•Say no justification for insistence on Southern presidency
•North has four more years to rule to equal the south — Sen Rowland Owie
•No level of intimidation will make power return to South — Waiya
•Don’t bully Northern Nigeria, Sani warns Clark, Adebanjo, others
By Henry Umoru; Dirisu Yakubu; Ibrahim HassanWuyo & Bashir Bello
As skeletal preparations begin for the processes leading to the 2023 Presidential election, eminent leaders, under the aegis of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, rose from a meeting recently in Abuja demanding 2023 presidential slot to be zoned to the South in the interest of united Nigeria saying without that, there is no Nigeria.
In its communique signed by Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark; Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of Afenifere; Prof George Obiozor, President General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide; Dr Pogu Bitrus, National President, Middle Belt Forum and Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, National Chairman, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, the forum stated that “the Northern part of the country would have fully enjoyed the Office of the Presidency, for the full statutory period of eight years by 2023, hence, should yield to the South.”
It also called on “the All Progressives Congress, APC, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and other political parties to zone the Presidency in 2023 to the South, at the next election.”
The group further “enjoined political stakeholders from the South not to be lured into the unpatriotic step of seeking such other positions as national chairmen and Vice President of the main political parties, but join forces to demand and ensure that the Presidency moves to the South in 2023.”
Some northern leaders have however reacted to the demand of their southern counterparts insisting that there was no level of threat or intimidation that would make the political power to return to the South.
The northern leaders said although they believed the South had competent people who can be the next President, the leaders of the Southern and Middle belt regions must note that they cannot get the Presidential seat by threatening the north with secession
Dividing Nigeria more difficult than keeping it unitedb —Yakassai
Reacting to the communique by the Southern and Middle belt leaders, a former presidential aide, Alhaji Salisu Yakassai, argued that no region in Nigeria can attain the Presidency without the support of others. Consequently, he advised those who want to be President to hit the road and convince all people that they mean well for them. He, however, explained that the politicians and tribal leaders resort to threats because of the fault-lines in Nigeria’s democracy which make votes seem not to count. Yakassai blamed the failure of leadership, especially at the centre, for the decline of nationalism and embrace of parochialism among the people.
He added, “I am a Nigerian to the core, and so, our brothers and sisters all over the country are welcome to air their views, because we are in a democracy. However, the collective aim should be to build our country. Yes, we are practising democracy and we acknowledge that there are fault lines in it, because votes appear not to count. That in itself creates frustration.
“So, the demand by the Southern and Middle belt leaders which was capped with a threat may not be far from the frustration that votes do not count in this country. However, it is laughable that politicians and tribal leaders should be making such threats in the 21st century. Well, even the presidency has said the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable but we say everything is negotiable. But if our brothers in the South and Middle belt regions rather than negotiating are threatening secession, then their demands won’t work. No doubts, there are daunting challenges in the country. Because the government appears not to be working, citizens are going micro day-by-day and embracing parochialism. Leadership is responsible for the decline of nationalism in the country today. However, all leaders must note that dividing Nigeria is much more difficult than keeping the country united.”
No justification for insistence on Southern presidency — Sani
Anthony Sani, immediate past secretary general of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF argued that “there is no national consensus on politics of identity symbolized by rotation of the Presidency which is binding on political parties.”
According to him, “politics of zoning is still at the level of political parties which use it to design their winning game plans. Even within political parties, we still have party members who insist on their constitutional right to contest and refuse to pander to directives by their political parties and go ahead to contest during party primaries. Multi-party democracy thrives on majority votes and contest of ideas and reasons. It is never a bull fight. Therefore, no group should resort to threat and intimidation of the north as if the north is the only region that needs one united whole Nigeria and the south does not. The south needs one united Nigeria more than the north needs it and that accounts for why millions of Southerners settle and invest in billions of naira in the north than northerners do in the south.
“The south has ruled for 13 years and the north has ruled for 11 years under the nascent democracy from 1999 to 2023. I therefore do not see the basis of hue and cry about where the President comes from in 2023. There is no justification for any insistence that the president must come from the South as condition for the nation to remain one and United. More so that the law makes it impossible for the President to emerge in our democracy with the support of one region alone. That is to say, a President must garner not only majority vote but also at least 25 per cent of votes in each of at least 24 of the 36 states. The North does not have 24 states.
“As far as I know, multiparty democracy is expected to unite the country precisely because political parties crisscross the country through campaigns by breaking barriers and building bridges across ethnic, religious and regional aisles. These processes have greater capacity to bring about lasting unity of the nation than politics of fiat zoning
No serious country practices zoning or rotation—Gbenga Hashim
Mr.Gbenga Hashim, a former Presidential candidate in the 2019 general election, said there is no serious country in the world with executive presidency that practices zoning or rotation.
