FORMER Vice President Atiku Abubakar has changed his previous stance on the zoning of political offices in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 2023 elections.
Atiku, who was the presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2019, expressed concerns over the party remaining in the opposition and urged members to support his quest to clinch the presidential ticket for the 2023 general elections.
“I am worried and you should be worried too that if we do not win, it means we will be in opposition again for the next eight years.
“By the next eight years, I don’t know how many of us will be left in politics and it may even ultimately lead to the death of the party because people gravitate, particularly in developing countries, towards governments. So this is a very crucial and historical moment in history, for our survival.”
He noted that the PDP invented the policy of zoning during elections.
However, he said the party should not copy the All Progressives Party (APC) by zoning the presidency to the South in the 2023.
“We invented and formulated this zoning policy simply because we wanted every part of this country to have a sense of belonging and I personally have paid my dues on the issue of zoning.
“Therefore, you cannot come and try to imply that the PDP has not been following the zoning policy. The many years of PDP government eight years and six years all of them were from the South. So, we should not be stampeded by the opposition party. They have a moral obligation,” he said.
Atiku’s recent statement contradicts his initial stand on the zoning of political offices by parties in Nigeria.
In 2010, Atiku called for the zoning of the presidential ticket to the Northern part of the country, where he comes from.
He clamoured for zoning in July 2010 alongside other political leaders from the North under the Northern Political Leaders Forum.
They sought to claim the ‘Northern ticket’ from former President Goodluck Jonathan who became the president following the death of former President Umar Musa Yar’adua.
The forum said zoning the ticket to the North was to “safeguard the system of equity and fairness which would give all Nigerians a sense of belonging”.
“In fact, it is not even about the presidency; zoning and rotation affect all levels and segments of public office in the country. We believe that zoning and rotation will, for the foreseeable future serve the best interest of Nigeria and its political stability, at least in the short-and medium-term,” the Forum had noted.
This was not the only time Atiku and his allies advocated for the rotation or zoning of political offices in Nigeria.
He also called for zoning in December 2015, at the PDP National Stakeholders’ Conference in Abuja.
On Wednesday, December 15, 2010, Atiku, again, warned that if zoning was abandoned by the party, it could lead to a violent change
He also called for the zoning of political posts across the geo-political zones in the country.
Speaking alongside other PDP leaders, Atiku also said consensus candidacy was about national unity.
“Our coming here is not about Atiku, it is about the peace, the unity and stability of Nigeria as exemplified by all the speakers who spoke to this audience today. Today is about building consensus for national unity. We have some elder statesmen on consensus building. It is about the rule of law, due process and standing for what is right,” he noted.
During a meeting on Thursday, Atiku also admitted that he called for zoning in 2007.