Power Shift: Northern Politicians Back El-Rufai


…Presidency should alternate between north, south for political stability—Unongo
…Ex-ACF scribe questions El-Rufai’s sincerity

Prominent Nigerians of northern extraction have thrown their weight behind call by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state for the southern part of the country to produce the president in 2023 in the spirit of fairness.

The governor of Kaduna state who has been consistent in his call for the presidency of the country to shift to the south in the next general election argued that it would only be fair for a Southerner to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari who at the expiration of his second tenure would have spent eight years in office. He said, “after Buhari, what is honourable is for the northern politicians to support the southern candidate, we have an arrangement, we should stick to it and I believe that in 2023, all political parties should present candidates from the south”.

It makes sense for Southerner to succeed Buhari —Yakassai

Former aide to President Shehu Shagari, Tanko Yakassai noted that giving every part of the country the opportunity to aspire to the highest office in the land should be seen as an idea whose time has come..

He said, “it is good for the APC if that is what they have in their constitution. And if it is not in their constitution, it seems they have accepted zoning. After eight years of a northerner on the seat, it makes sense for a Southerner to succeed a Northerner. These are the things that can help reduce tension and anxiety. I think it is a good thing. When Buhari contested again in 2019, nobody challenged him for the ticket. He has completed his first tenure and he is into the second. It would be morally wrong for the APC to zone its presidential slot to the north in 2023,” he said.

It’s not honourable for north to contest in 2023 —Unongo

Similarly, former Minister of Steel, Wantaregh Paul Unongo argued that it would be in the interest of Nigeria’s nascent democracy to have power returned to the south after President Muhammadu Buhari.

His words: “My position is that the presidency should go to the south after President Buhari in 2023. The fact is that there is an unwritten agreement to that effect. Even if you don’t like alternating the presidency and you feel that you are very civilized and everybody can become president including husband, wives and children, just like what you have in America, we must realize that we are not America where you have an ideal situation and there are no problems of ethnicity as we have here.

“In the African setting people also tend to say I want my own to be there. In our democratic practice, there is a fact that is established, and it is the fact that we alternate the presidency.

“If for instance the north has produced the current President, it is incumbent on the political parties through practical understanding that they should present the next candidates from the south. And I believe that it was that understanding that created the way for Buhari to become President.

“So, I, Paul Unongo support the arrangement whereby you alternate the presidency between the north and the south as it is the practice. Above all, the political party that is in power should know that if we want some form of semblance of wanting our system to stabilize we should alternate.

“After Buhari if anybody from the north insists on the presidency and goes about it publicly and goes about it by trying to convince the north for votes because he is a northerner, I will not support that candidate and I urge Nigerians not to support such a person because it is not right, it is ungentlemanly and it is not honorable. The fact is that anybody can become president of Nigeria including the wife and children of one person but we must realize that we are working in a new state that had a terrible civil war and we can still feel the reverberation.

“So any decision we take in this country should be such that will stabilize the political process and practice. And the political practice for now is that when the north produces the president now, it would be the turn of the south to do same later. So, in 2023 it should go back to the south. The southerners have very competent people. Let them present a good person and hold APC to the gentle man agreement which they had to ensure power shift. The north shouldn’t enjoy it now and then want to repeat. It is certainly not right and will not be allowed in the interest of our nascent democracy.”

Proponents of rotational presidency should cause national consensus —Sani

However, immediate past secretary general of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Anthony Sani was not convinced of Governor El-Rufai’s sincerity in his call for a Southern President in the next general election. He said, “Governor El-Rufai has the constitutional right to express his opinion on any issues of national importance including the right to change his mind when circumstances demand him to. You will recall that he once held the view that it was time to jettison politics of identity in favour of embracing meritocracy. And if circumstance has made him to change his views, that is his constitutional right.

“I think the issue is not so much as to whether the Presidency should be rotated between the North and the South as to the absence of national consensus binding on political parties, considering that our multiparty democracy allows the political parties the exclusive right to field candidates for elective offices. That is why we would not be tired of saying that proponents of politics of identity are left with the option of either to cause the national consensus on rotation of the president among regions or zones, or design their winning game plans for their preferences within our multiparty democracy”.

