The dust generated from Monday’s statement by Nigeria’s northern governors as well as traditional rulers in the region that, zoning of the presidency was unconstitutional, has attracted the ire of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, which not only condemned the northern governors and the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but further warned against the north insisting on producing President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor in 2023.
Ohanaeze, Ndigbo’s apex socio-political association, also went the memory lane to educate the northern political elite and refresh their memories about how their former leaders like Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Alhaji Shehu Shagari and others underdeveloped the north despite running the affairs of the country for a long time.
According to a statement by the Secretary-General, Ohanaeze, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, another northern president would fuel the agitation for Oduduwa Republic as well as Biafra nation and therefore warned that such a narrow disposition threatened the unity of the country.
This was, however, in sync with the position of the President and Founder of Anap Foundation, Mr. Atedo Peterside, who while weighing-in on the matter, wrote on his official Twitter handle that, “Some Governors say zoning is unconstitutional. Will they accept a President and Vice President coming from the same zone? Or a governor and deputy governor from the same local government area, though these are all ‘constitutional’? No, zoning is about political expediency and compromise.”
The Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF), umbrella body for 19 elected governors in northern Nigeria, had signaled its determination to retain power in 2023, when it argued that power rotation was unconstitutional.
It, therefore, condemned the position of the Southern Governors Forum (SGF), stating that their position contradicted “the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended that an elected President shall score the majority votes; score at least 25 per cent of the votes cast in two-third of the states of the federation.”
But Isiguzoro, in the statement accused the northern governors of being the instigators of Nigeria’s breakup and that another northern president would be faced with challenges that would make it difficult for him to rule Nigeria.
The statement read: “The Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide maintained that attempts to jettison the rotational presidency in 2023, and the north insisting to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari will be unfavorable and weaknesses towards sustaining the unity and stability in the country as it will favour the declarations of Oduduwa and Biafra nations by 2024.
“Northern Governors’ miscalculation on 2023 and meandering on blind excitements of opposing the position of southern governors’ standpoints had put the northern governors as exponents of Nigeria’s breakup.
“If another northerner succeeds President Buhari in 2023, he or she might not be able to superintendent over the affairs of the country as Nigeria might face brutal challenges from secessionist groups with full backing up from ethnic groups as a result of a revolt against the injustice against South and excesses of the North.”
According to him, Ndigbo, “may join with IPOB, to declare for Biafra restoration in the event of any conspiracy against the 2023 Igbo Presidency.
“Northern governors should apologise to Nigerians for these subversive and provocative responses to 2023 Southern Presidency or should face the consequences of unable to read the mood of the nation which favours the southern presidency of Igbo bloc.”
In yet a separate statement, the National Publicity Secretary, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, said the position taken by the northern leaders was a clear indication that the country was facing a bleak future.
It noted that the northern leaders failed to recognise that Nigeria was confronted with uncertainty, doubts, insecurity and bloodshed presently, adding that by unanimously condemning the statement by the SGF that the Presidency must go to the south in 2023, the northern leaders had shown that they cared less whether Nigeria survives or not.
According to the statement, the Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum, Governor Simon Lalong, could attest that the people of Plateau State, had never in history witnessed the number of deaths that had taken place under his watch as governor, noting that banditry in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Jigawa States was terrifying.
“Benue State has turned into a killing field. The states of Yobe and Borno are worst hit by the menace of Boko Haram; etc. Several schools in the North could not open because of kidnappers and millions of children are on the street as beggars.
“The Nigerian currency has lost its value. Unemployment has skyrocketed; and Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the world and the Northern Governors, the Sultan and the Emirs instead of seeking solution to Nigerian problems were busy strategising on how to retain power in 2023. This is most unconscionable, to say the least.
“Let it be made abundantly clear that if Presidency is a panacea to people’s problems, the north would have become the Netherlands of Africa. This is because the North had Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Shehu Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, Abdulsalam Abubakar, Musa Yaradua, Muhammadu Buhari, yet the problems of the North are on the increase,” he noted.
It reiterated the position of the Southern Governors, saying a gentleman agreement was reached at the NUC Conference Centre, Abuja, in 1998 between the north and the south.
“The Late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo spoke for the entire south and Alh. Abubakar Rimi, also of blessed memory, spoke for the North. It was agreed that after Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar as the Head of State, that the presidency should shift to the South.
“That accounted for the emergence of the presidential flag bearers of the mainstream political parties from the South West. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo respected the agreement and handed over to the North in the person of Musa Yar’Adua.
“Again, Goodluck Jonathan, a Southerner, respected the gentleman agreement and handed over to the North in the person of President Muhammadu Buhari. Therefore, the least that is expected from the North is a show of profound gratitude to the entire South for their large heart, equanimity and sportsmanship.
“Furthermore, it is in the interest of every Nigerian that there should be a paradigm shift to governance techniques,” the group noted, reiterating its support for the 17 Southern Governors.
Continuing, the statement stated: “Ohanaeze uses this singular opportunity to express disappointment over the unholy manouvres and alliances by the members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to zone the presidential seat for the 2023 general election to the Northern Nigeria. The exponents of this agenda, in their jaundiced calculations, believe that it is a sure way of regaining power from the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Experience would have taught them that to zone their presidential position to the North is an orchestrated requiem for the party, because more PDP governors and grassroots will surely desert them,” it added.
The organisation, which has Prof. George Obiozor as its President General further reiterated that the bane of Nigeria was injustice, which it claimed was targeted at the Igbos.
“Until we begin to wean ourselves of the Igbophobia and rather harness individual and group resourcefulness, creativity, ingenuity and initiatives wherever they are found, Nigeria will remain on the downward spiral,” it added.
Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu