A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Olusola Adeyeye has warned that the party will lose the 2023 presidential election except it learns from the mistake made by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the 2015 elections.
Adeyeye submitted that the PDP lost the 2015 presidential election because some people within the party attempted to go against the zoning arrangement in place which made many politicians dump the party and support the APC and Buhari.
He argued that as it stands, it is the turn of the south to produce Nigeria’s next leader after President Muhammadu Buhari, and if the APC doesn’t respect the zoning agreement, it may spell doom for the party’s fortune in the 2023 presidential polls.
He added that it is not too early to start preparing for the 2023 election or to take a stand on which zone will produce the APC presidential candidate.
The Senator made his views known during an interview with Gbade Ogunwale where he was asked some questions about the APC and preparations for 2023.
In his words, “You may think it is too early but it is not. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine. Nothing is too early in politics. As a matter of fact, it is better to be too early than to be too late. So it’s high time the national leadership of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), stemmed the needless controversy over the zoning of the 2023 presidential ticket.”
“We are all witnesses to the electoral tragedy recorded by the erstwhile ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 presidential election, as a result of internal disagreements over zoning of its presidential ticket.”
“Recall how the PDP leaders bungled their chances by failing to resolve their differences arising from the mismanagement of the zoning issue and how the APC, then in opposition, reaped bountifully from a breach of this gentleman’s agreement by some of the PDP leaders at the time.
During the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, there were strong agitations among some power blocs demanding that the PDP presidential ticket for 2015 be zoned to the North.
Just as we presently have in the APC, the agitators had hinged their demand on an existing unwritten agreement reached before the 2011 elections; that the PDP presidential ticket would be zoned to the North in 2015.
The proponents had argued that since the late President Umaru Yar ‘Adua did not complete his tenure as a result of untimely death, Jonathan, who completed his tenure, should be allowed to contest for a term after completing Yar ‘Adua’s unfinished tenure.
I learnt that it was even a mutual unwritten agreement that Jonathan himself subscribed to. Based on that agreement, the entire PDP machinery across the six geopolitical zones was mobilised in support of Jonathan’s candidacy in the 2011 elections.
Riding on that goodwill, Jonathan had contested and won the poll and everybody in the PDP was happy for it. But when it came to honouring the agreement to cede the 2015 presidential ticket to the North, some powerful individuals in the party, particularly from the South, decided to jettison the unwritten agreement and therefore, threw their weight behind Jonathan for the ticket.
The ensuing disenchantment arising from the failure of the PDP to respect the unwritten zoning code, led to the defection of a good number of the party’s prominent chieftains to the APC to joined the Buhari Tsunami ahead of the 2015 general elections.
As a result, the PDP had gone into the 2015 elections a divided house, to confront some of its leading lights on the other side of the battle field. And the rest, as they say, is history. A good number of the erstwhile PDP bigwigs and heavyweights that joined our party, the APC, as a result of that betrayal, are still with us today and they can tell the story better.”
“Already, there are reports in the media space indicating that some political actors across party lines are strategising on floating another platform ahead of the 2023 elections. The reason might not be unconnected with the perceived prevarication by the two existing major parties, the PDP and the APC over the zoning of their 2023 presidential tickets. If this happens, the backlash may not bode well for both the ruling party and the main opposition. Recall that a similar occurrence in 2013 left the erstwhile ruling party with heavy political casualties in the 2015 general elections. We must not make the same mistake. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”
On the fact that the APC does not have an elected leadership in place that may be able to take a final and definite position on zoning the party’s presidential ticket, Adeyeye submitted that the caretaker committee headed by Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni can take such decisions.
He added that the party is expected to hold a National Convention in June 2021 so the matter is what should have been fully resolved before the elections.
“Yes, the APC does not have an elected national leadership in place. But that does not mean there is leadership vacuum. Today, the APC has a subsisting leadership in the National Caretaker and Special Convention Planning Committee that can address the zoning issue before the National Convention, which is billed to hold in June. It won’t be an aberration for the Mala Mai Buni led Caretaker Committee to take the right step in that direction. Such decision and any other ones that may be agreed on, can then be tabled before the Convention for ratification. Recall that the Caretaker Committee has been taking similar far reaching decisions since it came on board. For example, the decision on the ongoing revalidation and re-registration of APC membership nationwide was taken by the Caretaker Committee and it is binding on every member of the party. They did not wait for the National Convention to take place before taking that decision. That is why I believe the same decision can be taken regarding zoning. This, and any other decisions that the Caretaker Committee may also take along the line, can then be ratified at the Convention Ground in June,” he said.
Asked about his preference for the candidacy of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for the APC ticket, Senator Ajibola disclosed that he believes Tinubu is the best candidate for the job, but that doesn’t stop others from contesting the ticket.
“We have not foreclosed the possibility of any other aspirants. What I am saying is that as we speak, Tinubu remains the best product we have on offer. Check his political antecedents and you would see that he has come a long way.
“Recall his struggles during the NADECO days when he and other compatriots had to confront the Abacha military junta at the risk of their personal safety. Recall also that a few Nigerians also lost their lives to the struggle under Abacha. Tinubu and a few others were forced to go on exile to enable them fight another day. As we all know, by sheer providence, Abacha’s regime came to and abrupt end in 1998 and there was a gush of fresh air across the country. And by providence, Tinubu got elected as governor of Lagos state in 1999 and got reelected in 2003. Many will agree that Tinubu set the foundation for the growth and development we see in Lagos state today. As a democrat, he has built bridges across the country that have enhanced the democratic process in Nigeria. This was why he could mobilise and rally support for the formation of the APC in 2013, and together with other compatriots, went ahead to ensure the emergence of Buhari as the presidential candidate of the APC in the 2015 elections. For now, he is the best material we can put forward to enable the South West get the desired result. I say this with every sense of responsibility and without prejudice to others who may be interested in the race.”