Governors from the Southern states of the country, under the aegis of Southern Governors Forum last week converged in Lagos to discuss the state of the nation and take a strong position on some of the issues currently bedeviling the country.
At the end of the meeting, the Governors among other things unanimously agreed and declared their total support for rotation and zoning of the Presidency to the South in 2023, insisting that it was the right thing to do for the sake of fairness, peace, progress, equity and justice to people of the South.
“The Forum reiterates its commitment to the politics of equity, fairness and unanimously agrees that the presidency of Nigeria be rotated between Southern and Northern Nigeria and resolved that the next President of Nigeria should emerge from the Southern Region,” they said.
Surprisingly, hardly had some of the Governors left Lagos that hypocritical elders and some interest groups hurriedly ran to the press, and rejected the position of the southern Governors. Their pain was obviously because the 17 governors spoke with one voice. Again, they were shocked at the audacity of the governors for demanding power shift to their zone. To them, it was the height of impudence for the Governors to meet and discuss such an issue without seeking the consent of the North.
While slamming the Southern Governors, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) said the North would not accept the imposition of any candidate on the region,
adding that only a candidate who is competent and can unite and secure the country should be President in 2023, irrespective of where he or she comes from and accused the governors of ganging up against the North.
In a statement by its spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, the CNG said the Southern Governors cannot be trusted with presidential powers because of their tacit support for separatists like Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu, noting that their Lagos resolutions “have further exposed a deliberate attempt to impose a contentious system of a rotational
presidency that turns all democratic norms and accepted indices of our national demography on their heads; a rotation system that is clearly aimed at achieving dubious political goals; and one clearly designed to weaken the North”.
On their part, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), said the North would not be compelled, intimidated, or blackmailed to yield an elective position which ought to be settled democratically.
The Director of Publicity and Advocacy of the NEF, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said it sees the decision of the Southern Governors as an expression of a sentiment that could best be discussed within a political process because “we are running a democratic government and decisions over where the next president comes from will be made by voters exercising their rights to choose which candidate best serves their interest,” he said.
The reaction of the Northern Elders and the CNG is a sum total of the view and opinion majority of the people from the North holds, concerning the issue of a Southern president in 2023. They believe that it is wrong for anyone to decide for them because of the advantage of their numerical strength which they often use to bully the South.
The northern group’s reaction also justified the insinuations that President Muhammadu Buhari may not want to relinquish power on May 29, 2023. It has been widely speculated but we don’t want to believe that the President will heed to that temptation and set the country on an avoidable path of destruction and infamy. We see him as an honorable man, at least.
While we agree that zoning may not be the solution to the problem of the leadership deficit we have in the country, and that it does not necessarily promote merit but it is a venture that is worth it because of the sense of belonging it brings to all zones. It heals the feeling of injustice and create opportunities for even development as by sentiments, every President tends to attract more development during his tenure to where he comes from.
Since 1999, it has been a balanced system which has helped to sustain and stabilize our democratic experiment and nothing should truncate it. Recall that after the eight years tenure of Chief Olusegun
Obasanjo, the Late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua took over. His death, midway into his term brought to the saddle, his Vice, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. It was an open secret that powerful forces in the North wanted to prevent his emergence which almost threw the country into needless political turmoil until the Senator David Mark led Senate invoked the doctrine of necessity, which settled the matter.
The argument that Jonathan shouldn’t have contested in 2011 after completing the tenure of his boss was valid. He should have allowed a Northerner to come up and complete the second four years of Yar’Adua but the situation then didn’t allow that to happen. It is also the same way, President Buhari did not allow Jonathan to have a second term.
So, 2023 should provide the opportunity to balance things, since Buhari would have completed eight years. The North should not attempt to contest the presidential election even if constitutionally they have the right to do so. If they do or insist that the Presidency is open, it will be obvious that they are greedy when it comes to political power and that will fan the embers of disunity which may lead to chaos. There is nothing undemocratic about power shift or rotation, it is also not a calculated design to weaken any region politically as the North would want the world to believe.