From Fred Ezeh, Abuja and Paul Osuyi, Asaba
A northern group, Arewa Transformational Leaders, has kicked against zoning of presidential tickets by major political parties to any region.
National Chairman of the group, Alhaji Yusuf Ibrahim, told journalists at the end of their meeting in Abuja, that the loud conversation for zoning of the presidency in 2023 should not be at the centre of conversation but seeking the right persons that would pull Nigeria out of the dungeon of socio-economic underdevelopment and backwardness.
“The discussion about zoning is an interesting one and it’s expected in this period because of lots of interest in the forthcoming general elections. However, we are encouraging everyone interested in any political position, irrespective of geopolitical zone and political party, to go out and exercise his or her franchise.
“We are not party to the issues of zoning to the north or south because it has done us no good in the past. We have unanimously agreed to support political leaders including the president as long as they are democratically elected by the people of Nigeria. Religion, tribe or political affiliation shouldn’t be a problem for us.”
Ibrahim noted that their major focus is on steps that would promote peace and development of the north.
“We are in for any cause that will promote mutual respect for both religions, Christianity and Islam, and guarantee peaceful co-existence in the north.”
Reacting to the death of Deborah Samuel, a Christian student in Sokoto State, Ibrahim described the incident as unfortunate.
“The victim was a northerner and the act took place in the north. We are not happy with the situation but as an organisation, we will do everything legally possible to ensure that peace and sanity is restored in the affected communities and other parts of the north.”
He solicited the support of members of the organisation to the new leadership of the organisation to ensure they succeed in their quest to make the north a better place to live and do business.
Meanwhile, as the debate on zoning of the 2023 presidency rages, human rights activist, Senator Shehu Sani has declared that northern politicians were not ready to cede power to the south.
He said politicians cannot continue to accept the principle of federal character and at the same time kick against zoning.
Speaking in Asaba, Delta State at a seminar organised by Asaba Correspondent Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Sani said it was likely that a northerner would pick the ticket of PDP. He, however, advised the APC to honour its words if there was any agreement that there would be power transfer to the south in 2023.
“APC is playing cat and mouse game with PDP. If the opposition fields a northern candidate, APC will field a northerner. This is because of the belief that the poorest of the poor in the north vote according the dictates of their leaders. That is the sentiment. The unity in the north is not in the south. The North-East, North-West and North-Central will vote for a northern candidate, but it is not so in the south. APC is afraid of zoning their ticket to the south because if they do so, and a northerner emerges PDP flag bearer, the ruling party may lose the presidential election,” Sani said.
He said if the opposition party was really desirous of taking over power, it should avoid internal bickering and unite as a force, take advantage of the appalling situation in the country to articulate its points. “For PDP, whoever emerges, after the presidential primary, the party has a duty to rally round him to rescue this country.”