It is time for Nigeria to produce a president from the South, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on INEC, Kabiru Gaya, has said.
Mr Gaya, who stated this at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum on Tuesday, said the southern part of Nigeria should produce a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 for the sake of equity.
Having produced a northern president for two terms, the nation deserves a president from the south, he said, because both regions can accommodate each other.
“On the issue of presidency in 2023, I will support a president from the southern part of the country,” Mr Gaya, Third Republic governor of Kano State, said.
“I believe it is time we have a president from the southern part of the country while the vice president comes from the north.
“I think it should be fair to rotate the presidency in such a way that people will have confidence in the system; both the north and the south will accommodate each other. Nigeria needs to be one country, one united country,’’ he said.
His demand comes amidst agitation that the presidency be retained in the north where Mr Buhari comes from or should be zoned to the south, particularly the southeast, which has yet to produce the country’s president since the restoration of democracy in 1999.
Since 1999, Nigeria’s political leadership has been rotated between the southern and northern parts of the country.
The arrangement, though unwritten, has been a determining factor on who emerges as president over the years.
Many have , however, faulted the agreement basically because it was never written.
Some senior members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), to which Mr Gaya belongs, have also said there was agreement to rotate the presidency between the north and the south when the party was being formed in 2013, while others say there was none.
Among those who claimed there was a gentleman’s agreement are the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, former Ogun State governor, Olusegun Osoba, Director General of the Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu and an estranged ally of the president, Buba Galadima.
However, a former governor of Zamfara State, Ahmad Sani, denied the existence of an agreement.
It is not exactly clear whether the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will obey the rule of zoning come 2023.
As a matter of fact, the Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, who recently defected to the APC from the PDP, said the PDP was not planning to pick its 2023 presidential candidate from the Southeast.
Already, socio-cultural groups, majorly from the Southeast, seem to be at the top of their game in ensuring the office is zoned to their region.
The debate over zoning began soon after Mamman Daura, Mr Buhari’s nephew, said last year that the idea of zoning presidency for 2023 be jettisoned for competence.
Regardless, many southern political players are still hoping that it will be the turn of their region to produce the president in 2023 after Mr Buhari leaves power.
Reacting to calls for restructuring Nigeria, Mr Gaya, who represents Kano South Senatorial District, said the country needs to remain indivisible, while improving on its revenue generation.
“God knows best why he put us together and I believe there is a reason for it. But when you say you want to restructure the country using revenue generation, that each state lives on its own or parts of the nation in terms of tribes strive on its own, I think that is the thinking of some Nigerians.
“I believe that Nigeria should remain one indivisible entity.”
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