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By Celestine Okafor (Editor-in-Chief)

A pan-Nigerian political group known as the Indigenous People of Nigeria (IPN), has come down very hard on the former governor of Niger State and a chieftain of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Babangida Aliyu, for claiming that the party had already agreed to zone the 2023 Presidential Slot to northern Nigeria.

The group in a swift reaction to media reports on Babangida Aliyu's alleged declaration at the weekend described such claims as apparent falsehood, a clever attempt to blackmail the PDP into pandering to political interests against the existing power rotation arrangements, and also a ploy to sow the seed of injustice and disunity within the PDP and Nigeria in general.

The group in a statement at the weekend by its Convener, Mazi Nnamdi Iroegbu, dismissed Dr. Aliyu's position as untenable, an injustice that may polarise the PDP and rub the party any chance of clinching the presidency in 2023. They alleged that Babangida Aliyu is a "bigot" who has a strong aversion for the people of Southern Nigeria.

IPN however argued that since the north is currently holding the presidential power since 2015 under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which is expected to constitutionally terminate after eight years in May 2023, it would amount to a repudiation of the zoning principle between the North and South of Nigeria which, according to them, has helped to stabilize the country and democracy since 1999.

The group however maintains that the former Niger state governor has no locus standi to speak for the PDP since, according to them, Babangida Aliyu is neither the spokesman of the party nor a member of the PDP's Zoning Committee.

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The IPN statement reads: "Our attention has been drawn to a viral but provocative statement by a former Governor of Niger state and self-styled Chief Servant, Alhaji Babangida Aliyu, that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has agreed to zone its presidential ticket to the northern part of Nigeria.

"Alhaji Aliyu, to those that may be unaware of his character and personality, is notorious for bigotry, falsehood, treachery and divisiveness even during his infamous eight years as Governor of Niger state. This man, who by his status as a former governor and age ought to act Statesmanlike, has over the years displayed his hatred for the people of Southern Nigeria and Peoples Democratic Party.

"This was a man that misused the apparatchiks of his office as Governor to work against his Party’s Presidential Candidate in 2015 election, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, simply because of his preference for the region (origin) and religious faith regrettably bringing to power an unpopular failure and fellow bigot, Muhammadu Buhari of then opposition APC.

"For the avoidance of doubt, Alhaji Aliyu is neither the Spokesman of PDP nor a member of the Party’s Zoning Committee, and thus, unqualified to speak for the Party on Zoning or in any capacity whatsoever. Therefore, it is uncharitable of him to make a claim that is capable of disrupting the relative peace being experienced in the PDP.

"While we commend the Party for debunking his claim, we also enjoin the Party to reprimand him and ensure that such display of nepotism doesn’t recur in future, be it from him or any other person.

"More so, Alhaji Aliyu has lost every credibility to qualify as a leader in Nigeria under any guise, and must not be seen in the capacity of a leader nor rewarded with any leadership role.

"We state unequivocally, that for the love of the country and the interest of equity, fairness, and justice, the PDP is morally and patriotically bound to field a Presidential Candidate from the Southern part of the country to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 being that he (Buhari) hails from Northern Nigeria". NNL

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