Nigeria: El-Rufai - Give Presidency to South in 2023

9 August 2020

Kaduna, Abuja — Kaduna State Governor, Nasiru Ahmad El-Rufai, yesterday said that after President Muhammad Buhari's tenure ends in 2023, the presidency should be zoned to the southern part of the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari's nephew, Malam Mamman Daura, had recently said that there was no need for zoning the presidential ticket to any part of the country.

Speaking in the Hausa Service of the BBC, he said Nigeria's political space should be left open for the best candidate to emerge as president.

He added that the most qualified person from any part of the country should succeed Buhari.

Daura said since Nigerians had tried the rotational presidency thrice, it would be better to go for the most qualified candidate in 2023, irrespective of whether he comes from the North or South.

But El-Rufai said in an interview with the Hausa Service of the BBC monitored by our correspondent in Kaduna that there was a standing agreement that if the North rules for eight years, the presidency should be zoned to the South, adding that although the agreement was not enshrined in the constitution, politicians were aware of it.

"That is why I came out and said that after President Buhari's eight years, no northerner should contest for the office, let the southerners also have eight years.

He reiterated that he would not contest the 2023 presidency as speculated.

"Many have been saying that I want to contest for president since I was a minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).This does not make sense. I do not want to contest the Nigerian presidency. It's God that gives power, whether you like it or not.

"If He wants, He will give it to you, but I have never intended to contest for the presidency of Nigeria and nobody can say I did," El-Rufai added.

APC reacts: That's his opinion

Meanwhile, the National leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has described his statement as his own personal opinion.

The APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, told Daily Trust on Sunday yesterday that the party would communicate its official position on zoning in due course.

"It is his own personal opinion just like what Daura said. Party leaders and members are free to express their opinions. But when we get to the bridge, the party will communicate its official position on zoning," he said.

Why El-Rufai is pushing for southern presidency - Don

An associate professor of Political Sociology, University of Abuja, Dr Abubakar Umar Kari, yesterday said El-Rufai was pushing for southern presidency to actualise the agenda of his camp in the APC.

He said in an interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, "It is an open secret that Governor El-Rufai belongs to a powerful tendency in APC that comprises governors like him, ministers and other notable chieftains who appear poised to wrestle the party and rebuild it in their own image.

"It is possible that El-Rufai fancies himself as, or is being prepared to run for vice president. If that is so, then he is eminently qualified, but then he will have a mountain to climb."

The varsity don said the view that power should shift to the South was too simplistic, stressing that power is taken, not given.

"If the South, which is an amorphous concept anyway, wants power, it should be ready to work for it, the North is not likely to surrender power just so easily, considering the repudiation of the power shift gentleman arrangement by the southern political elite in 2011 and 2015, citing constitutional guarantee for all Nigerian citizens to aspire to all political offices without any hindrance.

"Secondly, which part of the South are we talking about? The question is tricky and an attempt to answer it may be so difficult as to even threaten the group El-Rufai represents.

"Thirdly, to the best of my knowledge, the constitution of the APC, El-Rufai's party makes no provision for power rotation. Therefore, El-Rufai's view may be a hard sell even within his own party," he added.

He, however, said power shift and rotation are problematic.

"For obvious reasons, the southern elite discuss power rotation exclusively in terms of holding the levers of power in government only, they often conveniently restrict their rhetoric on power (which should shift) to control of the presidency, while deliberately neglecting other equally formidable components of power like the economy and even the media.

"For me, if power must shift or be rotated, then all components of power (political, economic, media, etc) must be part of the conversation, and not only political power," he said.

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