Nigeria: I Won't Support Northerner for Presidency in 2023 - El-Rufai

9 August 2020

Kaduna — Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai yesterday agreed that the next president of Nigeria should come from the southern part of the country.

He reversed his position on the zoning principle in an interview with BBC Hausa, saying he would not support a northerner to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.

After the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, political gladiators nationwide had argued that the presidency should return to the south.

On August 10, 2019, specifically, el-Rufai warned against zoning principle, urging the country "to choose competence over zoning when electing its president."

In the prologue he contributed to "Power of Possibilities and Politics of Change in Nigeria", a book by Salihu Lukman, director-general of the Progressives Governors' Forum, el-Rufai argued that zoning has to be abandoned.

El-Rufai said competence should be chosen over zoning as far as the number one seat in the country was concerned. The governor described zoning as "opaque", adding that it was a barrier to political equality.

However, in a radio programme yesterday, the governor said he would not support a northerner to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.

He added that it was baseless for anyone to insinuate that he would contest for presidency in 2023, saying he did not have any interest in the seat.

El-Rufai said the idea of rotating the presidency might not be constitutional, but it was based on the country's political arrangement.

"In Nigerian politics, there is a system of rotation, in which everyone agrees that if the north rules for eight years, the south will rule for eight years," el-Rufai said.

"That is why I came out and said that after President Buhari has been in office for eight years, no northerner should run for office. Let the southerners also have eight years.

"If you look at how I am, I don't take anyone to work with me for the zone he came from. The eligibility I look at is if who is entrusted to the public will hold it properly.

"It has been said that I have loved the presidency since I was a minister in the FCT. This is nonsense. I do not want the Nigerian presidency. God gives power, whether you like it or not, if He wants it, He will give it to you, but I have never sought the presidency of Nigeria, no one can say I have ever sought it."

Only last month, July, also in an interview with BBC Hausa, Buhari's older nephew, Mamman Daura, said it was better for competence to prevail over zoning in government positions.

Daura's statements sparked criticisms nationwide from socio-ethnic groups and some personalities in the country.

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