As the permutations for the 2023 Presidency begin to dominate political discourse nationwide, Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has said the Presidency should rightly return to the Southern part of the country.
Although the governor, acclaimed to be a major strategist of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, did not specify which of the southern geopolitical zones should take the Presidency in 2023, he argued that it would be unjustified for the North to seek to retain the Presidency after President Muhammadu Buhari might have completed his eight years.
Elrufai, who headed the APC’s Restructuring Committee, pointed out that although the party’s constitution does not make provision for rotational presidency, like the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, it was a general understanding that the Presidency should rotate between the two political zones of Nigeria for the sake of justice, equity and fair play.
The governor said: “The general political consensus in Nigeria is that the Presidency should rotate between the North and the South. It is not written but everyone understands it.
In some of the parties, like the PDP, it is even written down in their constitution but it was breached in 2015. I think that every politician of honour should understand and abide by that consensus except there is an extenuating circumstance compelling it to be set aside.
What could this be?
“President Yar’Adua died in office and it was compulsory for Jonathan to continue but when 2011 election came, there were many people who insisted that Jonathan should step aside for a northerner to complete the tenure of Yar’Adua but I opposed it because I didn’t think it was proper for an incumbent that got there not by his own design should be stopped from contesting when the constitution has not barred him from running.
In the APC, we deliberately omitted rotational Presidency in our constitution and the emergence of a presidential candidate does not take into account zoning and that was why in 2015, Rochas Okorocha from the East contested, Sam Nda-Isaiah contested, Buhari, Kwankwaso and others contested.
“I can say that as distinct from the PDP, APC has no rotational Presidency but candidates are selected strictly on the basis of political merit and the general acceptability of the candidate.
I want to say that those of us from Northern Nigeria honour agreements. We do not violate unwritten political agreements and I will be the last person to lead in violating that agreement. I may have a personal view but that should be the basis. I don’t care where you come from but I look for merit.
“But as a group, the Northern APC will have to sit down and endorse someone, most likely someone from the South, because after eight years of Buhari, I don’t think the Presidency should remain in the north unless there is some extenuating circumstances. But all things being equal, we will honour our agreement and we keep our words.’’
It will be recalled that some northern leaders have lately begun to canvass for the retention of the Presidency in the region, arguing that the south had done more years than them since President Umaru Yar’Adua died and his vice, Goodluck Jonathan, took over and did another term in place of the north.
Others have even argued that since the PDP jettisoned the well established rotational Presidency, which the party put in place to ensure orderly sharing of power, power sharing between the north and the south should no longer be on agreement but on merit.