Chief Raymond Dokpesi, business mogul and former national chairmanship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Thursday said there is no way his party can win the 2023 presidential election if it presents a candidate from the Southern part of the country as its flagbearer.
Speaking exclusively with Daily Independent in Abuja on the controversy over the zoning of the presidential ticket between the Northern and Southern part of the country, Dokpesi said the PDP must get its act right if it is serious about wresting power from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2023.
He said PDP members who are canvassing the zoning of the ticket to the South are only doing so because they want to copy the APC whose members are rooting for a zoning of the ticket to the South after the completion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure in 2023.
Dokpesi said the Northerners have not had a fair share of the presidency since return of democratic governance of the country in 1999.
He said, “We are all Nigerians and there is no need for us to keep deceiving ourselves at this point in time. At the age of 70 and with my experience in organising campaigns in this country, I can tell you that unless there is a candidate from the North, in my own considered opinion, the PDP will not stand a chance of winning the election.
“On the ambition of those from the South who are today asking for the presidency to be zoned to the South, I can say that they are only echoing what prevails in the APC. In APC, President Muhammadu Buhari has done eight years, so it is imperative on APC to cede the presidency to the South.
“In the case of PDP, let us look at it honestly. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo from the South-West did eight years; Goodluck Jonathan from the South-South also did six years. That made a total of 14 years.
“On the other hand, Umaru Yar’Adua from the North did three years, so there is an imbalance of 11 years. If in 2019, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar had not been rigged out of that election, he would have come back in 2023 to say that he wants to do a second term. And would anybody have stood on his way? No!
“So, for the PDP, the presidential candidate must come from the North in 2023. People should exercise patience because it will still come back to the South”.
Also speaking on the clamour for Igbo presidency, Dokpesi said while he believes that it is fair that the South- East should produce the president as it is the only Southern zone not to have done so since 1999, the South-East cannot win if it gets the presidential ticket at this time.
“I am a very strong advocate that the Igbos should be given an opportunity to be president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“This is because all the other parts of the South already produced the president. Even the South-South has not had a full term yet but the truth of the matter is that the South-East has not done at all.
“So, they should have opportunity to have a shot at it. In that light, I believe justice, fairness and equity should get it but the reality of that is that the South- East cannot win the national elections at this point in time.
“So, we must go for it, obtain it and support whoever is likely to understand the challenges of the South as well as the North, who will unite the country first and foremost; a candidate who will make the sacrifices and understand the people of Nigeria as a whole.
“We need a candidate who has all the criteria that need to be fulfilled to be able to govern effectively. Once we get that person, then the whole of Nigeria should rally round such a person in order to correct this morass we have been thrown into”.
Also speaking on the leadership crisis rocking the PDP, Dokpesi said the governors and elders of the party deserve commendation for the courageous and just manner in which the matter was handled.
“As regards what the PDP did two days ago on the resolution of the internal crisis that came up, I think that was very courageous and visionary. I commend the governors, elders and stakeholders of the PDP for being very clear and just in resolving the issue.
“There was no victor, no vanquished. All the emphasis was on the fact that this party must put its house in order and prepare itself to be able to win 2023 elections and everybody must shelve his personal ambition and put in efforts to ensure that the hopes of Nigerians in the PDP is not dashed.
“We must unite and make sure that the necessary changes that are required are achieved”, he said.