2023 Election: North Or South? By Golu Timothy
Even though 2023 is still about two years away, a lot of people have started unveiling their dreams and permutations on how it should herald and accommodate their ambitions and aspirations. The year 2023 is the destination and last bus stop for the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency because by then, the government would have clocked the mandatory and constitutional two term tenure of 8 years benchmark.
While some persons are viewing it from purely biased points of sentiments and partisanship, others are looking at it from fundamental prisms of where the nation needs to be, especially with ongoing challenges of insecurity and economy, unemployment and corruption. Every politician wants his or her zone to take over obviously because of the level of tribal and ethno-religious configuration that has colorized the polity.
Across political parties, it’s the issue of zoning and rotation of the number one political office in the land, the office of the President. For now, the office is occupied by a northerner in the person of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC who will be clocking and completing his constitutionally elected 8 years in office. He had taken over from a southerner in the person of former President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP who occupied the office for 6 years. Jonathan was elected Vice to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007 but died in office in 2009 and Jonathan completed his remaining 2 years. He subsequently won the Presidential election in 2011 and served for 4 years to 2015.
Former President Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo, a southerner, was elected in 1999 and served for complete 8 years before handing over to the late Yar’Adua. So Obasanjo’s 8 years plus Jonathan’s 6 years equals to 14 solid years of a southern Presidency while Yar’Adua’s 2 years plus Buhari’s 8 years( almost 6 years spent now) plus 2 remaining years equals 10. If not that death took his life, it’s possible that the late President Yar’Adua would have continued for a second term till 2015 and which would have been difficult for a northerner to take over from him in 2015. Power would have been in the hands of the south by now till 2023 before returning back to the north.
Part of the sentiments for the rejection of Jonathan in 2015 was the fact that the north did not complete its tenure under Yar’Adua in which Jonathan, a southerner, completed and went ahead to contest, win and occupy the office. But now, the circle seemed to have been completed on both sides and each wants to take or retake as the case may be.
For the south, Buhari would have completed his second term of 8 years in 2023 and therefore it’s time for them to take over. That’s why calls for Igbo Presidency, South South Presidency and a Tinubu Presidency are all over the polity. But the north has not conceded the lucrative office and may not concede on the silver platter except they are defeated or superior arguments prevailed against the region. Within the two largest political parties, PDP and APC, calls on both regional divides for consideration have sprouted loudly and intensive debates have been ongoing.
The north central geopolitical zone is part of the north and waiting in the wings to maximize gains if the opportunity presents itself. Once the north insists that it will contest to retain the office, it behooves that the trio of the North West, North East and the indefatigable North Central, with the largest chunk of experienced political leaders, will surely key. As it is now, it’s only the North Central within the northern region that has not occupied the position of either the President or the Vice, the SGF, CBN Governor, strategic ministerial posts etc. and it will only be fair if the top office is conceded to it once the north is given the opportunity or seizes it.
We have a legion of well and self-trained political leaders who have distinguished themselves in all categories of leadership in Nigeria. These great and illustrious sons of the north central or middle belt have done exceptionally in the various offices they held and are ready to occupy and do more again. They include but not limited to former Presidents of Nigeria’s Senate, Iyiorchia Ayu, David Mark, Bukola Saraki, former Governors Babangida Aliyu,David Jonah Jang, Senators Nasiru Mantu, Jeremiah Useni, Gabriel Suswam, Barnabas Gemade, Governors Samuel Ortom.
The permutation for 2023 in the north central zone is getting thicker and is hinged on the north’s decision to zone the office to the geo-regional area. This is because once the northern region decides to concede the 2023 presidency to the south the North Central geopolitical area cannot lay any claim to contesting the office. Since both the late Yar’Adua and incumbent President Buhari are from the same state and same North West geopolitical zone, the zone cannot advance anyone for contest again. It is now left for the north east (which had produced Atiku Abubakar as VP between 1999 and 2007) and the north central which has neither produced the President nor the Vice in the nation’s democratic history, to jostle for it. The south, on the other hand, is threatening to resist with every political force the North’s desire to continue holding power.
But the truth remains that with the nation’s endemic problems of statehood, it should not matter which zone produces the next President of Nigeria come 2023. What the nation needs is a competent, willing, firm, developmentally minded and aggressive, courageous, detribalized, God-fearing, exposed, intelligent and fearless leader who will be fair and equitable and do justice to all regardless of the above factors.