Rotational presidency is in consistent with federal character —Balarabe Musa

Although rotational presidency is not provided for in the nation’s constitution, Second Republic governor of Kaduna state, Alhaji Balarabe Musa said allowing the South the opportunity to produce the next President is consistent with the principle and observation of the federal character. In an exclusive chat with Saturday Vanguard, the elder statesman described those opposed to zoning as enemies of federal character.

He said: “I completely support the idea of the Presidency returning to the South. It is in the spirit of fairness and equity to let the South have the Presidency in 2023, by which time Buhari would have been on the seat for eight years.

“Those opposed to zoning on the ground that it is not provided for in the constitution may have a point but truth is, zoning as entrenched in the constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is a good thing even though the party later flouted its own arrangement.

“Now, you can’t support federal character and not support zoning because both are tailored to give every segment of the country, a sense of belonging. Zoning is today being practiced at the ward, local and state levels. So why not replicate it at the federal level?”

Southerner of Igbo extraction deserves to be president—Najeeb

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Bauchi who just contested primaries for local council election, Najeeb Sani expressed his support for El-Rufai’s position on southern president in 2023. According to him, “in all fairness, I think the South deserves to produce the president in 2023, especially from the Igbo extraction. We can not keep talking about unity when a part of the country is ignored. In 2015, we all agitated for a president from the North because we felt it was the turn of the North to produce the president. Let me add that all those who now talk about competence are hypocrites. Are they telling us that there are no competent people from the southern part of the country? You can not keep a nation as diverse as Nigeria together without embracing all its people. The South should, in all honesty, produce the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”

Our lawmakers must ensure power rotation is sacrosanct—Nasir

Yakoub Nasir, a former Youth leader in APC advocated zoning of the office of the president to be enshrined in the constitution.

He submitted that, “the reason we’re having all these back and forth arguments about where the president should come from is because it has not been enshrined in our constitution. In a nascent and fragile federation like ours, this kind of sensitive issue needs to be addressed by the constitution. If our country must outlive us, we must do what needs to be done. Our lawmakers must wake up from their slumber and save this nation. If we look the other way now because we think we have the advantage, what will be our fate if the power returns to the south somehow? What is just is just. The south should produce the next president and leaders should revisit our laws to ensure that rotation of power is sacrosanct”.

South West should produce next President — Dambazau

A Chieftain of the ruling party, All Progressive Congress, APC in Kano State, Brig. Gen. Idris Bello Dambazau (Retd) supported El-Rufai that the Presidency should go to the South in 2023 based on zoning arrangements of the political parties.

“The parties have zoning arrangement. But for the APC, since the North West produced the President this time around, the next president is supposed to come from the South. South West should produce the next president because APC government was an alliance of North West, North East, South West and part of Middle belt. So, the Vice President should automatically be the next APC candidate.

“For the PDP, since there is zoning, they should zone theirs to the South. Atiku’s running mate in the last election was from the South East. So, going by zoning arrangement, the South (South West or South East) is supposed to produce the next president. And then the Vice President should now come from the North East or North Central,” Dambazau said.

Beneficiaries of zoning now turning their back——Dukawa

In his own submission, Senior Lecturer with the Department of Public Administration, Bayero University, Kano, Dr. Saidu Ahmad Dukawa, said if the political class had a covenant on conceding power to the South, then it should be honoured.

According to him, “three things need to be clear regarding the issue of zoning or rotational presidency. One, it is not necessarily in conflict with merit so it shouldn’t generate the kind of heated debate it is generating. That, for instance, Ahmad Bola Tinubu is from the South West does not strip him of his competence. However, to me, it is better to sell him as the maker of modern Lagos than to say he should be voted for because it is the turn of the South West to occupy the presidency.

“Secondly, zoning principle has been put to question by those who benefitted from it. Ex President Obasanjo attempted to jettison it, ex President Jonathan attempted to jettison it, and now the influential Mamman Daura wants it jettisoned. And this brings me to point number three, if the political class knew that they have any covenant regarding it then they must honor it. But they should realize that there is weakness in such principle in the sense that it limits choice which is a spice in democratic practice. So they can simply make their choice of candidates without necessarily evoking sectional sentiments with all the attending negative consequences,” Dr. Dukawa however said.

Ticket should go to south for sake of equity, fairness, justice —Lawal

On his own part, Alhaji Ahmed Lawal, the Organising Secretary of the APC in Adamawa State believed that with or without Governor Ahmed Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna state agitating for a Southern President in 2023, equity, fairness, justice and political balance gives the South the next President of Nigeria.

