…Core North not ready to cede power —Source
…North may produce APC, PDP candidates
…North is worse off because of zoning — Suswam
…Igbo group storms Abuja, rallies Nigerians for South-East
…PDP must avoid self-immolation over zoning —Ekpotu
By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor
AHEAD of the 2023 presidential election, northern leaders are divided over the clamour for a power shift to the South.
While some northern leaders want the power to return to the South after President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term and are spearheading the quest of some southern presidential aspirants, some northerners, especially the Core North, still want the region to retain power, a top politician from the North told Vanguard, weekend.
As it is, the North may produce the presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC; Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; and some of the top parties, a development that may hurt the chance of the South producing Buhari’s successor.
Currently, most of the presidential aspirants in both the APC and PDP are from the South. While some northern aspirants are working on a consensus, the southern aspirants are not seriously looking in that direction. With fewer northern aspirants, a division of southern votes at the presidential primaries could throw up northern candidates in both the APC and PDP.
Of the 7,747 delegates expected at the APC presidential primaries, 4,414 are from the North, while 3,333 are from the South. The zonal breakdown is as follows: North West-1, 924 delegates; South West-1,568; North Central – 1,278; North-East – 1, 212; South-East-838; and South-South 927 delegates.
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Why Core North is not ready to cede power to South
Speaking on power shift, a top northern politician told Vanguard that the North has 70 per cent of the votes and would not give it to candidates who don’t understand the problem of the North and regard northerners as idiots.
His words: “Many southerners don’t understand the problems of the North. They are reading the political template and barometer wrongly and believe that power is heading South in 2023 and when it does not they will be crying blue murder.
“For us in the North, the issue is security, security and security. We can’t go to the farm. Villages are attacked by bandits and many people are killed on a daily basis. We want that to be tackled.
“If the atmosphere is not secure, you can’t do anything. For the South, the issue is restructuring, devolution of power and stopping open grazing. They don’t feel the pain of the North.
“Next election can’t be approached the way 2015 and 2019 polls were approached. It is not about the ambition of anybody now, it is about the survival of the country. The army we have now is not the army that went to Sierra Leone and Liberia.
“Most of the soldiers have not fought any war all their lives. The bandits carry AK-47s and go to the barracks bare-footed and sack soldiers. It is about the survival of the country now.
“War-chest and deep pocket will not determine 2023. The Alhaji Shehu Shagari 1979 example will be replayed and the 2023 presidency will not be for sale.
“70 per cent of the votes will come from the North. Northerners will not give the votes to somebody that considers them idiots.
“The North is not ready for rotation. They will rally around to present a candidate that is acceptable to the North and the candidate will beat any southern candidate. APC will present a consensus candidate that will be acceptable. “The northerner will be acceptable to the South. The sentiments of the North is not about zoning or power shift.
“This election is not one the candidate will win in every region. It will be a tight race. The candidate will win in four regions. Nigeria is badly fractured and disunited. It is after the election that rebuilding will start.
“The APC and PDP don’t have an idea of what problems are. The candidate’s personality will shape the outcome of the election. We pray that the next president won’t be worse than President Buhari.”
Battle for APC ticket
In the race for the APC tickets are Third Republic Senator and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (70, South-West), Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (65, South-West); former Imo State Governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha (59, South-East); Businessman, Reverend Moses Ayom, (53, North-Central); and Ebonyi State Governor, Engr Dave Umahi (58, South-East); and Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim (56, North-West).
Others are Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello (48, North-Central); former Abia State Governor and Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (61, South-East); Transportation Minister and former Governor of Rivers State, Mr Rotimi Amaechi (56, South-South); Businessman, Ihechukwu Dallas Chima (40, South-East); and founder of Latter Rain Assembly, Dr Tunde Bakare (66, South-West).
Those seeking a PDP ticket
Those angling for the PDP ticket include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (75, North-East); former Senate President and Kwara State Governor, Dr Bukola Saraki (59, North-Central); Rivers State Governor and former Minister of State for Education, Mr Nyesom Wike (58, South-South); Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel (55, South-South); Sokoto State Governor, chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (56, North-West); Bauchi State Governor and former FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed (63, North-East).
In the race also are former Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose (62, South-West); former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Muhammed Hayatu-Deen; former Senate President and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim (61, South-East); former Governor of Anambra State and 2019 Vice Presidential Candidate of the PDP, Mr Peter Obi (60, South-East);
Others are veteran journalist and Publisher, Mr Dele Momodu (61, South-South); former President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Mazi Sam Ohuabun-wa (72, South-East); and Dr Nwachukwu Anakwenze (70, South-East).
