Despite the clamor for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction come 2023, there appear to be divided opinions among the Ndigbos over the burning subject of zoning and rotational presidency.
Though many Igbo chieftains have spoken in favor of powershift to the South with particular emphasis on zoning the presidency to the Southeast their body language suggests otherwise.
The Southern governor’s forum made up of 17 governors with 5 out of them being from Southeast last week reiterated their earlier resolution that the 2023 presidential candidates must come from the South.
Most of these governors are members of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, but going by the feelers emanating from the party, the PDP might likely settle for a northerner as its presidential candidate.
Also, some political leaders from the North have been advocating the renunciation of the rotational presidency, arguing that the zoning system is not contained in the constitution of Nigeria and the constitution of any political party.
Speaking on this burning national issue with our correspondent, a chieftain of the Indigbos and Chairman of Southeast for Presidency, SEFOP, Abuja chapter, Chief Tobias Tobechukwu Obiechina, said it would be unjust and unfair to deny the Southeast the opportunity to have a taste of the presidency before the zoning system is abolished.
Obiechina said given that the other geopolitical zones have benefited from the rotational zoning arrangement, the Southeast must be allowed to have its turn before it is jettisoned.
“Even though it is not in our constitution, zoning has always been part of our political system. It was done in 1999 when Obasanjo contested with fellow Southwesterner as an opponent because it was zoned to that region. The same thing happened during the time of Yaradua who contested with Buhari all from the North. Then after Yaradua came to Jonathan from the South again. Since Southwest, south-south, and North have all have their turns, it is the turn of the South-east.
“We believe that in a society where everyone is treated equally there will be no crisis, Nigerians will begin to be proud of Nigeria like Americans do.
“When the Yorubas contested nobody said no need for zoning when it was the turn of the Hausas and the south-south, nobody renunciate zoning, why is it now that it is the turn of the Ibos? Are we still suffering from the civil war? Do we die because there was a civil war?,” Obiechina argued.
Contrarily, a two-time commissioner in Imo State, Prof. Vitalis Orikeze Ajumbe, averred that the Zoning should be abolished as it brings about mediocrity in political contests.
Prof. Ajumbe argued that Zoning will deny Nigeria the benefit of recruiting quality leaders based on merit.
“Zoning brings about mediocrity, people should be able to present their best and compete to gain power instead of being dashed to the power.
“As an Ibo man, I would like to see an Ibo man as president, but we have to work for it. Power is not given but taken.
“Personally, I don’t care where the president comes from, my interest is we need a president that will give us good governance. We need to eschew sectional politics, that is what is killing this country.
“Anyone who wants to be president must present a good and sellable manifesto that will sell him,” he said.
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