Former Nigeria’s youth and sports minister, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja has said that he wants the chairmanship race of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, thrown up not just to the South West but to all the Southern states.
In an interview with Nigerian Tribune, Adedoja, who is one of the several aspirants jostling to become the boss of the PDP, explained that “Well, personally, as a respected member of the party, I don’t want to jump the gun because nobody has announced that any position has been zoned to anywhere. There hasn’t been anything official from the party and I want to go by what is official. But I want you to know that in terms of permutations, in terms of arrangements, in terms of what is on ground, that there is every likelihood from all indications, from body language from political arrangements, political permutations that the national chairman will be zoned to the south. If it is zoned to the south, it is natural that the party has made that right decision because the party wants to win election. And if it goes to the south, naturally, we know that from history that the South West had never produced the national chairman. But that doesn’t mean.”
He continued: “If by the wisdom of the party, the party believes that it should go to the south, anybody interested there should go and compete for the position. That is my own position. Go round the country and test yourself. If a position is zoned to the south and you believe you are qualified, eminently qualified, go to the 36 states of the federation and convince them. If I am from the South West, I am able to convince them that I am from Oyo State, I am from the South West, they should come to me for two reasons, I will say they should come to me for two reasons. One, it should come to me as Professor Adedoja that is qualified, I should occupy the position from the South West because South West is in the south, I should also occupy that position because I have fulfilled the constitutional requirement of the party because it is zoned to the south.
“But I tell you, we have to be very serious about this position in this country. If the position goes to the South West and it is announced blanket just for South West, there is a possibility that I may not even go to the South or South East to canvass for votes. This is a national position. Anybody that aspires to that position should be encouraged to see it as a national position in terms of political calculations. Because, first of all, we want to get the best from any of the zones of this country. And remember, naturally, without prejudice to the constitution that will be approved because there is a proposal for two national deputy chairmen, when the proposal is ratified, it is going to come with two deputy national chairmen, one from the north, one for the south. So, if a position of the chairman is zoned to the south and the deputy chairman is in the south, it is left to the discretion of the leaders in the south to say “look, in order to rationalise this, this will go to this.” And we also have to be very careful in terms of zoning and sub-zoning because we want the best in that zone.
“I’ll be happy if this position is zoned to the south, let anybody in the South go and compete for the position if you are sure of yourself. It is the people that will determine that this position is desired by the South West because it has not had it. But you need to convince people. You don’t get it on a platter of gold. So, you need to convince people. Everybody knows.
“Even at the national convention, I want to assure you that it is not possible, it is going to be a Herculean task for any delegate to vote a national chairman that is outside South West. But it is open. Let people go out and compete. Personally, that is my position and with this, also, whenever, it is zoned, I feel very qualified to contest and I am going to contest for the position.”
On what qualities he is bringing into the race, he said: “PDP at this level has been involved in a lot of scheming, a lot of challenges, a lot of problems and I have never been part of the problems of PDP. PDP requires a person that is visionary, that is energetic, that has not been involved in…all the places I have worked in the public service, as a teacher, as an administrator, as an academic, as a scholar, I have not been found wanting in terms of responsibilities. And I believe that the PDP as political party in order to reposition itself, will require a leader that is accepted and acceptable in all parts of Nigeria and that is where I stand out. I am from Ibadan, I am from Oyo State, but I have lived substantial part of my life in northern Nigeria, substantial part of my life in the South South, particularly in Delta State where I schooled for four years. So, I see myself as a kind of new breed, as a bridge builder that the party needs at this time. Even when I have been a member of the party for years, I have not been known to violate the party’s constitution. I have been a party person. I have been a team leader in the party and I have very good grass root support. So, that’s why I see myself qualified to occupy that position.”