Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Amidst growing controversy over the zone that will produce the president in 2023, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’Abba, has said the plum office should go to any competent Nigerian who will be fair and just.
Since the return to democratic rule in 1999, zoning has played a pivotal role in the sharing formula of political offices in the country, particularly the presidency.
As a result of the zoning formula introduced by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former president, Olusegun Obasanjo from the South West was elected president from 1999 to 2007; Umaru Musa Yar’Adua from the North West succeeded him. Following his demise on May 5, 2010, his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan from the South South took over. Jonathan contested the 2011 general election and was declared winner. However, he was defeated in 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari from the North West, while seeking re-election.
With Buhari’s re-election, there have been growing concerns over which zone the presidency should go to in 2023.
While myriad of voices from across the country have been supportive of the South East that is yet to produce a president, there have been reactions from other zones for the presidency to be retained in the North, while others are backing the South West.
But Na’Abba said: “My stand is that the Presidency should go to any Nigerian who is competent and will be fair and just; a person of vision and mission who will be transformative.”
Not done regarding his position on the 2023 presidency, Na’Abba said at the moment, the country is in dire need of a president who will bring to reality the abounding potentials of the country.
“A person who will midwife Nigeria from potential to actual is what we need. It doesn’t matter where he comes from so far he possesses these attributes,” Na’Abba maintained.
Also speaking, Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, said 2023 presidency is not the only issue threatening to break the country, saying there were so many issues on ground.
Onaiyekan also said the major issue about the country is not about who will be president and what language he speaks.
“The issue that will break Nigeria is if we continue to run a nation, pretending to be democratic where we are not. A nation where the will of the people is not prevailing, where elections are not done properly and where security is seems to be not the priority of government. To me, those are the issues.”
Onaiyekan said in electing a president, it should not matter what language his president speaks and where he goes to worship.
“What should matter is whether my President is a good president, that he serves the nation, that he treats everybody equally and that the common good of Nigeria is his priority. That is what I am looking for because even if he is a Catholic from my village and he continues with this process we have here, I will not want him. I don’t want us to give up the hope of getting a good government. We should continue to insist,” Onaiyekan said.
However, a former Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the 2014 National Conference, Senator Femi Okurounmu, said 2023 presidency is not the priority of the country.
Okurounmu said restructuring should be of paramount importance to the nation.
“It is how to get the country running right, how to get the country straightened out. That should be our priority,” Okurounmu said.
For the Emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, it is a pity that Nigeria keeps having unsatisfactory leaders.
“It’s a pity that all the presidents that Nigeria has been having are not satisfactory. Before talking of 2023, if we’ll see it, whoever it may be and from wherever, the current situation of the whole nation and her needs are paramount. A stitch in time saves nine,” Okogie said.