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Arewa Forum: Producing President In 2023 Not Exclusive Right Of South

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The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) on Wednesday said it was not the exclusive right of the South to produce the president in 2023.

Speaking exclusively with Daily Independent, Anthony Sani, a northern leader and the outgoing Secretary-General of the ACF, said there was no national consensus on zoning that was binding on political parties in the country.

According to him, since Nigeria was practising a multiparty democracy, each political party was free to zone its presidential ticket to any part of the country.

“In a multiparty democracy, it is political parties that field candidates for elective positions because there is no provision for independent candidates.

“And if any political party, in its winning game plans, fields a candidate from the South and majority of Nigerians vote for him, so be it! That would be democracy in action.

“I say so because the president coming from the South is not a matter of right, considering there is no national consensus on politics of identity symbolised by zoning that is binding on the political parties.

“As long as there is no national consensus on politics of identity symbolised by zoning that is binding on political parties, it is not possible to shut out any region or zone or state from the contest for the post of the president.

“Recall when President Obasanjo wanted to force politics of zoning on the nation by bringing the late President Umaru Yar’Adua from the North after the South, he had to use political blackmail to shut out people like former Rivers State governor, Peter Odili, from the South.

“And when President Yar’Adua died, one did not expect former President Goodluck Jonathan to contest with Muhammadu Buhari in 2011 and 2015, in the spirit of zoning. But he did.”

Also reacting to the statement made by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State that the presidency should rightly return to the Southern part of the country, Sani said the statement was El-Rufai’s personal opinion and not the general belief of the North.

The ACF scribe said, in the last presidential election, even when it was agreed that the North should produce presidential candidates, a large percentage of presidential candidates that participated in the 2019 elections were from the Southern part of the country.

“In 2019, it was thought that the spirit of zoning would leave the field for presidential candidates from the North, but there were over 70 candidates, most of them from the South.

“This is testament to the fact that there is no national consensus on zoning that is binding on political parties with exclusive preserve to field candidates for elective posts in our multiparty democracy. That is why what Governor El-Rufai has said is not more than his personal opinion,” he said.

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