Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola on Tuesday urged the All Progressives Congress (APC) to respect its zoning formula in picking its presidential candidate for the 2023 elections.
He described the decision as the core of the agreement reached by APC founding fathers prior to the 2015 elections.
Fashola (SAN), was Lagos State governor when the APC was founded and he was a critical stakeholder at the time. He has been serving as a minister since the party took over the Federal Government from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015.
He spoke at a time there is controversy on whether power will shift to the South after President Muhammadu Buhari would have completed his two terms in 2023.
Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi’s defection from the PDP to the APC has also sparked a conversation on zoning.
The governor said he defected because the PDP is not keen and had never zoned the Presidency to the Southeast since the restoration of civil rule in 1999.
Leaders of the APC, led by Caretaker Committee Chairman and Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni’s visit to former President Goodluck Joanthan has also generated speculations that the ruling party might be wooing Jonathan to defect and become its standard bearer in 2023 because of the attraction that he is not eligible to spend more than one term if he is re-elected.
Fashola told reporters covering the APC, during their visit to his office: “The truth is that what makes an agreement spectacular is the honour in which it is made, not whether it is written. If it was written, there would be no court cases of breach of contract because it’s a document that is written and signed that go to court.
“The private agreement you make with your brother and sister should not be breached. It must be honoured.”
He acknowledged that zoning is not in the party’s constitution, insiting that the party leaders had agreement on zoning when the party was being formed.
He likened political parties to clubs “where you write agreements just like a social club and we can decide that it is the youngest person who will be the chairman of the club or we can decide that it is the oldest person or the next female or the next male. That is the matter of agreement among people.”
There is no categorical provision for presidential zoning in the APC Constitution. The nearest to zoning is implied in Article 20 which states: ‘Election and Appointments (iv) Criteria for Nomination (6); it states that: “All such rules, regulations and guidelines shall take into consideration and uphold the principle of federal character, gender balance, geo-political spread and rotation of office, to as much as possible, ensure balance within the constituency covered.”
Fashola said the PDP is no match for the APC in future elections.
He said: “Our opponents (PDP) have to think better than us in order to defeat us. Right now, they are not doing that. When it’s election time, they should come and meet us.
“Some governors have joined us, from where we think we could not get voters before now. To retain power in 2023, certainly, if we keep our promises, people will vote for us. It is that simple, that is politics.
“If you do what you said you will do, even if you don’t do 100 per cent and they see that you are making progress, they will even want you to finish what you started.”
Fashola urged party members to support the Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Committee (CECPC), which he described as a product of necessity.
He noted that the leadership crisis that engulfed the party paved the way for the caretaker committee.
“It was a crisis that led us to have a caretaker committee. We must respect the caretaker committee. Let it do its job. Those of us who didn’t contest party positions, let’s focus on our jobs too and stop getting in each other’s way.
“Let’s be ready to support one another. Every support that the caretaker committee requires, we will provide, if it is within our means to do so. At the end of the day, we are governed by rules,” he said.