By Laraba Raphael
Even though the 2023 general election is more than one year ahead, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are already at war over former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The PDP fired the shot by accusing the APC of romancing and trying to lobby President Jonathan to defect to the APC ahead of 2023 following the plethora of APC stalwarts that graced his 63th birthday bash in Bayelsa State.
The same Jonathan, in 2015, was vilified and blackmailed over the unceasing bombings by the Boko Haram insurgents, financial impropriety, kidnap of over 200 school girls in Chibok, a town in Borno State and economic down turn.
He was accused of trying to truncate the zoning agreement, which some people had claimed that the North was to produce a president after the death of President Musa Yar’Adua.
Aside that, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who had backed Jonathan for the plum job, fell out with him because his godson deviated from the political moral norms of the society, and backed then General Muhammadu Buhari.
At that time, General Muhammadu Buhari, was regarded as a very transparent figure would change the political fortunes of the country. And because of the sophisticated media propaganda set up, the opposition party, APC defeated the PDP.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Muhammadu Buhari, won the presidential election by more than 2.5 million votes defeating the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, who conceded defeat on 31 March, even before the final results from across the 36 states was announced.
The final results showed the APC’s candidate Buhari scored 15,424,921 votes while Jonathan’s PDP gained 12,853,162 votes.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodiyan, said “The visit, which is a clear endorsement of the acceptability of the PDP administration, also indicates that the APC, in 2015, only created artificial symbols of misgovernance, corruption and other alleged misgivings just to discredit our party and grab the levers of power to achieve their selfish desires.
“It is evident that the Jonathan administration succeeded in office basically because our party understands the nuances of our nation, which we translated into people-oriented polices and programmes, in line with the manifesto of our party, to make life comfortable for Nigerians.
“This visit to Jonathan by the APC governors is a direct acceptance of the successes recorded by our party in building a strong nation with a virile economy that was rated as one of the fastest growing economies of the world.
“The visit is therefore, a subtle step by APC governors into the corridors of the PDP in agreement that our party holds the solution to the myriads of problems brought to our nation by their APC and President Muhammadu Buhari.”
PDP was taunted and mocked because it had boasted that it would govern the country for at least 60 solid years which was reduced to 16 years.
The humiliating defeat saw most of its heavyweight and prominent figures openly and clandestinely defected to APC, a situation, political pundits described as selfish and insensitive.
But the Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, responded by saying that “PDP is obviously rattled and disoriented by the recent courtesy visit by some Governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“At a time when the PDP and its leadership is grappling with a crisis of confidence, one would expect the failed opposition to focus on picking itself up.”
Ahead of 2023 general plebiscite, there are divergent opinion as which zone is expected to produce the next president.
Already, there are rumours that the likes of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi , Orji Uzor Kalu, Owelle Rochas Okorocha have been brought to the frontline as possible candidates that will flag the APC presidential project.
But in the midst of these postulations the recent defection of Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi has instigated another room for speculations that President Buhari, would likely back him because he is from the South-East, a zone that has never produced a president since the country returned to democracy rule in 1999.
Umahi claimed that the reason for his defection was a result of the injustice and marginalization of the South-East zone by the PDP.
Already, a Pan-Arewa socio-political organization known as Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development, has drummed support for the South-East to produce the next president in 2023.
The group, which contended that its support was borne out of the need for every zone to have a taste of the presidency, further flayed the marginalization of the South-East zone in the scheme of things in the country, since 1999.
Its National Coordinator, Engr. Zana Goni and National Women Leader, Mario Bichi, implored the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to zone their tickets to the region.
Goni, who, also, urged Ohanaeze Ndigbo, to lobby other regions to support the ambition of the South-East, vowed to mobilise support with a view to achieving Igbo presidency.
“Since President Buhari is from the North, the right thing is that after his eight-year tenure, the next president should come from Southern Nigeria and since South West and South South have occupied the office in the current dispensation, the South East is next in line in the spirit of the rotation principle, fairness, equity and justice.
“This will bring an end to the manifest marginalisation of the South East. This will foster national unity, and also bring to a close the bitterness of the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, which has lingered for 50 years since the end of hostilities and engender unity.
“There is no denying the fact that the Igbo have contributed greatly to the development of this country. It is time for us all to reciprocate their good gestures through mass support for the next president to emerge from the South East.
“We task Ohanaeze Ndigbo (umbrella organization of Igbos worldwide), to reach out to great Igbo leaders to make contacts with leaders from other geo- political zones and interest groups for support for South East president.
“In 1993, General Sani Abacha created six geopolitical zones in Nigeria-South East, South West, South-South, North East, North West and North Central, the elders added that the creations were to help streamline the way the country was structured.
“The creation was for the purposes of using the zones as yardsticks towards ensuring equity, justice and fair play in the sharing and allocation of Nigerian economic, political and social resources among the component parts of the country.
“We have observed that since the inception of the six geo-political zones, it has become a standard for component parts of each of the zones to lean on this arrangement in demanding for fair play in interactions for allocation of resources.
“The Northern elders desire to stand on this zoning arrangement to make a point on 2023 Presidency that is of grave importance to South-East geo-political zone in particular and Nigeria in general,” he said.
Despite the argument and and counter argument, it is left for the leadership of APC and PDP to decide whether tickets would be zoned when former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, are still joggling to for soul of PDP.