On Wednesday, September 29, 2021, at the Akwa Ibom governor’s residence in Abuja, the 12 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors in a meeting, zoned the party chairmanship to the north. Some politicians were quick to assert that the governors’ decision doesn’t in any way affects the party’s presidential ticket status- whether it will be zoned to the north or south. Those people are either third-rate politicians or they don’t want to accept the reality. Zoning party offices in correlation with the other executive offices, the presidency inclusive, has been the tradition of the major political parties in Nigeria since 1999. For the PDP for instance, the office of the party’s national chairman and the presidency always reflect the spirit of zoning- Solomon Lar from the north was paired with Olusegun Obasanjo/south. Others- Audu Ogbeh/North- Olusegun Obasanjo/South. Barnabas Gemade/North- Olusegun Obasanjo/South. Ahmadu Ali/North- Olusegun Obasanjo/South. Vincent Ogbulafor/South- Umaru Musa Yar’Adua/North. Haliru Mohammed Bello/North Goodluck Jonathan/South. Kawu Baraje/North Goodluck Jonathan/South. Bamanga Tukur/North-Goodluck Jonathan/South. Adamu Mu’azu/North Goodluck Jonathan/South. Uche Secondus/South-Abubakar Atiku/North (presidential ticket).
In fact, zoning has been guiding the Nigerian project, despite the fact that it is not in the constitution of Nigeria. We must also admit that from 1999 to 2019 many politicians ignored their party’s zoning arrangement, though it was only Former President Goodluck Jonathan that succeeded in tempering with it via the power of incumbency.
Political pundits’ special interest in the voting pattern of the PDP governors is on those Governors from the Northeast -Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa, and Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba- they all voted for the chairmanship to be zoned to the south. Former Vice President and 2023 Presidential hopeful Atiku Abubakar must have been very happy with the northeast governors’ voting pattern, though Governor Bala is also nursing a presidential ambition. Some people are also of the view that, what happened was just a stunt by the PDP governors, they have their own plans.
Furthermore, of particular focus is Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa state, when Fintiri granted an interview to BBC Hausa Service Radio, on September 3, 2021, he refused to give blanket support to Atiku’s presidential ambition, when Fintiri was asked; whether he will support Atiku; if he Atiku presented himself for the 2023 presidential elections, Fintiri refused to give a definite and affirmative answer. However, On September 29, 2021, Fintiri voted for the South to produce the PDP Chairman, thus for the north to have the presidential ticket. So, we who heavily criticized Fintiri for not endorsing Atiku during the BBC interview, we were wrong? Has Fintiri been vindicated? As he said only time will tell! We were wrong and right at the same time. Fintiri has been vindicated and not vindicated at the same time. What are we saying? If today, Atiku is asked whether he will support Fintiri for a second term as Adamawa governor comes 2023, Atiku refuses to give a definite answer; how would Fintiri feel? Depressed of course. Knowing fully well the complexity of Adamawa politics, Governor Fintiri has unknowingly set a poor standard in the state’s politics.
For voting south, Fintiri was politically correct to be fair to him. Governor Fintiri is in the know of so many things in the PDP national politics that many of us are not privy of- He heads the PDP powerful National Convention Committee. However, Fintiri’s intimate-political-romance with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers states makes Adamawa the home state of Atiku as the battle-ground for the Wike-Atiku game- we all know that Wike will never promote politics that will give Atiku an advantage.
As for Atiku, is he now counting losses or gains in Adamawa politics? This is anybody’s guess. Atiku is for sure recollecting Former Governor Boni Haruna’s absolute loyalty- Boni, despite his sound education, calmness, the big political opportunities during the Obasanjo-Atiku fight, he accepted to lose both political and economic power and put his entire political lieutenants in a boat of ‘missed-opportunities’ fighting his boss’s political course. The loyalty Boni gave Atiku and the opportunities he provided to the Atiku political family; in his government, Fintiri didn’t give them even 5%. Though Governor Fintiri has his own style and forecast as a young politician, and, you can’t expect two people to think and operate in the same way.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Abuja, email@example.com, 08036070980