By Andy Esiet, Calabar
Former Senate Leader and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN has faulted current zoning arrangement of the APC saying it is a total waste loading some zones and not strategic to win elections as it is badly skewed.
Speaking in Calabar yesterday, Ndoma-Egba said “I have seen different lists, one saying that the National Secretary was zoned to South-South /South East and in another list it showed that it was zoned to the South West. However, the list purported to have it zoned to the South West is the later in time, so that appears to be the one that everybody assumes is the authentic list. To me, I think that in doing zoning, you must have strategic objectives in mind. You must have objectives of what you want to achieve. It should not just be the simplistic approach or manner of moving offices from one zone to another zone”.
He said in zoning, “you should be more strategic by considering how you can use offices that are very strategic to strengthen zones that are weak. Because at the end of the day, whoever the candidate is, will require winning in those other weak zones or getting at least one quarter of the votes cast in each of those states. So if you don’t have those strategic objectives you may just get lost by thinking that you simply moved the office from one zone to another because it was in that zone. I have gone through the purported authentic zoning list, I don’t see anything strategic. I have gone through the two lists; there is nothing strategic about them. It doesn’t portray any election winning strategy. It’s rather the simple approach of moving offices from one zone to the other”.
To further buttress his point, Ndoma-Egba who was the Secretary of the APC 2018 convention stated, “the position of National Secretary is very strategic. You say you are taking it to the South West; the South West is already very strong to deliver for APC, it is perhaps the strongest zone for APC perhaps, in addition to the north. The North and the south west are the strongest parts with support for the APC. So looking at the south west where the national secretary is being purportedly zoned to, you already have a vice president from the zone, you have the Speaker of the House of Reps; you have five governors, and then you have the Jagaban himself who is more than a zone, so the south west is already satiated with strength that can deliver for the APC,
“So that strategic position of National Secretary adds nothing to them, it’s like pouring a cup of water into a river. Now you have other zones that are wobbling and you need to secure either a majority win or a percentage win. For instance, the South East has two governors, in Ebonyi and Imo states. Ebonyi governor is a second term governor that is outgoing. Imo state is a first term governor and has an incumbency advantage as we go into the 2023 election. So in the South East you can say the party has a toe-hold, not yet a foot hold, just a toe-hold.
“Then you come to the South-South, the only state with any toe-hold in the South-South for the APC is Cross River State. But we recently had the Akpabuyo State constituency re-election and the Ogoja –Yala Federal constituency re- election, the figures put together showed a very narrow margin of the winning APC. So it means if we must retain Cross River State, you need to reinforce and strengthen the state with a strategic position. Ordinarily if you ask me of the strategic objectives with the position of a Secretary, I would advise it be given to the South East or the South South. But like I said, the South East has a first term governor who has the incumbency advantage going into the 2023 elections in which he would be re-elected. The South South doesn’t have such an advantage, the only APC Governor is going into his final term; so giving it to the South-South and strengthening the zone strategically. So as far as I am concerned, giving it to the south west is like pouring a glass of water into the ocean. It’s a total waste. So in my view, the zoning arrangement is not strategic enough”
On the seeming crisis at the national level of the party, he said, “I acknowledge that it exists but it’s a seasonal thing. After the convention it will all pass away. Politicians have answers to every crisis. They generate the crisis and resolve the crisis themselves. I have no doubt in my mind that it will be resolved and we will have a successful convention on the 26th of March. I was secretary of the 2018 convention of the party, and from what I see, there is everything needed to hold the convention on the 26th of March.
I just hope that the NEC meeting of the party that will be held in a few days will be able to think more deeply about the need for strategic zoning. In all I believe the convention will hold successfully despite the disagreements and the counter agitation. So there is no cause for alarm”.