The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, on Monday said the 2023 presidency should go to Nigeria’s southern region.
He said this will promote the democratic tenets and balance of power among the regions in the country.
Prior to this, a former military head of state, Ibrahim Babaginda, in an interview on Channels TV expressed a similar thought.
Unlike Mr El-Rufai, the ex-head of state specifically mentioned the Igbos while Mr El-Rufai did not specify which of the southern geopolitical zones should take the presidency in 2023.
For many years, Nigeria’s political class have observed an unwritten rule that has seen the presidential slot rotated between its majorly Christian-dominated south and the Muslim-dominated north.
The current president, Muhammadu Buhari, is from Katsina, in the North-west. He defeated the then incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, in 2015. Mr Jonathan, who is from Bayelsa, South-south, region took over from late President Umaru Yar’Adua, a northerner.
El-Rufai joins debate
“The general political consensus in Nigeria is that the pesidency should rotate between the North and the South. It is not written but everyone understands it,” the Kaduna governor said.
“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?
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“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,” the Vanguard newspaper reported the governor as saying on Monday.
Mr El-Rufai acknowledged the ‘deliberate’ omission of zoning in the ruling APC’s constitution but opined that it is ideal that “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.”
His view, however, appears contrary to that of some northern leaders in the party who want the region to retain the seat as they argue the seat should be based on merit and general acceptance rather than unwritten agreements.