The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has slammed Kogi state governor Yahaya Bello over his recent comment on rotational presidency, saying the governor was still in school when the agreement was reached.
Mr Bello on Friday described talks by southern states governors (who had in a resolution said that Nigeria’s president in 2023 should come from the south) of rotational presidency as unconstitutional.
He argued further that Nigerians should be allowed to make their choices for the best candidate to emerge for the top post.
Ohanaeze, however, noted that there was actually an agreement for rotational presidency in Nigeria between the North and the South.
“Governor Bello was still a student, studying accountancy at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria when an agreement was reached between the North and the South with respect to Rotational Presidency,” National Publicity Secretary of the group, Alex Ogbonnia said in the statement.
He added further that, “The meeting was held at the National University Commission (NUC) Conference Centre, Abuja, in 1998. Dr Chuba Okadigbo spoke on behalf of the South while Alh Abubakar Rimi spoke for the North.
“The likes of Dr Alex Ekwueme, Chief Solomon Lar, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo were at the meeting. The Nigerian statesmen examined the merits and demerits of zoning and rotation of power between the composite zones in Nigeria.
“At the end, it was resolved that the presidency be conceded to the South, and that it would rotate between the South and the North in the interest of equity, unity and corporate existence of Nigeria.
“The foregoing was the basis for the emergence of presidential candidates of the mainstream political parties from the Southwest in 1999.
“Since then, the patriotic and peace-loving Nigerians have adhered to the rotation principle, such that at the end of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s second tenure, President Musa Yar’Adua was elected; Goodluck Jonathan and then President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The above expose informs the resolution by the Southern governors that the South should produce the next president of Nigeria after President Buhari.”
According to the group, the governor has demonstrated a remarkable obsession with ambition shortly after providence paved way for him to be sworn in as the governor of Kogi State in 2015 at the age of 40.
“There is no doubt that Bello has a date with destiny going by a smooth political ascendancy that life has presented to him. However, I have my fears that he is embarking on a political adventure that lacks both conscience and principle.
“The immortal words of Uthman Dan Fodio that ‘conscience is an open wound and only the truth can heal it’ should serve as a moral compass to Nigerian leaders,” he said.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, led by George Obiozor, therefore advised the governor that “it will serve his interest better if he supports the resolution by his southern colleagues; since age is still in his favour”.
The group also said that “Bello is beckoned to the ethical functional relationship between the morality of an agreement and the legality of the constitution.
“For purpose of clarity, morality is the universal foundation of Laws. On the other hand, law should be seen to stand in defence of morality,” the statement added.
By Abel Ejikeme