The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, yesterday said the zoning agreement at the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2015 elections should be respected in 2023.
Fashola, a former governor of Lagos State made the statement yesterday at a time reports that some of the chieftains of the APC were allegedly plotting to thwart the arrangement for power shift between North and South, intending to retain the presidency in the North on the expiration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term.
The latest crisis rocking the ruling party, according to party sources was as a result of the quest by respective blocs to grab the soul of the party ahead of 2023 politicking.
The minister in an interactive session with newsmen at his ministry in Abuja, yesterday, appealed to leaders of the party to respect the gentleman agreement reached in 2015 on zoning.
It would be recalled that the APC was formed in 2013 following the merger of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and new PDP.
Fashola while responding to a question on zoning, said, “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 is a document that is written and signed that go to court. But the private agreement you make with your brother and sister should not be breached, it must be honoured.
“All political parties are 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 between people,” he said.
On whether he has 2023 presidential or vice-presidential ambition, Fashola said, “I belong to a party, the APC, and I am committed to good governance because I think the best politics is good governance.
“The beauty of it for me is the opportunity it gives to impact peoples’ lives. We have elections only once in four years, but we have a responsibility to provide good governance every day and that’s the culture,” he said.
The minister also said the APC would retain the presidency in 2023 if it delivered on its campaign promises to Nigerians.
“To retain power in 2023, certainly if we keep our promises, is that simple. That’s politics. If you do what you said you will do even if you don’t do it 100% and they see that you are making progress, they will even want you to finish what you started.
“Our opposition has to think well than us to defeat us; right now they are not doing that. When it’s election time they should come and meet us,” he said.
He appealed to APC stalwarts to give members of the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee the needed support to enable them to succeed on their mandate.
“If there is a crisis that has now led us to have a caretaker committee, we must also respect the committee, let it do its job.
“Those of us who didn’t contest to hold party offices let’s focus on our jobs too and stop bashing in each other’s room. So, every support that the Caretaker Committee requires we will provide if it’s within our reach to do so.
“So let’s support them to achieve the immediate mandate of their responsibility and they brought some stability. At least, we won an election,” he said.
Contacted, a chieftain of the party who was part of the formation of the APC said there was an understanding that the presidency should rotate between the North and the South.
The party stalwart who does not want to be named, said, “I think at that time there was an understanding that the presidency would be produced by the North and later South and Southwest in particular.
“This is something I need to check, there are different models in parties. There were private discussions during the negotiation for the merger between ACN, CPC and new PDP before APC was born.
“It could be at that time that discussion like who would produce the president, chairman and what would happen next. So, I need to make a further check. I believe it not a signed agreement per se. I would like to go back from the convention of ACN, CPC and ANPP,” he said.
There was no official comment from the APC yesterday, but a senior official said considering so many issues at the moment, it was too early to start talking about who gets what.
“Just like what Fashola said, I think the most important thing for now is for all members and leaders of the APC to support the Mai Mala committee to succeed in its onerous task of uniting the party. Members of the committee should be encouraged to go ahead with membership registration and bringing back members that left including new people.
“By the time we put our house together and with the support of our members, leaders and elders of the party would unravel the zoning formula that will be acceptable to all Nigerians,” he said.