ZONING ROW: South in New Offensive, Divided Over Micro-Zoning

…tackles PDP

Igbo 2023 Presidency
By Chinonoso Alozie, Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo, Chioma Onuegbu & Ademola Adegbite

There was sharp division among the leadership of regional groups, weekend, over the part of southern Nigeria to produce the next President as they failed to agree on a particular zone.

Amid the disagreement, they were unanimous in calling on the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to toe the line of All Progressives Congress, APC, by zoning the presidency to the South.

They said any arrangement short of southern presidency may not have the support of the entire South.

Southern Nigeria in no order comprises the South-East, South-South and South-West.

Ahead of 2023 general elections, there is much clamour for Igbo presidency on the grounds that the South-East is the only zone yet to produce the President among the three power blocs in the country, Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo of the South-West extraction had spent eight years while ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, who hailed from South-South, served for six years, making the South-East the only zone in the South yet to produce the president since 1999.

The APC had, last week, zoned the presidency to the South, which led to concerns over the part of the zone to produce the presidential ticket. The development also left the PDP, which seems to have left its ticket open, in dilemma.

But, in several chats with Sunday Vanguard, regional bodies failed to agree on where the next President should hail from but were united in asking the PDP not to zone the presidency to the North.


Secretary-General of Yoruba Council of Elders,YCE, Dr. Kunle Olajide,said:

“As far as I’m concerned, I think the APC has its strength in the South-West. Therefore, if they are desirous of capturing the votes of the South-West, they should microzone it to South-West. There is no question about that. The National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is of the South-West. In the South-East and South-South, there is not much presence of APC in those zones. It is only fair for the party to microzone it to the South-West.

“It is the South-West that is sustaining the APC in the South. It would be the entitlement of the South-West this time.

“For the PDP, if they are politically wise, they ought to do likewise. In my own opinion, if they are politically wise, they should naturally consider the South-West for their presidential slot.”


Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide said final justice would have been achieved if the zoning of APC the presidential ticket to the southern part of the country was narrowed down to the South-East.

National Publicity Secretary of the body, Alex Ogbonnia, made this known to Sunday Vanguard in Owerri.

He said: “While hailing President Muhammadu Buhari and the entire leadership of the APC, Ohanaeze Ndigbo believes there is no halfway to justice and equity; and that “injustice is an open wound, only truth can heal it”. Therefore, the South-East of Nigeria is very confident that the APC will follow the search for political stability, unity, progress, equity and justice to its logical conclusion.

“They are on the way to justice and we are happy but giving it to the South-East region will bring about the expected justice.

“Nigerians should note that justice and truth are like gold; buried one hundred feet below the sea level for one hundred years, becomes more valuable when unearthed. So, there is always a profound sense of dignity when one embarks on the right course. Here lies the irrepressible Igbo collective unconscious.

“APC has by the above decision won the heart of the Southern Governors Forum comprising governors from PDP, APC, and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Afenifere, Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and indeed all Nigerian compatriots.

“It is hoped that the PDP will emulate the APC by zoning its presidential ticket to the South. It is worth reiterating that the bane of Nigerian politics is rooted, among others, in lack of principles.”

On its part, apex Yoruba group, Afenifere, said it is more concerned about seeing all the parties zoning their tickets to the South.

National Publicity Secretary of the body, Mr. Jare Ajayi, said: “Although Afenifere is not a political party, our advocacy is that the presidency should come to the South. For now, we cannot talk about whether to microzone the ticket. When we get to the bridge, we will cross it.

“Our position is to come down here and at the appropriate time, we will make our decision known in that respect. For now, going by the working relationship we have with Southern and Middle Belt Forum, and on where specifically in the South, we have not taken any decision on that. Other political parties should follow the gesture of APC and resolve issues amicably to ensure the presidential ticket goes to the appropriate zone.”


National Publicity Secretary of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Mr. Ken Robinson, said it is proper for every political party to zone the presidency to southern Nigeria.

His words: “ First of all Pan Niger Delta Forum ,PANDEF, would like to commend the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, for doing what is right and proper. People say that there is no morality in politics, but the APC has displayed a high level of political morality by zoning the presidency of the party to southern Nigeria.

“After eight years of northern presidency, the proper thing to do is for the next President of the country to come from southern Nigeria. So, for emphasis PANDEF is pleased and we commend the APC. Having said that, it is expected that all other major political parties in the country do the same.

“Any party that does not zone its presidency to southern Nigeria is not serious, and that party does not believe in peace, unity and progress of Nigeria.

“And that is the position of just PANDEF, and other socio-cultural groups in the country under the aegis of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum ,SMBLF, which comprises Afenifere from the South-West, Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo from South-East, and the Middle Belt forum from the northern minority’’.


National Publicity Secretary of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, said: “Now that the APC has zoned the presidency to the South, we hope their members who were going about with threats of blood and fire will give the party and Nigeria some peace. Where the party microzones to is their constitutional responsibility. We have always maintained our stand on this. We can only get involved when a clear party candidate has emerged. Then we will engage the candidate and find out his plans for the North and Nigeria.”

President, Arewa Youth Forum, AYF, Gambo Gujungu, added: “We respect all political parties and what they agreed on. Our concern is for Nigerians to have a peaceful election and transmission of power without any hitch in 2023.

However, to engage in threats or acts of intimidation in the current circumstances negates the ideal principles of democracy. The North is too powerful to be threatened. Democracy should be about the triumph of popular choices, lobby and consensus.”

Northern thinking

Spokesperson for Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, Abdulaziz Sulaiman, said: “As far as we are concerned, the parties can zone, rezone or microzone their candidate to any part of the country so long as at the end of the whole exercise the best emerges. The only misgiving we may have is zoning the presidency to the South-East. We are not sure if the North would risk power in the hands of a people who have taken up arms against the state.

“A people who at every turn of event have declared secession, violently in some cases may not be safe to be trusted with power.

‘’Our position has always been that the next President must be a young Nigerian who has the competence, capacity and necessary integrity to see the country through and out of its limitations around security and the economy’’.

Senseless regionalism

Leader of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum ,AYCF, Shettima Yerima, on his part, said “Our position at AYCF has always been consistent with democratic principles and we still believe that no matter where a presidential hails from, the voters have the final say. It is the power of the majority and not the exclusive right of any section of this country.

“The AYCF is waiting to see whether the APC and PDP will formally declare for Presidency exclusively in favor of southern aspirants and we will surprise them. We are ready to look for a political party platform that does not zone presidency based on senseless regionalism.

“In fact, we are waiting for those northerners who are coming here to market southern presidential aspirants. Whatever party they choose, we will floor them in a free and fair contest