“The North has had its fair share of the presidency and should give the ticket to the South in 2023.

Northern political elders and leaders should rally round the South for the ticket of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC”, Lawal stated.

He explained that the South South had its share of the presidency with former President Goodluck Jonathan, even though he did only one tenure and equally succeeded late Umar Musa Yar, Adua who was of the Northern extraction. Ahmed Lawal, who is aspiring for the National Youth Leader of the ruling APC in its forthcoming congress, was specific that the South West should be given that singular opportunity to produce the flagbearer of the party. According to him, the South West has been the major supporter of the North during the first and second tenures of the Muhammadu Buhari-led government. For that singular act, the South West deserves to succeed President Buhari for equity, fairness and justice to prevail”, he added.

Alhaji Ahmed Lawal expressed worries that Northern political leaders who were agitating for the North to succeed Buhari were mischief makers who do not mean well for the advancement of democracy in the country. He therefore advised political leaders in the South West to put their house in order saying the next President of the country on the platform of the ruling party should come from that geo poltical zone

Another politician from the opposition party, the PDP, who did not want to disclose his identity however said the next flag bearer of the party for the presidency would surely come from the North.

The politician, said the North East deserved to produce the next president of the country on the platform f the PDP because the North East geo political zone had never produced the President for the country.

It’s the best to ensure peace, continuous harmony—Ibrahim

In Kaduna state, a Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr Modeccai Sunday Ibrahim, said, “on this matter, El-Rufai has my full support because it is not only the right thing to do, it is the best way to ensure peace and continuous harmony in the nation. However, El-Rufa’i is not a person to be believed and trusted because of his lifestyle of double speak. He could be caught saying one thing here and now but when he is met at another junction, you will be shocked to hear him saying a different thing completely. I believe he is saying it with an ulterior motive. He has seen that he has lost out of the presidential equation, so he is now trying the VP option. He is saying these things so as to be considered for the VP slot”

It’s ethical, morally right to give it to South East—Tanko

Former presidential candidate of NCP in 2019, who is now spokesperson of the NCFront, Dr Yunusa Tanko, said, “I don’t know the arrangement they have in APC and even though the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended does not contain rotational presidency, it is ethical and morally right that power should shift to the south particularly South East using merit and well thought out programmes for the people as the key objective for selection. This will help to unite the country, give room for inclusiveness, help in ensuring development, build trust amongst the people, bring about acceptability world wide as well as bring about fresh and new ideas in governance”.

El-Rufai cannot speak for Nigerians —Sen Doguwa

Former Kano State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Mas’ud Eljibril Doguwa however argued that El-Rufai was not in a position to speak for Nigerians or tell them what to do. Doguwa said, “Some times people speak out of their bounds. First, it is not for El-Rufai to say this is what he wants for Nigerians. Secondly, it is purely political.

So, he has to wait, politics in Nigeria as at today is something else. The issue of power shift from north to south or south to north or anywhere is not constitutional. It is only a political arrangement among the politicians. It is too early for El-Rufai to make such statement because we have about three years to go. So, it depends on the political permutations, political stability, political understanding and political reasoning that will warrant which region will produce the presidential candidate and from which party because El-Rufai cannot speak for other parties.

“If he can speak for his party, he cannot speak for other political parties. If they present a candidate from the north, what will he do? If the people of the north decide to vote for a candidate from another party what will he do? Is he going to force them to vote someone from the East or from the South or anywhere? I think it is too early for El-Rufai to be making such agitations. What should be done is to wait and nurse the crises bedeviling the country.

Crisis like insecurity, youth unemployment, economic recession and poverty. If we are able to reduce them drastically to the barest minimum, then the political understanding can come. The third aspect is to get people with the belief that this country can grow and without any sentiments. If the leader chosen will make sure justice reigns and will see Nigeria as his own constituency, then definitely no one will bother himself where the president comes from.” He further called on Nigerians to pray for the country to be emancipated from the various problems stagnating it.

“Nigeria is in a very very trying period, our nation requires our prayers. We have to pray for peace, for tranquility, for security and for economic development. Let us keep sentiments aside, let us not think that Nigeria is somewhere, we are Nigerians and Nigeria is our home, we don’t have any other place than Nigeria” he stated.

Source: Vanguard


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