Last year, the Southern Governors Forum (SGF) met about three times and declared that the next president should come from the south. The Northern Governors Forum responded that zoning of presidential elections is not constitutional, and that it is the construct of the political parties.
The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman said, “We find the renewed desperation by the south to threaten [the] northern people’s right to franchise a deliberate attempt to bastardise democracy, cause greater instability in the guise of contentious undemocratic power shift arrangement and therefore unacceptable,”
The southern governors had said: “The Forum reiterates its commitment to the politics of equity and fairness, and unanimously agrees that the presidency of Nigeria be rotated between Southern and Northern Nigeria and resolved that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the Southern Region.”
The southern governors went ahead to say that no political party should field a northern president, if they did, they would not have the southern support to which the north responded that they cannot play second fiddle. The north is concluding their 8-year term of president Buhari by next year but they are not backing down.
The two leading political parties are yet to announce from which zone the presidency will come.
While the southern governors were issuing the communiqués, they did not specify which zone in the south that will produce the next president. The South-west has produced the president for 8 years and the Vice President for another 8 years under the Buhari administration; the South-south has produced the president for 5 years, with the South-east having not held the presidency in nearly 40 years.
The last time the South-east was in the presidency was under the Shagari-Ekwueme administration when president Buhari overthrew them. That was from 1979 to 1983.
The South-south is claiming that they need to complete their 8-year term, the South-west is laying claim to the presidency and positioning itself as being very ready while the South-east is arguing that it is their turn.
Not being categorical in stating to which zone the presidency should come from undermined the interests the SGF wanted to project. The underlying interest for convening the meetings could be seen to be in the interest of the South-west which probably made the South-east governors back down from fully attending subsequent ones.
Seizing on that, Gov. Rabiu Kwankwaso on ChannelsTV, has “condemned the insistence of the Southern Governors Forum that the next president of the country must come from their region rather than what is best.”
The argument on “what is best” has left the zones to jostle for the presidency. The North-east is laying claim as Atiku Abubakar has shown interest, Rabiu Kwankwaso of North-west has shown interest and Goodluck Jonathan of South-south is showing interest while Bola Tinubu of South-west has declared his interest among other aspirants across the zones.
Although reports have it as speculation even as there have been moves made towards realising that ambition, Goodluck Jonathan is hatching a comeback to the Aso Villa come 2023. Already, posters have been created to that effect.
Last year, it was also speculated that he was being wooed to join the APC and fly the ticket to which PDP debunked.
Jonathan’s body language may be suggesting a person who wants to play cool and calm to reach his goal. After all, previously, his demeanor to have reached the apex of his political career was that of a person with no or low ambition.
His presidency was highly supported by the South-east with an understanding that the region will get such massive support when it is their turn. But from the look of things, the South-east may not get such support from their neighbours who are also interested in clinching the presidency.
During the Jonathan administration, the South-east with the massive support given to him, received the short end of the stick. Many of the appointees sacked were from the South-east. Most of the federal government projects, especially the federal roads were dilapidated and no new federal infrastructure was taken to the South-east. During his 2015 election, among other issues that led to his defeat, the South-east reduced their support and he failed.
While politicians from other zones are making serious arguments, consulting and declaring their interests, the South-east politicians are also laying claim to the presidency yet, to some watchers, they are unserious.
Political power is taken by applying the skills of a deal master, and strategy. Those who have made known their interests have yet to consult widely. With the complexities in the South-east region as I have discussed previously in ( The odds against the Igbo presidency), it is left to be seen how far the region gets whereas it is rightfully their turn to field the president. It is argued that zoning has become unconstitutional after it has been used to field presidents in the past in a mutually political understanding.
Where equity and justice reigns, it is the turn of the South-east to field the next president. The saying that the South-east is waiting for power to be handed to them is weak where power had been handed to the South-west in 1999 and South-south as Vice President in 2007, even the North-west in 2015.
The South-east will continue to pursue its interests through strong arguments and strategy, and not by being timid and playing second fiddle. But let it not be that because power is supposed to be from the South-east, other regions decided to jostle for it, otherwise, it is an injustice to the South-east.