Prominent Nigerians led by a northern elder-statesman, are making nationwide consultation to ensure that political parties, especially the major ones like, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) field southern presidential candidates ahead of the 2023 elections.
The concern of these prominent Nigerians, according to THISDAY’s findings, is to make sure that the South – any of South-south, South-west and South-east, produces the next president of the country in order to continue to sustain the unity of the country and douse the current burning political tension.
An insider, close to the initiative, told THISDAY that these prominent Nigerians had in the past few days met with former presidents, military Heads of States, traditional/religious leaders of different faiths, business moguls and other stakeholders, who were said to have bought into the idea.
“The group, headed by a former top federal government official, has in the last few days met with the former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Heads of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd) and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar(rtd), traditional rulers and other stakeholders on the need to persuade the major political parties to produce southern candidates.
‘’We know zoning of the presidency to any particular geo-political zone of the country is at the discretion of political parties; but we need to have a special arrangement similar to that of the 1999 prearrangement where Alliance for Democracy (AD) and the PDP produced southern candidates in ensuring that the South was given the opportunity to produce the president in 1999 after the June 12 1993 crisis.
‘’Since the North would have concluded its eight years run in President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, it is fair we allow the presidency to go to the South if we must continue to encourage equity, fairness and unity of this country,’’ an insider who doesn’t want his name mentioned explained.
The source added that even though the ruling APC is considering zoning the presidency to the South, there is the need to work on other political parties, especially the PDP, to follow a similar pathway.
“Rotation or zoning is not sanctified; it is a party’s procedure among members because it is not in our constitution. So, it is left for members of the parties to decide where the presidential candidate should come from,’’ the source added.
Apparently encouraged by the ongoing consultations, THISDAY gathered that many aspirants in APC: Its National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu; the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi; Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; former Governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha; and others are currently erecting political structures across the country in preparation for the race.
THISDAY reported recently that in a major political development powered by power manoeuvres, Buhari’s supporters were considering backing former President Goodluck Jonathan for 2023 presidential run.
The thinking is that it will satisfy the increasing clamour for power shift to the South. Buhari’s close loyalists believed that Jonathan would be inoffensive to their group interest and as such the right person to take over if power were to shift to the South.
According to a top source in Buhari’s camp, ‘’Former President Jonathan handed over power peacefully and nursed no bitterness against anyone and, therefore, will not be a threat to the interest of the north.”
The attraction to Jonathan’s possible candidacy is that he will serve just one term of four years and power will return to the North.
In PDP, former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and others are also said to be making consultations in preparation for 2023 presidential race.
The political move also fits into the recent position of elder statesmen, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, Chief Edwin Clark, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF; Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, and Chief Bode George, who contended that the presidency should be narrowed to the South.
Clark was quoted as saying that Nigeria’s unity demands that North and South should rotate the office of president and after Buhari serves his eight years, the presidency should return to the South in 2023.