Why North must retain presidency in 2023 – Arewa Forum
By Halima Suleiman
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), on Saturday boasted that no zone of the country has any basis to demand for the country’s number one position, hinting that southern leaders had breached gentleman agreement on power rotation under Jonathan presidency.
The organisation queried premises by which those agitating for the zone (South East) are basing their arguments.
According to ACF, Nigeria is practising a multi-party democracy and the political parties based on their game plan should decide which zone and personality should contest and attain the presidency and not the elite.
Speaking through its Secretary General, Anthony Sani, ACF told Journalists that some people are speaking as if there was a national consensus that power must rotate among all the zones of the country.
He also accused former President Goodluck Jonathan of trying to deprive the North of the presidency in 2011 and 2015, positing that if there was a consensus for power rotation, the Bayelsa-born politician would not have contested against the interest of the North.
Sani stated that, “What is more, in 2019, of the 76 presidential candidates, only about six or so were northerners.”
He added, “The controversy about which zone is to produce the president in 2023 just few months after the sitting regime is not up to six months in office, is uncalled for, just as it is unhelpful. This is because such controversy can be distracting and promote politics of identity at the expense of allowing the political parties to assume real responsibilities for real issues of real concern to real ordinary Nigerians.
“Where the president comes from in 2023 is the exclusive responsibility of political parties. The political parties do so with their winning game plans. So, let us allow the political parties to develop their winning game plan and present candidates to Nigerians when the time comes.”
Speaking specifically on the South East, he said: “Every section of this country deserves to rule this country if a political party considers a candidate from the section of the country.
“I do not think there is an existing unwritten national consensus on rotation of the office of the president as is being posited in some quarters. This is because if there were such national consensus, President Jonathan would not have presented himself in 2011, considering the North had not served eight years at that time.
“Not only that, he also presented himself in 2015. If he had won the elections in 2015, the South would have served more than 16 years. What is more, in 2019, of the 76 presidential candidates, only about six or so were northerners.
“The rest came from the South.
“So, when people talk about rotation of president as if there is an existing national consensus to that effect, I begin to wonder the basis.”
On the permutations that the Vice President should come from the North Central zone, such as Kogi, Benue, Plateau, Kwara and Nasarawa in view of the fact that these states are yet to produce the President or vice in this dispensation, Sani said: “You talk as if the nation is no more governed by multi-party democracy which allows the political parties the exclusive right to present candidates for elections.
“I expect the media to know this and promote the practice of multiparty democracy instead of promoting something alien to the practice of multiparty democracy. I do not think the media should promote something different from the practice of democracy.
“And since politics is matter of group interest, group goals, group cohesion, group coherence and even group conspiracy, and not an individual enterprise, I advise those who hanker for the position of president in 2023 to do so democratically, using the multiparty system.”
However, elder statesman and Chairman Board of Trustees of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa, disagreed with ACF, insisting he is one of those canvassing for an Igbo presidency in 2023.
Musa, a former governor of Kaduna State, said, “Even though zoning was introduced by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that we are opposed to, it is good for us as a country because it gives every person and area a sense of belonging.
“So we support the zoning and we are saying the presidency should go to the South East and we have our reasons.”
On whether the PRP would zone its presidential candidature to the South East in 2023, Musa said: “If I have my way, I will definitely push towards that, but remember am just an individual in the party like the others. I only have my own opinion, but I can still tell you that, like me there are others in the North who believe in that.
“For instance Senator Shehu Sani is in line. He is opposed to the North continuing in the presidency beyond 2023, after President Buhari and he has made that very clear and there are others like that. Like Yunusa Tanko of ACP, the same thing and we are all northerners, if you want to use that card.
“We are very much in favour of the presidency going to the South East in 2023. We are opposed to the North continuing in power after Buhari. We have made that quiet clear and they are many in the North like that. We are also happy to hear that there are some people in the South West who are speaking in the same direction, like elder (Ayo) Adebanjo of Afenifere and others. You cannot just discard the opinion of Adebanjo in the South West,” he said.
Additional information from Sunday Telegraph