BY ISAIAH BENJAMIN |
Nigerian leaders drawn from the northern and southern parts of the country have bared their minds on the kind of presidential candidate they want in 2023 and the process that should produce him..
While members of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said they will not interfere in the internal affairs of any political party in the selection of its president candidate, they promised to support the flagbearer of the party that fully understands the problems facing the North.
Their southern counterparts under the umbrellas of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and Ohanaeze Ndigbo insisted on power shift to the region and showed encomiums on Governor Bello Masari of Katsina State and his Borno State counterpart Babagana Zulum for supporting power shift to the South in 2023.
But the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) said it would not be carried away by the zoning arrangement being canvassed in some quarters because it does not promote equity and justice in the polity.
The leaders spoke in separate interviews with LEADERSHIP Friday in Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Rivers State and Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
Through its national publicity secretary, Mr Emmanuel Yawe, ACF said it will neither impose a zone or a candidate on any political party because the Nigerian constitution specifies that only political parties can present candidates at elections.
Yawe said: “The ACF will also not interfere with the process of how the political parties arrive at their candidates. We only hope that given the declining quality of leadership, what should be uppermost in the minds of kingmakers in the various political parties should be competence and not sentiments.
“The ACF draws membership from northerners of every political persuasion and affiliation. For us to interfere in the internal affairs of political parties, will amount to biting more than what we can chew. The political parties are many and so are their problems.
“But if the various political parties resolve their internal contradictions, the ACF will subject each of them to scrutiny. We will then throw our weight behind the candidate that understands the problems facing the North and the Nigeria of today.”
To PANDEF’s national publicity secretary, Ken Robinson, Masari and Zulum are true nationalists.
Robinson said, “The position of the two northern governors on power shift to the South is commendable. They have by this shown themselves as true nationalists. Governor Zulum of Borno State, in particular, has repeatedly canvassed that position.
“PANDEF’s position remains that the presidency must rotate to the South in 2023. A northern president is to complete eight years by 2023, and therefore, in the interest of equity, fairness and justice, there has to be a power shift to the South.
“Let us reiterate that whether the person emerges from the South-South, Southeast or Southwest is a different matter entirely. It would be in the best interest of the country’s major political parties not to take this position for granted,” he said.
In the same vein, the chairman of Elders’ Council of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Rivers State, Dr. Omenazu Jackson, described the statements of Masari and Zulum as “statements of equity in the polity.”
Jackson said, “Honestly, the statements of both governors are statements of equity in the polity. Although zoning is not a part of our constitution, it has been literally accepted for the equitable distribution of power. The South must produce the next president for peace to reign in the county.
“If we must live in a just society there must be equity. No nation survives in an atmosphere of inequality. Nigeria must as a matter of national rebirth change her approach to issues of unity and love for one another and the political class must take the lead.
At the recent launch of a book written by Dakuku Peterside in Abuja, Governor Zulum called for power shift to the South in 2023 while Masari who featured on Channels Television’s “Politics Today”, monitored also advocated same.
However, the publicity secretary of MBF, Dr Isuwa Dogo, said, “For me, zoning doesn’t produce anything like equal rights, so there is nothing like equal right; zoning the presidency to the South what I will ask is that is there a particular part of the South that they are zoning it to?
“Because if you look at the South, the South-South has held it for six years, the Southwest has held it for eight years, but the Southeast has not. So are they proposing power shift to the Southeast or just the South? And if they are taking about the South in the zoning of the presidency and it is the Southwest that takes it for another eight years, can that be equity? If it is the South-South that takes it for another four or eight years, will that be equity? It doesn’t.
“So, if you want to zone, simply zone it to the Southeast and if you are not zoning, then don’t zone, Let it be whoever is the best candidate emerge. For example, if the People’s Democratic party (PDP) said the presidency should be zoned to the Southeast and the Northeast because if you are talking about equity, the Northwest has held it, the Southwest has held it, the South-South has held it, but it is not only the Northeast and Southeast that have not held it, the North Central has not as well, so why do you leave out the North Central?
“If you want to zone it to a particular side like the Southeast, the Northeast or the North Central, we will understand, but not to zone it to the Northeast, Southeast and leave out the North Central that has not held it before, so there is no equity in the zoning arrangement they are talking about” he said.
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