Angered by the Nigerian Southern Governors Forum’s insistence that the country’s next president should come from the south of the country, some northern leaders said nothing could prevent a Nigerian from running for the 2023 presidential election.
The governors of the south at their meeting in Enugu last Thursday reaffirmed the position they had taken at their meeting in Asaba, Delta State, earlier in the year.
But some Arewa leaders, who spoke to The Guardian about development, declared the move unconstitutional, saying Nigerians should not allow ethnic or regional considerations to determine who becomes president in the 2023 general election.
They argued that it was the adoption of these parochial parameters as a basis for selection in other areas of the country that delayed Nigeria’s progress.
Former Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) General Secretary Elder Anthony Sani and Arewa Youth for Development and Progress (AYDP) National President Danjuma Sarki, who spoke in Kaduna, said that the call of the governors of the south should not be taken seriously by Nigerians if the country is to move forward after the general elections of 2023.
Speaking in an interview, Sani said, “The constitution allows any Nigerian to aspire to any office. So if southerners aspire to produce the president in 2023 democratically, that is their right as Nigerians. What the constitution did not provide is the rotation of the President of Nigeria by rotation between North and South.
According to the head of the ACF, “in order for the North and the South to come together and produce the president, the constitution provides that the candidate must not only garner majority votes, but must also obtain at least 25 percent of the votes in the country. at least two-thirds of the 36 states and FCT. And because no region has all 24 states, it becomes necessary for political parties and their presidential candidates to travel across the country, breaking down barriers and building bridges in the execution of their winning game plans.
Sani said that “in a way, correct practices of our multiparty democracy can go a long way in uniting the nation in peace and prosperity.”
He added: “The governors of the south are not justified in insisting on producing the president in an undemocratic manner. That is, if they want it to be done in an undemocratic way through affirmative action. But if they want it through our multiparty democracy as provided for in the constitution, then there is no qualms. Especially since under the nascent democracy, the South will have governed for 13 years and the North for 11 years by 2023.
“Either way, I think the president’s rotation and the zoning of public office is a tacit admission of leadership failure to provide fair, just and equitable access to national employment resources,” appointments, projects and major contracts to their constituencies.
“As a result, Nigerians are led to believe that such access to domestic resources should be a turn-based approach. And they long for the politics of identity with a gleeful disregard for the fact that there are multiple lines of demarcation of regions, religions, ethnicity, gender, and generation of young people and adults.
Sani continues: “We have seen such practices supplant the performance identity policy, which has no place at the polls. Note that Ethiopia, which has never been colonized, practices ethnic federalism and is still experiencing problems. Lebanon, which practices a policy of religious divisions with a Christian president, a Sunni prime minister and a Shiite speaker, is never without challenges.
He added: “Nigeria faces challenges that naturally accompany the nation-building process that is underway.
But difficult times should bring national greatness, determined leadership and the best in everyone, and not stir up divisions by promoting the nation’s cleavages along ethnic, religious and regional lines.
“We had better come together and unleash our potential for synergy against collective challenges for the good of all. Our situation is never beyond redemption.
Speaking in a similar vein, AYDP National President Sarki Danjuma said the governors in the south were fighting for their personal interests.
“The resolve of the governors of the South can be seen in the light of the struggle against a regional cause, but I want to tell you that there is no other interest opposed by the governors of the South apart from the personal interest.
“We know there are a lot of these southern governors who want to aspire to the presidency. Governor Umahi has never hidden his interest in aspiring to the presidency of Nigeria. We also have in the PDP someone like Governor Wike. If we look at issues critically, southern governors do not aspire to a southern presidency based on objectivity or rational reasoning; it is loaded with certain selfish interests, ”he said.
Danjuma said that, “given the state of the nation today and how the Buhari administration has beaten Nigeria and pushed us back, I think the current turmoil for the regional presidency is not is not the best idea “.
He added, “For people to limit Nigeria’s presidency to a particular area will not bode well for our country. In fact, we currently need a leader in 2023 who is truly a nationalist who is patriotic and who is able to reposition the country. If we limit the choice of the presidency to one region, it is as if we are going to put the Nigerians in a cage and resist their choice.
For his part, an elderly statesman and founding member of the ACF, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, who spoke in Kano, advised southern governors to employ persuasion in their quest.
Yakasai noted that neither of the country’s two main parties could decide which zone would produce Nigeria’s next president, adding that it was a matter of numbers and persuasion.
He said he has since put all his weight into the quest for the Southern presidency in 2023, but frowned on the path and the way the governors went about it.
“You don’t have common ground on something that isn’t quite your own birthright. You have to resort to broader consultation with other stakeholders to get what you want.
“It is impossible for a group to decide that the presidency should come to an area; it is a question of size, number and understanding. I have seen some governors decide for APC, but I don’t know what their reasons are, ”he added.
Yakasai insisted that in a multi-party democracy, supporters of one or two parties could not dictate who the next president would be.
Another prominent politician in Kano, Alhaji Haruna Musa Fatahi, also called the demand for the presidency to be zoned in the South undemocratic.
Two-time House of Representatives Fatahi insisted the majority should win the vote.
He argued that in a democratic dispensation, “you are not imposing any presidential candidate on anyone.”
“It is against the principles of democracy,” he noted.
He added that zoning is neither in the Nigerian constitution nor in the constitutions of the APC or the PDP, stressing that politics is a numbers game.