A group, Nigeria Equity Group (NEG), has called for a president of Christian faith for the country in 2023.
It said it supported the position of the southern governors that the country’s next president should come from south but that he or she should be a Christian.
The group stated this at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday.
The southern governors had in their meeting in Lagos on July 5 said the south to produce the next president in 2023.
Chairman of the group, Emeka Nwosu, said in the spirit of fairness and equity, Nigeria’s next president should be a Christian from the south, especially as President Muhammadu Buhari – a Muslim from the north – will finish his two terms of eight years by 2023.
“We wish to note and state clearly that the call for a Southern presidency in 2023 by the Southern Governors did not go far enough. We strongly believe that the only way to truly promote fairness and inclusion in our diverse and complex society, especially at this time of unprecedented national crisis, is for a power shift to a Southern Christian in 2023,” Mr Nwosu said.
The NEG chairman also cited the rising religious distrust in the country as more reason why a southern Christian president should emerge, arguing that failure to produce a southern Christian president would not only run the risk of alienating Christians in Nigeria, but also exacerbating the religious ‘rifts and wounds that have become more evident.’
He said: “The country is at the moment riven by strife, stoked by religious distrust, suspicion and fear of domination.
“We strongly believe that the only way to truly promote fairness and inclusion in our diverse and complex society, especially at this time of unprecedented national crisis, is for power shift to a Southern Christian in 2023.
“Failure to do that would mean that no Christian can hope to become President of this country in the foreseeable future. There is a zero chance of a Christian minority emerging president from the North when power shifts there again because the population of the North is overwhelmingly Islamic and the Christian minorities barely feature in the mainstream politics of the region, except in a handful of states.
“Anything other than a southern Christian President in 2023 will further exacerbate the rifts and wounds that have become more evident lately and not bode well for our country.”
Following the return to democracy in 1999, the Nigerian presidency has rotated between the south and north, Christian and Muslim.
Mr Nwosu argued that to keep up with the balance that has been maintained for the past 22 years, a southern Christian president in 2023 will be evidence of inclusion and fairness.
“Since 1999 with the return of democratic rule, power has interchanged at the highest level between practitioners of these two faiths, ensuring that there is balance and inclusion at the highest level of our politics. To a large extent, this has provided some assurance to the heterogeneous groups which make up the country that no faith or group will dominate the other,” he said.
“It should not be different in 2023. To shut out Christians, who make up about half of Nigeria’s population from power for 16 years, assuming another Muslim takes over from Buhari, will be grossly unfair and bad politics that will lead to deleterious outcome for the country.”
Although some northern governors have expressed support for a southern president in 2023, none of the parties have zoned their presidential ticket to the region.
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