From Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Abuja
Weeks after his posters surfaced in some states of the country, Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello, declared at the weekend that he would contest to succeed President Muhammad’s Buhari in 2023.
The governor said his ambition is predicated on calls by Nigerian youths, women, the less-privileged, among others.
Bello, at an interactive session with journalists in Abuja, however, noted that he would not jump the gun, but wait for the “official time” to formally join the race.
“I don’t refer to this as my presidential ambition. It is the ambition of the youths, the younger generation, the women, the less-privileged, the deprived and the oppressed in the society.
“These are the people calling me to come and serve, to run and contest for president in 2023 and in order that I don’t run foul of the law, I am waiting for an appropriate time to officially give the nod to that call.
“And, as a matter of fact, because I belong to that constituency, humble background, young, and I’m seeing exactly the less-privileged, the oppressed, the needy and quest for good governance in Nigeria, I don’t think when the time comes, I am going to turn the request down. I won’t turn it down; surely.”
He equally dismissed calls by some high-ranking members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to respect the zoning arrangement with regards to the presidential ticket, between the North and South.
“There’s no zoning arrangement in our party; none that is existent that I know. If we want unity, if we want togetherness, let’s jettison all that divides us.
“I believe the younger generation has the antidote to fix the country because it’s only with the youths that there’s nothing like north or south or I am a Muslim or Christian.
“The focus should be on what unites us. In Nigeria, today, I’m more concerned about the unity of Nigerian youths and the younger generation. I think we should tread carefully on that.
“In 2015, nowhere was it zoned to the north; everybody contested, including Rochas Okorocha, who contested against Mr. President. In the People’s Democratic Party, same, and in other political parties.
“In 2019, nobody was willing to come and challenge Mr. President. It wasn’t as if anybody was deprived (of the opportunity) and so in 2022 election, it should be for everybody, let everybody contest, let the best emerge, the best that Nigeria would be proud of tomorrow,” he said.
On the issue of ‘flying kites on his presidential ambition’ before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has officially opened the gate, he jocularly retorted: “I don’t fly kites! I fly planes.”
He reiterated that he “would continue to be a lone voice in insisting that there is no Coronavirus“ in his state; even if it is deemed controversial.