The All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, said that the South-East geo-political zone will not be given an automatic ticket to produce the presidential candidate on the platform of the ruling party in 2023.
Since the victory of the APC in the 2019 presidential election, agitations by various zones to produce the presidential candidate in the next dispensation have rented the air, with the South-East, South-West and the North, laying claims to the ticket.
National Organising Secretary of the APC, Chief Emma Ibediro, who stated the position of the party while reacting to the agitation of the South-East for the ticket, said the presidential ticket of the party would not be given on the basis of right or entitlement, but earned by people or zones based on their contributions to the party.
Ibediro, who is also from Imo State, posited that what has affected the fortunes of the South-East in the election of principal officers at the 9th National Assembly might also affect the zone on the issue of the APC presidential ticket in 2023.
“Igbo presidency is not a right, just like Hausa presidency is not a right, Yoruba presidency is not a right. Igbo presidency can only become possible if you work within the party and convince the rest of Nigerians to produce a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction.
“The fact that you are from South-East or from any other area is neither here nor there. So, if the people from the South-East are aspiring to become Nigeria’s president, I think the first thing to do is to work within the party, to get the rest of Nigerians to accept them for that position. It is not a right, that is what I would say,” he said.
The National Organising Secretary argued that for anybody, especially the Igbo agitating for the APC Presidential ticket, to succeed in 2023, they must be able to convince the party and Nigerians on why they should have it.
“I don’t want to be emphatic that there must be an Igbo person. This party is not built on the platform of dictating to the people what they want. Remember, if you check the percentage of population of members of APC and check the population of Nigerians, you will see that the Igbo are even less than five per cent.
“So, we are talking about a president that will be a president of Nigeria, not a president of APC. So, first of all, under whatever platform you want to achieve that aspiration, you have to work to get yourself acceptable to that platform you belong to. It is not going to be an automatic award that Nigerians should give South-East ticket for president. What of a situation where APC gives ticket automatically to somebody from the South-East and he doesn’t win the election? Have you considered that?” he asked.
Ibediro said that the Igbo electorate were not charitable to the APC in 2019 general election and expressed disappointment over the voting pattern of the Igbo in the last elections.
He argued that zoning of political offices in government would be dependent on what was brought to the table by members of each zone.
“The South-East needs to play good politics, the politics of engagement, the politics of consultation, the politics of getting the other parts of Nigeria involved in their aspirations. But for now, I don’t think we are playing good politics. It is a question of give and take. I’m an Igbo man and I need to be very objective.
“The president campaigned in all the five states of the South-East, just as he campaigned in every other states, but what was the return in terms of votes? So, you also need to encourage people to do something for you. You cannot at every point be asking for something without giving something back,” he said.
Meanwhile, the APC would commence the sale of Expression of Interest and Nomination forms for its governorship tickets in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
The forms, according to Ibediro, would cost N22.5 million each.
Ibediro also said that female and physical challenged aspirants would pay half of the cost of nomination forms.
According to him, the primaries would be conducted in the last week of August.
He said: “In line with the provision of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) guidelines, the APC hereby releases this timetable and schedule of activities for the conduct of the 2019 Governorship Primary Elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
“Female and physically challenged aspirants would pay 50% of the prescribed fees for each position,” the ruling party stated in the statement.