North is worse off because of zoning— Suswam
However, former governor of Benue State and Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Senator Gabriel Suswam, pooh-poohed northerners, who are insisting on retaining power.
Suswam, who is the chairman of the presidential campaign team of Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, also kicked against zoning and consensus, arguing that what Nigeria needed now was a president who understood its problems and had the demonstrable capacity to solve them.
Told that his candidate, Udom Emmanuel’s chances might be affected by the emergence of a consensus candidate and the unwillingness of the North for power-shift, he said: The issue is the country now is not consensus. What consensus are you talking about? Consensus without merit or capacity? Consensus should be about capacity and merit.
“In the North, the Hausa word for zoning or our own is namu. Today, the North is worse off because of namu. So, namu is no longer tenable. We have got to a point where the person we need is the one who can safely take us to our destination.
“Talking about the North not being prepared for power-shift, why arrogate power to a certain group of people when the power is with you? Nigeria is the abyss. Nothing is working in the country.
“There is insecurity in all parts of the country. There is no power. We need a man who can create money and turn things around as Udom Emmanuel did in Akwa Ibom with Ibom Air and many industries.”
Igbo group rallies support for S-East
To get other parts of the country to back the South-East to produce the next president, the Greater Nigeria Conference, GNC, will today host a parley of presidential aspirants from the South-East with leaders from other parts of the country in Abuja.
Elder Statesman and Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo and South-South leader, Chief Edwin Clark alongside other eminent Nigerians are expected at the event held at the International Conference Centre ICC, Abuja. The GNC is led by a former Governor of Enugu State, Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo, Senator Victor Umeh and Senator Chris Anyanwu among other Igbo patriots at home and in the Diaspora
In a statement by Collins Steve Ugwu, the GNC said that the conference is organized as a pan Nigerian dialogue by the non-partisan ‘Nzuko Umunna’, a global Igbo Think Tank and “is dedicated towards awakening the best ethnic and political fraternities of Nigerians to appreciate the binding need for accommodation and sacrifice, in supporting a Nigerian President from the South-East zone of Nigeria come 2023 elections.”
PDP must avoid self-immolation —Ekpotu
Meanwhile, former Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State and chieftain of the PDP, Engr Patrick Ekpotu, has warned that the party risks ‘avoidable self-immolation’ if the misgivings threw up by zoning/consensus agitations are not amicably and transparently handled.
He said that allowing the issues of zoning to linger and eliciting heated debate a few weeks before the party’s primaries may potentially hurt cohesion and unity of purpose in the party, given the widespread sentiments and inflamed passion over the zoning fiasco, adding that no individual zone alone, without the others, can win the election for the party.
The success, corporate existence and continuing relevance of the PDP, he said, would most likely depend on how the party manages the diverse interests and tendencies within the party in the coming weeks.
Ekpotu stressed that democracy abhors exclusion and any call or move that is not in sync with the principles of inclusivity, which draws life from democracy, is anti-people and anti-progress; and should be jettisoned in the overall interest and success of the party, going forward.
He said in a statement, yesterday that zoning, and consensus, “at this eleventh hour, could be tantamount to the invitation of chaos. It is my honest opinion that it is already late to be talking about zoning or consensus when the party primary is around the corner and about 17 aspirants have already bought nomination forms in our party.”
Although the PDP, in his summation, had made the unwitting mistake of not taking a position about the contentious zoning issue since the conclusion of the last general election, he insisted that the party must quickly rise above this challenge by taking steps that would reassure its faithful.
Most especially, he said, are the presidential aspirants, who are currently working hard, crisscrossing the nation, in search of delegates, adding that they deserve to enjoy an unconditional, conducive environment and level playing ground, in line with democratic principles.
To continue to remain indifferent to the issue, he said, is to encourage new dimensions of greater aberrations such as the one that recently played out in the Northern Presidential Consensus Candidate drama, which according to him, was seemingly conceived to conspire, lockout, and eject some aspirants, including Atiku Abubakar and others, from the presidential race.
Ekpotu further stressed that the PDP does not need self-enabled divisiveness at this moment, when the whole nation is “looking up to it as a viable alternative to the ruling APC, whose administration, according to him, has been disappointing, underwhelming and shockingly in bed with all that is crippling to the nation’s rise to glory.”