A leading pan Igbo organisation, Igbo Leadership Development Foundation (ILDF), has lambasted Senator Gabriel Suswan, representing Benue North-East on his statement that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would zone the office of President to the North again in 2023, advising him not to insult Igbo sensibilities.
The group accused the Senator and some “uncanny and overly ambitious interests” in the leading opposition party of “flying a dangerous kite that would finally sink the PDP”.
Suswan had in an exclusive interview on Sunday, held that since the PDP failed to win the 2019 presidential election which it zoned to the North, the Party would still retain the ticket in the region since it did not win.
But in a statement signed by its Director of Public Affairs Dr. Law Mefor and released to newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday, ILDF queried the rationale behind his claim that the PDP was bound to zone the President to the North in 2023.
It added that such utterances and scheming go a long way in confirming that lack of commitment to a single term for the party’s candidate in 2019 in order to field a South East candidate in 2023 was the reason the PDP sidelined the party’s South East leaders immediately after the Port Harcourt National Convention and Presidential Primaries.
“The fact that the Senator Ike Ekweremadu-led PDP Post-Election Review Panel, in its wisdom, zoned the 2019 presidential ticket to the North to assuage the region’s feelings over the earlier breach of the zoning formula and to ensure that a fellow Northerner squared up with President Muhammadu Buhari, does not in any way mean that the ticket is now resident in the North.
“Feigning ignorance of the fact that the dynamics that informed the 2019 zoning have absolutely changed because the North has had two straight terms under President Buhari is most unfortunate.
“It is saddening that Suswan and his drummers ignored the monumental contributions of the South East to the fortunes of the PDP since its inception by sticking with the Party through thick and thin. The region has not only contributed immensely to the party’s presidential victories in four straight presidential elections, but was also the bastion of the opposition and rebuilding of the party since 2015.
The body faulted Suswan’s idea of power rotation and warned the lawmaker and the PDP against taking the support of the South East and the South generally for granted.
“The South East has not been given the chance to fly the PDP flag or to produce Nigerian President since the return of democracy in 1999.
“The bottom line is that power has stayed for two terms in the North and has to move South in the spirit of rotation, zoning, and national unity. The South East has not been given the chance to fly the PDP flag or to produce Nigerian President since 1999 despite its huge contributions to PDP’s electoral fortunes.
“Suswan must therefore wake up from this daydream and treacherous path and the PDP should bear in mind that it is not the only national political party. The South East would not think twice to follow en-masse a credible alternative under which they can realise their aspiration of leading the country since the end of the civil war”, the statement concluded.
Recall that the Igbo Leadership Development Foundation had in March this year organised a National Conversation attended by many national and regional leaders in Abuja, where it made a strong case for a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction to heal old wounds and strengthen the unity of the nation.