By Sunday Ani, Chukwudi Nweje and Chinelo Obogo
Mixed reactions have trailed the position of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) that power would remain in the north after 2023.
NEF’s spokesman, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, had said since the region control majority of the votes, it should not play the second fiddle.
While some dismissed the statement as political, others maintained that there was a gentleman’s agreement about the rotation of the presidency between north and south which should be respected.
National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Alex Ogbonnia, said those with such views were definitely in the minority, stressing that triumph of good over evil was as sure as life.
“There are two groups of Nigerians – those who want the country to remain as a corporate entity and for it to progress and grow in one hand, and those that don’t want the unity of this country but want it to retrogress. But in all of this, there is what we call conscience and that makes it imperative that people with good ideas will always be greater in number…
“That is the role of conscience in human beings, because ultimately, those who are in favour of equity, justice and fairness will be more in number. So, those northern elders saying this (power will remain in the north) will definitely be in the minority because there was a gentleman’s agreement that power should be rotating between north and south. And it has been like that since 1999. So, for justice, equity and fairness, power must rotate to the South East in 2023. So, whatever happens, truth will always prevail over falsehood.”
National president, Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Pogu Bitrus, said power shift is determined by political parties and not northern elders.
“It is not for northern elders to determine what happens in PDP, APC or any political party for that matter. It is what the parties want to do that will carry the day. So, they are just making a political statement that is neither here nor there,” he said.
Spokesperson for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar during the 2019 presidential elections, Umar Sani, said PDP would likely consider the fact that the north has only had the presidency for two years on its platform since 1999 in making its decision on zoning.
“If the APC decides to zone it to the north after eight years of Buhari, then it is morally wrong, but will it be morally wrong for PDP to zone it to the north seeing that the north has only had it for two years on its platform?”
Tanko Yakassai said the Southern Governors Forum was not recognised by the country’s constitution and as such, they cannot dictate to any Nigerian whom to vote for.
“The statement by the Southern Governors Forum that the presidency must be zoned to the South in 2023 is an exercise in futility because there is no provision in the constitution where a governor is empowered to dictate to Nigerians how they should cast their votes.”
National Publicity Secretary of pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Jare Ajayi said every part of the country should be free to field a candidate of their choice, but that equity and fairness dictates that the presidency should go to the southern part of the country.
He said more important than where the presidency should be zoned to is that Nigeria needs to be restructured before the 2023 general election.