According to him,”the last country that attempted it was Yugoslavia which is now no more. Such move in Rwanda led to ethnic cleansing. Rwanda is now a stable nation because the President was chosen by merit not on where you come from. The south has not been disadvantaged in any way in this Republic without the rotatory clause. Since 1999 Southerners have been president in Nigeria for 13 years and Northerners 8 years. Is it rotation of power that is priority now or decentralisation of Power that will ensure the efficient management of our diversity. Bringing many things to the table has the potential to create confusion and more division. I am against anything that will further divide Nigeria. Rotational Presidency is against the principle of universal adult suffrage. Any one who really wants to be taken seriously as a democrat can not be advocating that,” he said.
It’s an empty threat that will not work —Ibrahim Waiya
In his own submission, the President, Kano Civil Society Forum, Ibrahim Waiya said that no level of threat or intimidation by the south will make power return to the region in 2023. Waiya described the threat as empty which will not work.
According to him, “This is an empty threat which will not work especially in this era of modern political civilization. Democracy is a game of number where mandate is peacefully and lawfully secured through voluntary participation of citizens and the political process is guided by the laid down rules of engagement and effected through the conduct of a periodic elections, to ensure the institutionalization of a legitimate leadership in the country. There is no genuine practice of democracy any where in the World where transfer of political leadership to a particular zone or sections of a country is effected through violence and political blackmail or under any arranged deal, as this negates the values and best practices of democratic governance.
“The game of democracy is about citizens decision which is determined by popular and majority votes cast at the polling units. The Nigeria democratic leadership could be achieved by any zone through lobbying, advocacy and mutual understanding with other regions, based on the principles of political bargaining. As far as Nigeria is concerned there is no superior or inferior citizens or regions. We are all equal with equal political opportunities to contest for any political position in the country, however the era for political leadership to be zoned or reserved for any region, is over. I will therefore advise them to work in synergy with other regions to lobby for any political position they may need against the 2021, however the use of intimidation, condemnation ahead of the 2023 will not work”.
North has four more years to rule to equal the south—Sen Rowland Owie
Former Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Rowland Owie said there can be no peace in a country where there is absence of equity, justice and fairness. According to Owie, for justice and peace to reign, the north have another two years of Presidency after President Muhammadu Buhari in order to equal the period the south has occupied the position.
Senator Owie said, “I have always said it that where there is no justice, there cannot be peace. In 1999, we started the rotation, both candidates were from the South West, Obasanjo lost his unit, ward, local government and zone, but defeated Olu Falae. It showed that we would have been a united nation, a great nation. All agreements were reached. Eight years after, Goodluck Jonathan came because Musa Yar’ Adua died and completed the remaining part of Yar’Adua’s government. If we had adopted that rotation, we would not have been where we are today.
So if you calculate the number of years the south has taken in the presidency, it is 14 years, 140 days. And after Buhari ends his regime in 2023, the north will have four years to complete their own side to make it even. Let the North finish it and thereafter leave it open. Let us all source for a person from the north who will complete their tenure and save Nigeria from shame and disgrace. By the grace of God, Nigeria will rise again after this dark period. Don’t lure us into what is not right. So I appeal to my elders of the South South, PANDEF, on this issue of Presidency, let the North finish their own and we know that we have completed it at that point, then let everybody start contesting without any grudge.”
No zone deserves presidency more than North Central—Bitrus Paul
Reacting to the position of SMBLF, the North Central Patriots, NCP however said no geo-political zone deserves the Presidency in 2023 than the North Central.
The group through its President, Bitrus Paul, maintained that the South-West and South-South had governed the country in the persons of Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan respectively in the current democratic epoch. NCP further explained that South has done 14 years while the North would have done ten years at the expiration of the Buhari’s tenure in 2023. It vowed not to settle for anything less, but for the main position of the Presidency. It called on SMBLF to take a trip down historical lane before taking a stand on the 2023 Presidency.
Joining the conversation, the Young Progressives Party, YPP, has thrown its weight behind the North Central, saying “the zone should be supported to produce Nigeria’s next President come 2023″.
Pioneer chairman of the party, Adeno Sabo Adeno said, “as a bonafide son of the North-Central region, I want to call on my political party YPP, to seek the opportunity of producing her first President in Nigeria from the North Central region. North-Central is blessed with experienced and outstanding leaders who have the needed requisite ability to heal our country. Hence, the PDP and APC are asked to consider zoning 2023 Presidential tickets to the North-Central region”.