The National Chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie has dismissed the idea of a northern president in 2023 as a political stillbirth.
According to him, the arrangement for rotational presidency in Nigerian politics had become conventional even though qualified citizens from all parts of the country were entitled to run for the nation’s top job each election circle.
It would be recalled that Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai had suggested that zoning of political offices based on region should be de-emphasised because Nigeria could not continue on that path.
Reacting in a press statement on Monday, Okorie said: “I have always had the position that Nigeria does not have constitution that has provided for rotation of power. But, at the same time, the rotational arrangement has become conventional. It is that rotational convention that made it easier for President Buhari to defeat a sitting president in 2015 because 2015 was widely perceived as the turn of a northerner to become president. Since President Buhari towered above every other person from the North, he won.
“In the build up to 2019, the UPP as a party – the party I lead – we knew that any person running for president from the South would be swimming against the tide. So, we decided to allow the North to complete its eight years, by not fielding a candidate for the presidential election, and that was what happened.
“It is that same convention that Nigeria would observe by 2023. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop any person from the North wishing to run, but the person will never be able to win the presidential election. Such persons will be like those southerners who ran in 2019 and never stood any chance of winning.
“Owing to the fact that it is not a law, anybody can run. The likes of El-Rufai can run, if they wish to do so. But, if El-Rufai is able to win Kaduna State, he should thank his stars. Buhari with all his qualities and following in the “North was not able to win on three previous occasions. But when Nigerians said it is the turn of the North, forces came together to mobilise support for him. In the South, the Southwest especially played a key role in making sure that he won.
“If for anything, the contest for leadership in 2023 will be between the Southwest and the Southeast. But, if equity has anything to do with politics, it should be the turn of the Southeast, considering the fact that the region has not produced any elected leader since independence.
“Anybody who believes that the next president would come from the North, based on what El-Rufai is insinuating, is indulging in wishful thinking. I can tell you categorically that the idea of a northern president in 2023 will not fly.”
Buhari back to Abuja after 9-day holiday in Katsina
President Muhammadu Buhari, Saturday returned to Abuja after a nine-day official visit, including celebrating the Eid-el-Kabir with family members and inauguration of some developmental projects in Katsina State.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that shortly before departing the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Airport, Katsina for Abuja, Mr Buhari had charged the military to be more spontaneous in restoring peace to the country, particularly states troubled by bandits.
He gave the order when he addressed 15 officers and 160 soldiers of the 17th Army Brigade and Nigerian Air Force 213 Operational Base in Katsina, under the “Operation Hadarin Daji’’, at the Airport in Katsina.
While in his hometown, Daura, Buhari received Guinean President, Alpha Conde, and the two presidents performed Eid prayers in Daura on Sunday.
Conde, who was welcomed by members of Daura community, was also conferred with a traditional as well as being treated to the traditional Durbar display at the palace of the Emir of Daura, Faruk Umar Faruk.
NAN reports that the developmental projects inaugurated by the president included network of rural roads where he applauded the progress being recorded under the administration of Governor Aminu Masari.
The president, who also inaugurated the Nigerian Air Force Reference Hospital in Daura on Thursday, met with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from seven local governments affected by banditry in the state.
Buhari also received members of the Progressive Governors’ Forum and leadership of the National Assembly and Katsina State House of Assembly who paid him Sallah homage in Daura.
2023: Northern youths faults El-Rufai’s position on zoning formula
Northern youths under the aegis of United Northern Youth and Students (UNYS) have berated Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai over his recent claim on zoning, ahead the 2023 presidential election.
The UNYS also declared their position on ambition of former Lagos State governor and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for Presidency in 2023.
El-Rufai had recently called for the abolition of power rotation in the country.
Coordinator of the youth group, Comrade Jabir Maiturare, stated this when he addressed a press conference in Kaduna on Friday.
Maiturare said, “Let it be known that Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu has not declared to contest for any position yet. Instead, he is solidly behind President Muhammadu Buhari and giving him the required support.
“In any case, whenever he seeks to contest for any position, including the presidency in 2023, we are ready to give him overwhelming support, and we therefore dissociate ourselves from such irresponsible act of some minority youth from the North.
“In the same vein, we wish to state categorically that Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai’s statement against the zoning arrangement in place is uncalled for and should not be given any serious thought because he speaks only for himself and not for the North.”
INEC to release timetable for Bayelsa, Kogi gov’ship elections
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said in the next few days, it would announce the time table for collection of Permanent Voter Card (PVC) and other activities ahead of the November 16, governorship poll in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
The National Commissioner and Chairman of the Commission’s Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Barrister Festus Okoye, gave the hint at the opening of a two-day National Strategy Meeting on Capturing Disaggregated Data of Persons with Disabilities [PWDS], organized with support from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in Abuja.
According to him, the time table for the collection of PVC will be announced at a stakeholders engagement to be organised in some few days time.
Okoye said “In the next few days, the Commission will announce the time table for stakeholder engagement for PVC collection and other activities relating to the states where we are going to have standalone governorship elections and the issue of this data collection will be one of the big issues in relation to whether we conduct good elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.”
Speaking also, Charman of INEC’s Outreach and Partnership Committee (OPC), Dr. Adekunle Ogunmola, said the meeting was a needed platform for knowledge and experience sharing.
He said: “According to the world report on disability published in 2011, stated that about 25 million Nigerians have at least one disability. However, with the population figure of Nigeria being put at over 200 million based on the latest United Nations estimates, naturally, there will be an upward swing in the population figure of PWDs in the country.
“Granted the huge population, PWDs are too important a demographic group to be ignored in planning in all spheres of human endeavor including the processes of election”.
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