it.
Unfortunately for the PDP, the APC seems to be playing a rather smarter card, given the current mood of the nation, and especially, because while most of the governors in both parties wanted power to shift to the south of Nigeria, the governors, being life of the political parties, are consciously working to the answer.
Although in the PDP, such leaders like former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, and his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed, are among those, who want the PDP ticket thrown open. The Southern PDP governors are also inclined to power shift.
However, the possibility that the PDP too might still go South is high, because once the party had zoned its chairmanship to the North, it is only ideal that its presidential ticket is taken South, a situation that would further give the APC an advantage of southern votes.
This is not to dismiss the understanding alleged to have been reached by PDP leaders at the point of making Dr. Iyorchia Ayu the national chairman of party, that if the equation changed at the point of choosing a presidential candidate, the chairman would resign if interests clashed.
Interestingly, and based on simple logic, many of the PDP governors knew that the APC would have an advantage in the south if the presidency was zoned to the south.
But the danger in this is that the party could lose the votes of some northern states as THISDAY had previously extrapolated, a development that could automatically put states like Rivers, Delta and Akwa Ibom in play for the APC that is fielding a Southern candidate.
What this means is that with a Southern presidential candidate by the ruling APC and without a concurrent Southern presidential standard bearer in the PDP, those key oil-rich Southern states could be won by APC, while not losing much ground in the north.
Another factor that many are currently considering as likely to work in favour of the APC is the Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso’s national movement, otherwise known as the third force.
The movement could divide the PDP further as well as shave valuable votes from the PDP in the North. In other words, the advantage the PDP hopes to gain in the north by potentially fielding a Northerner might be significantly eroded by Kwankwaso’s third force.
This, nonetheless, Mohammed, who spoke with journalists, shortly after a meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, at his residence within the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, said the PDP would continue to strategise to rescue Nigeria from the present situation she has found herself.
The governor, who described Obasanjo as a man with a lot of wisdom and an elder statesman per excellence, said he had come to seek his opinion on some of the things going on in the party.
His words: “To me, the zoning of Presidency to the South by the APC is not a threat to the PDP, because each party is trying to strategise, to plan and organise. If they zone to the South, it is open to us to see how it is going to give us more electoral victory or if we put it to the North, it will give us more electoral victory.
“This is the kind of things we are doing: the leg works, the permutations and so and so forth. So that, at least, whatever we are going to do, is to provide for Nigerians to choose between the best alternatives.”
While stressing the past relationship with Obasanjo, Mohammed said the issue of PDP, was basically one of the reasons for his visit.
He said, “We know that Baba is non-partisan; we know he is an elder statesman per excellence. But, we are rebuilding our party to remove rancour, division and so on. So, we still need him, because his words of wisdom are always very useful.
“So, I have come to sound his opinion on some of the things going on in the party; to close ranks and make sure that we provide Nigerians with the opportunity to rescue the country, from the present division going around, which we have found ourselves,” he said.
The Bauchi governor expressed optimism about his chances of getting the PDP presidential ticket to contest the 2023 election.
He said, “To me, presidency is a consensus – a stakeholder and a statesmanship – it is responsibilities. Of course, every Nigerian should try to contribute his or her quota to the growth and development of the nation.
“More so, when leadership recruitment should be based on merit, should be based on making sure that, we bring everybody on board and should not be based on manifestation of separatist, which are the instruments and the disgruntlement that are capable of dividing us further.
“Nigeria is too large and too important to be ignored. Some of us have benefited so much. It is not about me and my expression, but about the country.”