The Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, on Tuesday in Abuja kicked against the idea of zoning of the Presidency and cautioned the PDP to focus on winning elections.
He said the party would have the liberty to share power only after it had successfully won the 2023 elections at the centre and in the states.
Tambuwal said this when he met with former presiding officers of state Houses of Assembly and the House of Representatives in Abuja as part of wide consultation ahead of his official declaration to run for the office of President in 2023.
His position appears to be a clap-back on his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike, who insists that the main opposition party should zone its presidential ticket to the South-South.
After its 95th National Executive Council meeting last Wednesday, the PDP had constituted a 37-member committee to make recommendations for the zoning of various elective positions ahead of the general elections.
Given only two weeks for the assignment, the committee is expected to submit its report next Wednesday.
But speaking on Tuesday, Tambuwal said, “Now, this is for the PDP. In the South, as of today, the PDP is in eight government houses. The APC is also in eight government houses, leaving one, Anambra. In the North, the APC is in 14 government houses and the PDP is in five government houses. And they (the APC) have the President.
“I’m giving you this analysis so that together, as leaders of our party, we can work towards winning the election, not zoning, not winning tickets. Yes, we can share tickets and everybody can take his piece and go to his zone. But you must plan to win the election. That’s the reality of it. It’s not anybody’s making. I didn’t make myself come from Sokoto. No, it’s God.
“So, we must accept these realities as a party and work with these realities to win the election. After that, we can now say okay, let’s share power. Win the election first. Don’t win zoning! Win the election and then we’ll come and share power.”
The presidential hopeful noted that as the APC did in 2015, the PDP must seek viable candidates with which it could win elections and not narrow its chances through a zoning arrangement.
According to him, had the APC presented a candidate from the South in 2015, it would have lost the presidential election.
The Sokoto governor stated, “The APC took their ticket to Katsina in 2015, where the last PDP President, Umaru Yar’Adua, who died in office in 2010, hailed from. Five years later, the APC, out of strategic thinking with Bola Tinubu and the rest of them, did this. I was part of it. We said we were looking for how to zone, but we must get power before we share it.
“I deliberately took the APC ticket to Katsina to give it to President Muhammadu Buhari. Yes, Atiku contested; Rabiu Musa contested and Sam Nda-Isaiah and Rochas Okorocha contested. But we knew where we were going, because we were determined to win.
“Let me tell you, had the APC given that ticket to someone from the South, in particular the South-South, we couldn’t have won. Go and check the election results of 2007. Buhari had 11 million votes before in 2003. But in 2007, he got seven million votes against Yar’Adua because they are from the same Katsina. For the PDP, I have a question. Are we looking at zoning or winning?”
According to him, the PDP must balance the calibre of candidates it hopes to front in the elections, arguing that the party could not afford to front two candidates from the same region or religion as that would be political suicide.
He said “The President and the Vice-President cannot come from the same zone. They cannot even come from the same religion. Am I right? If you have the President and the Vice-President as Muslims, that’s dead on arrival. In the current Nigerian situation, if you have both of them as Christians, that’s dead on arrival.
“So you must balance the ticket and sit down. We cannot do what the APC has done, especially this second term, because we believe in this country and we know this country. We understand the dynamics and complexities of Nigeria’s condition. Otherwise, how else will you look at the line-up in the Federal Government like Nigeria? President, Vice-President, Senate President, Speaker, Deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker, SGF, Chief of Staff, even chairman of the party, and no one from the South-East.
“We can’t do that. Where I am involved, that cannot happen. So, what we need is inclusiveness. We can then run the country.”
On his 2023 ambition, Tambuwal said he was the most qualified aspirant to clinch the party’s ticket and to lead the nation.
In his remarks, a former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, said no opposition party bothers itself with zoning, but it must focus on winning elections.
He also taunted those advocating zoning to begin from their states saying, “Why come to the centre to talk about zoning? Are you interested in winning the centre and losing at home?”