Former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, has criticized the calls for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to zone its presidential ticket to a particular region.
According to him, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not recognise it.
Atiku also expressed optimism that the PDP would adopt the indirect primary, which he said was not only the most efficient and least expensive, but also allowed the politically enlightened members of the party to make important decisions for the party.
Atiku, who spoke at a meeting with members of a group, ‘Let’s Fix Nigeria’ with Atiku, on a solidarity visit at his residence in Abuja, said any Nigerian endowed with the right attributes could lead the country, as against the call for a younger president, and urged Nigerians to look for such a person and give him leadership.
Similarly, the leader of the Atiku Abubakar presidential campaign, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, who was present at the meeting said, there was no doubt whatsoever that Atiku had the capacity, ability, the will, to unite the country as he had been tested and proven.
It would be recalled that the Southern and Middle-Belt Forum, comprising the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere; the pan-Igbo socio-political group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo; and the Middle-Belt Forum, had called all political parties to zone their presidential ticket to the South as the regions would not vote for a Northern presidential candidate in 2023.
But speaking on Thursday, Atiku, who is one of the prominent northern politicians interested in contesting the 2023 presidential election, said, “Fundamentally, the Constitution says all of us can run. The Constitution has not barred any one of us. There is no zoning in the Constitution; there is none. I was a member of the constituent assembly that drafted the current Constitution and there was nothing like that.
However, the Waziri of Adamawa, who recalled how he bought the idea of zoning in the PDP during a discussion with a former vice president, the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, assured that he would adopt measures that would unify and stabilise Nigeria, if elected.
“But then, as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, we felt that there should be a sense of belonging. We went and invented this zoning.
“Therefore, we went further to say there should be zonal representation. So, let me assure you that as far as I am concerned, I will observe and implement whatever will bring about the peace and stability of this country.
“Leadership is endowed by God. You can have a young man come and do better than an old man. So, it is an endowed attribute from God, therefore, we should try to look for such a person who has been endowed by God, who has those attributes and then give him leadership.
The former vice president lamented that Nigeria was more divided now than it was during the Civil War, while insecurity and poverty had become prevalent in the country.
“I have never seen; this country have so many challenges at the same time. So, sometimes, when I am on my bed, I begin to wonder whether to go for it (contest) or not, because the challenges are just too many. In my life, I have never seen Nigeria in such a bad situation.
“As far as the unity of this country is concerned, we are more divided. Even when we fought the Civil War, we were never as divided as this. We never have a breakdown of law and order like this because when we fought the Civil War, it was confined to a particular location, in every other place, there was peace.
“We never had this kind of poverty where even the farmer cannot go to farm the food to eat, not to talk of commercial farming. So, I have never seen this country so bad, and it is going to be a daunting task for anybody to come and turn things around.”