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2023: El-Rufai’s power-shift to South comment raises dust

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2023: VON boss lauds El-Rufai over support for rotational presidency
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai

…Knocks, kudos trail comment, George, Babtope, Ikokwu, Nkanga, Sen, Izuogu, Odumakin, others speak

By Clifford Ndujihe, Dayo Johnson, Anayo Okoli, Dapo Akinrefon, Jimitota Onoyume, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Rotimi Ojomoyela, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Chinonso Alozie, James Ogunnaike, Shina Abubakar, & Adeola Badru

THE polity was awash with mixed views over the comments of Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, that the South should produce the president in 2023 after President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight year reign.

Backing power shift to the South in 2023, el-Rufai, had on Monday, said: “The general political consensus in Nigeria is that the pesidency should rotate between the North and the South. It is not written but everyone understands it. In some of the parties, like the PDP, it is even written down in their constitution but it was breached in 2015. I think that every politician of honour should understand and abide by that consensus except there is an extenuating circumstance compelling it to be set aside. What could this be?

In separate chats with Vanguard, yesterday, political leaders were divided on the comment. While some backed el-Rufai, others criticised him.

Among those who spoke on the issue were Chief Olabode George, Chief Guy Ikokwu,  Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, retd, Chief Ebenezer Babtope, Dr Ezekiel Izuogu, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, Senator Ayo Arise, Professor Yima Sen,  Hon. Sikirulahi Ogundele,  Chief Ozoh Anaekwe,  Chief Kole Omololu,  Professor Soji Adejumo, Prince Gboyega Famodun, and Pastor Tunji Popoola.

EL-Rufai should focus on restructuring – PANDEF Chair

National Chairman of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, retd asked el-Rufai  to focus on restructuring of the country, which he said is the most important thing needed to move the country forward.

“My reaction to what he said is that restructuring is what is most important for our country now. Instead of Governor El-Rufai donating President he should focus on restructuring. We should talk of a  President that will be able to deliver the dividends of democracy under a true Nigerian federalism,“ he said.

Restructuring is the key – Ikokwu

An elder of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and Second Republic Politician, Chief Guy Ikokwu, shared Nkanga’s views. He said: ”Since el-Rufai has proposed restructuring in the manifesto of the APC since 2015, he should move with the National Assembly, which is trying to amend the constitution. Once the constitution is amended in a restructured manner for good governance the president will not be the major issue any more. We in the South are interested in restructuring. We are in a unitary system of government that is not working. The insecurity we have today is because of the unitary constitution. The 1999 Constitution should be abrogated in the next two months and a conference of ethnic nationalities held to decide the way forward.”

El-Rufai can’t speak for PDP – Babatope

In his reaction, former Minister of Transport in the Second Republic, Chief Ebenezer Babatope said the Kaduna State governor cannot speak for the PDP.

READ ALSO: Buhari’s second term: Our expectations – Adebanjo, Ikokwu, Okorie

He, however, said that the PDP will present a credible candidate when the time for electioneering campaigns in 2023 picks up. He said: “He (el-Rufai) can only speak for his party the APC, he cannot speak for the PDP. It is not for me to pass comments on what el-Rufai or the APC has said. All I can say is that we, of the PDP, will give the country a candidate that will win the presidential election.”

I agree with him — Bode George

However, former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Bode George, backed el-Rufai saying it will bring about fairness in the country. George said: “I agree with him. If the North has spent eight years, automatically, it should come down to the South. That will be fair to anybody. So, I agree with him.”

I hope it’s not for personal interest – Sen

On his part, Director General of the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, Professor Yima Sen, said: “I saw the newspaper report then I saw his second report in social media and then I found the comment on it very interesting. Somebody said maybe, he wants to be somebody’s vice. Anyway, most seriously, I hope we can get to a point in Nigeria where people will stop talking about zoning and rotation. I hope that can happen. When I spoke to your newspaper a few months ago, I said that Nigerians have to agree how to exit from this rotation and zoning arrangement.

It seems that it is more of a PDP policy than it is of an APC, talking about two major political parties in Nigeria. I hope that beyond partisan politics that Nigerians can come to appreciate the fact that the president should actually come from anywhere.

“But when you say that people who have not benefited from the zoning arrangements will say that’s not fair. That’s saying that maybe it should be our turn and you are now saying it should be jettisoned. I think we need to have some form of consensus on how we exit the zoning arrangements.

“I am uncomfortable with this whole idea of pigeon-holing zones or regions for the president to emerge.

”My reaction to that is that well, when a statement is so specific, I like to imagine that there are no ulterior motives.”

Put more effort, Izuogu enjoins el-Rufai

In his reaction,Engineer Eziekel Izuogu advised Governor el-Rufai to put more effort in actualizing their plan of zoning the presidency to the South, adding that the Igbo have greater chances to clinch the position.

His words: “I congratulate Governor el-Rufai, for making that statement. The nation can only have peace if all nationalities are treated equally and fairly. The Igbo stand a very good chance of presenting a president.

“I am not surprised that El-Rufai is saying that.

“I sincerely congratulate them and they should continue to say the right thing so that Nigeria can remain one. I want them to work on that not only saying it.”

Ohanaeze welcomes comment

Ohanaeze Ndigbo who welcomes the position of Governor El-Rufai on power shift to the South  said it should go to the South-East.

Insisting that it has always been its position, Ohanaeze, through its Publicity Secretary, Prince Uche Achi-Ogbaga said:

“In the spirit of truth and good conscience, it is very apt to depose, in clear terms, that the South-East should be given every support and encouragement.”

It’s natural after eight years for the North – Odumakin

Spokesperson of the Pan Yoruba Socio- Political Group, Afenifere, Mr.  Yinka Odumakin said: “It is the natural thing after eight years in the North. Any equitable minded-person should not have problem with that. But I am not comfortable with an interested aspirant like El-Rufai with my understanding of taqqiya (deception).

“And when you read him in between the lines you will see where he said ‘after eight years of Buhari, Power should come to the South except there is some extenuating circumstance.’ Who does not know how to put meat in the mouth and make it disappear? Both the yam and the knife are in their hands to make the exception.

Vanguard

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