A founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Mukhtar Shagari, has said that the recent rhetoric about zoning, which is hinged upon the emergence of President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999, is totally unfounded.
Ahead of the 2023 presidential polls, there have been arguments that the leading political parties in the country must adhere to a certain zoning formula that will see power go to the South.
Proponents of this theory argue that the very reason Obasanjo was handed the PDP mandate when democracy returned in 1999, was due to zoning concessions which have since then played a major role in the decision for who will be given the party’s endorsement. The notion has now gone from being just one party’s internal politics to what many now think should be obtainable across board.
According to him, the PDP did not produce Obasanjo because of zoning.
“Obasanjo was brought by the PDP in order to satisfy what has been termed injustice done to the people of Southwest by June 12,” he said.
“The PDP felt that this is the time for us to look at all those issues and heal the wounds; that is why Obasanjo was brought in, he was not brought in for zoning, nobody was talking about zoning at that time.
“We know that people were dissatisfied, Abiola was voted by Nigerians and he was denied the mandate, so we decided that this is the time to heal the wound,” the PDP chieftain.
Shagari, who was a former deputy governor of Sokoto State, further opined that the issue of zoning must at this moment be treated as a side-show which it is, adding that what Nigerians want at this time, is a president that can move the country forward and bring unity amongst the people.
He believes zoning is an agenda pushed by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for fear that they will be ousted from the corridors of power when the next election comes around.
“At the moment, what is happening is that the APC is pushing very strongly the idea of zoning… They are doing this because they have realized that the Nigerian people have left them.
“They have also realized that the Nigerian people are yearning for the PDP to come back to power so that the good old days will come back to the country, the good old days of unity, of development, of inclusiveness, of listening to people and the rest of it,” Shagari argued.
He reiterated that Nigerians are trying to find a government that can take the nation forward, adding that what is important to members of the PDP is winning the forthcoming election, not where the presidential candidate will come from.