Zoning/Consensus: PDP must avoid self-immolation, warns Ex A’Ibom Dep. Gov. Ekpotu

former Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom state and chieftain of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), Engr Patrick Ekpotu

As the dates for the 2023 presidential election primaries of major political parties draw near, former Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom state and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Engr Patrick Ekpotu, has warned that the party risks ‘avoidable self-immolation’ if the misgivings challenge thrown up by zoning/consensus agitations, are not amicably and transparently handled.

He said that leaving the issues of zoning still lingering and eliciting heated debate, on the eve of the party’s primaries for an important general election, goes with certain depth of vulnerability. It may potentially hurt cohesion and unity of purpose in the party, given the widespread sentiments and inflamed passion over the zoning fiasco, adding that no individual zone alone, without the others, can win the election for the party.

The success, corporate existences and continuing relevance of the PDP, he said, would most likely depend on how the party manages the diverse interests and tendencies within the party in the coming weeks.

Ekpotu stressed that democracy abhors exclusion and any call or move that is not in sync with the principles of inclusivity, which draws life from democracy, is anti-people and anti-progress; and should be jettisoned in the overall interest and success of the party, going forward.

He maintained that zoning, just like any talk of consensus, at this eleventh hour, could be tantamount to invitation of chaos. It is my honest opinion that it is already late to be talking about zoning or consensus when the party primary is around the corner and about 17 aspirants have already bought nomination forms in our party.”

Ekpotu made these assertions in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, April 24, 2022.

Although the PDP, in his summation, had made the unwitting mistake of not taking a position about the contentious zoning issue since the conclusion of the last general election, he insisted that the party must quickly rise above this challenge by taking steps that would reassure its faithful.

Most especial, he said, are the presidential aspirants, who are currently working hard, crisscrossing the nation, in search of delegates, adding that they deserve to enjoy an unconditional, conducive environment and level playing ground, in line with the democracy principles.

To continue to remain indifferent to the issue, he said, is to encourage new dimensions of greater aberrations such as the one that recently played out in Northern Presidential Consensus Candidate drama, which according to him, was seemingly conceived in misgiving to conspire, lock out, and eject some aspirants, including Atiku Abubakar and others, from the presidential race.

Ekpotu further stressed that the PDP does not need self-enabled divisiveness at this moment, when the whole nation is looking up to it as a viable alternative to the ruling Alł Progressives Congress (APC), whose administration, according to him, has been disappointing, underwhelming and shockingly in bed with all that are crippling to the nation’s rise to glory. This, he said, is sadly against the high hopes and expectations of many at the inception of the administration.

According to the former deputy governor, “Zoning in itself, alone, can’t win an election. As a democratic arrangement, it may answer the questions of equity, justice, fairness, and prejudices occasioned by years of entrenched institutional bias along primordial lines, when justly exercise. But as it stands today, while zoning remains one of the most discussed topics in the nation’s political space, it is apparently not the silver bullet that the PDP would rely upon to bring down the behemoth, that is the ruling party, APC in the coming presidential election.

He said further, “At the risk of repetition, I say again that, to sweep APC away from power come 2023, the PDP must have to put its best foot forward in order to meet the overwhelming yearning of the people.

“It must focus on the bigger picture of regaining presidential power, by finding a way to concentrate its energy, resources and ingenuity in surmounting the hurdle of contesting power with an incumbent party, rather than sustaining the current disruptive, self-sabotaging zoning debate.

“We have to recognize and appreciate this fact, being unsentimental, in order to wean ourselves of unhelpful political illusions that may work against our collective interest and avoidable political self-immolation post 2023 general elections.”

He stressed that all the interests, especially the presidential aspirants, must be handled with utmost respect, understanding and tact, in a manner that would not hurt the individual egos or the sensibility of their teeming supporters and the regions they hail from.