The clamour for power to shift to the southern part of the country continues to gain traction as different interest groups have upped the ante in recent weeks, JONATHAN NDA- ISAIAH writes
The contentious issue in the political space right now is the debate on which zone succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023. It is generally believed that since Buhari who is from the north west has spent two terms in power, it is natural that power should shift to the southern part of the country in 2023.
It is instructive to note that power shift or rotation is not in the country’s constitution and in the constitution of most of the major political parties . However there is a gentleman agreement within the parties that power should be rotated for equity and fairness.
Recall that the death of the alleged winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election , MKO Abiola triggered the calls for power to shift to the south west in 1999 to compensate the region. To achieve that aim, the two major political parties fielded two candidates from the south west – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) fielded Olusegun Obasanjo and Alliance for Democracy ( AD) presented Olu Falae.
After 8 years in power, the two major candidates in 2007 were both from the north and coincidentally from Katsina State. The death of the Late Umaru Yar’Adua in 2010 and the subsequent presidency of Goodluck Jonathan altered the power equation in the country.
However political analysts have contended that there hasn’t been any power rotation since 2003. According to them, people from different zones have contested the presidential elections in different political parties. They also argued that power rotation would have counted if President Jonathan had won the 2015 election, where the proponents of power shift then.
It is instructive to note that some have argued that power should rotate between the six geopolitical zone and not between north and south .Instructively the zone that have produced the presidency since 1999 are the South West, South South and North West. North Central, South East and North East have argued that they deserve a shot at the presidency in 2023.
Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello who is from the north central campaign posters have flooded.major cities in the country. He also denied reports that the ruling All Progressive Congress ( APC)had a zoning arrangement ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
He said anyone from any zone was free to contest for presidency in 2023, as there was no zoning arrangement in the APC.
According to him, “There is nothing like zoning in our party. In 2015, there was no zoning; many aspirants, including former governor Rochas Okorocha, contested.
“In 2019, there was no zoning; people in APC were not courageous enough to contest with President Muhammadu Buhari.”
On his rumoured presidential bid in 2023, he said “What is happening now is so amazing. Nigerian youths, women and Nigerians across boards are calling on me to run for president in 2023. It is something I have been making consultations on. It will interest you to know that not one kobo I have given to anybody to print posters or to do anything. Youths across boards felt it is time for the younger generation to take the seat of a driver to fix Nigeria.
“So, if young Nigerians are asking me to fix this country, they have the right to make such demands. I’m pretty sure if this unity among younger Nigerians continues this way till 2023, nobody aside God almighty will stop the youths from taking over the leadership of this country. By then, I can tell you that the journey of fixing this country has just begun.”
However, some leading politicians in the south west have insisted that there is a zoning agreement in the APC. Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, told his party the APC to respect the zoning agreement at the formation of the party for the 2023 elections.
“The truth is that what makes an agreement spectacular is the honour in which it is made not whether it is written. If it was written, there would be no court cases of breach of contract because it is a document that is written and signed that go to court. But the private agreement you make with your brother and sister should not be breached, it must be honoured,” he added.
It’s no secret that National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is interested in taking a shot at the presidency in 2023. Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo and Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi are also projected to be possible contenders for the presidency from the south west in 2023.
Also, news filtered in that former President, Goodluck Jonathan is being drafted in the presidential race to complete his second term , a report he has vehemently denied .
Pointedly, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the main socio-cultural group of Ndigbo, rising from a meeting of its Elders’ Council in Owerri, the Imo State capital recently
made a fresh pitch for a president of Igbo extraction in 2023.
The council, under the leadership of Prof. George Obiozor, in a communiqué, mandated the group’s President-General to collaborate with other stakeholders to make the Igbo presidency a reality in 2023.
The council stated that the Igbo agenda could only be achieved in consultation with other ethnic nationalities. The elders urged qualified Igbo to show interest in the 2023 presidential race.
It is pertinent to note that the south East presidency has been adduced as the major reasons why Ebonyi State governor , Dave Umahi defected to the APC. According to him, the PDP had no intention of zoning the presidential ticket to the south East inspite of the fact the party has grip like hold on the region.
Expectedly, both the APC and PDP have kept mum over its zoning formula in 2023. According to political analysts , a definite pronouncement of zoning from either of the political parties may trigger mass defections on both divide.The wait is still on.