Citing principle of fairness, equity and zoning, Dr. Doyin Okupe, the former Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday withdrew from the 2023 presidential race.
Though, Okupe has yet to obtain his Nomination and Expression of Interest forms, he was among the first set of members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that declared their ambition for 2023 Presidency under the party.
Okupe, who announced his decision, at a news conference, in Abeokuta, Ogun State has decided to pitch his tent with the ambition of Obi, a former Governor of Anambra State.
While stating that the leadership of the PDP, was not handling the issue of zoning concerning the party’s presidential ticket well, Okupe said it appeared the party was driving all towards fait accompli.
He said, “The matter has been referred to a committee of 37 members with a member each from every state of the federation and the FCT Abuja. One would have expected that the mandate of this committee would be such that it would discharge its duties and report to the NEC of the party within a maximum of 5-7 days. Sadly, this has not been so.
It is clear to me that those at the helm of affairs of the party are trying to hoodwink those of us aspirants from the South to commit ourselves to obtain the requisite forms before coming up with the original position that ‘every zone can contest the presidency.’
“This position is politically fraudulent, unjust and inequitable.
But as a politician, I have come to accept the ill-defined zoning arrangement, and still forge ahead with my unrepentant call for a rotation of power to the south.”
Stating that he had consulted far and wide with the political stakeholders in his zone, Okupe said his position, was in line with that of Afenifere, who said that presidency must shift to the South-east.
He added: “In aligning myself with the wish of our elders and in the interest of equity and justice, I publicly admit that the 2023 political race must be conceded to the south-east; that is, the Igbos.
“I therefore, here and now proclaim that I am, as I have said publicly several times, withdrawing from the presidential race and I am declaring my support for the best aspirant not only in Igboland, but in Nigeria as a whole.
“I and my supporters within and outside the PDP are teaming up with His Excellency, Peter Obi.
“At the same time, I want to enjoin all other aspirants from the South: Chief Dele Momodu, Senator Pius Anyim, and His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike to come with me and let us team up with Peter Obi. So we can give the South the best possible chance.
For the avoidance of doubt, I am not fanning the embers of division, rather I am by this action lightening the torch of unity by establishing political stability on the pillars of truth and justice upon which the Bible tells us that even the throne of the Almighty God is founded.”
The former aspirant said though, the zoning was alien to Nigeria’s constitution, he noted that the principle, had been the driving force since the advent of the Fourth Republic.