The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has said that there is nothing wrong in political parties fielding northern candidates for the 2023 presidential election.
The two prominent northern groups denied the existence of any national consensus as regards the issue of zoning or rotational presidency.
Speaking to Saturday Tribune in separate interviews, the Secretary General of the ACF, Mr Anthony Sani, said the North reserved the right to drum up support for its preferred contenders in a multiparty democracy like Nigeria’s which, he noted, gave only political parties the exclusive right to present candidates for elective offices.
“No groups outside political parties can present candidates for elective offices. And in the absence of a national consensus on rotation and zoning of political offices like the offices of the president, vice president and governor and deputy governor, political parties are at liberty to design their game plans which include which zone their presidential candidates and their sidekicks will come from.
“I say there is no national consensus on rotation and zoning that is binding on political parties. There is no such national consensus. General [Muhammadu] Buhari would not have contested against President [Olusegun] Obasanjo in 2003 and [former] President [Goodluck] Jonathan would not have contested against Buhari in 2011 and in 2015.
“You will also notice that in the 2019 general election, presidential candidates were fielded by political parties from both the North and the South.
“And since ACF is not a political party which can present candidates for elective offices, the forum is not in a position to discourage any groups from canvassing for their preferences in a multiparty democracy which Nigeria practises.
“Therefore, ultimately, it would be the majority of Nigerian voters who will elect the president,” the ACF scribe declared.
Speaking in the vein, the president of the CNG, Shettima Yarima, said his group wanted the North to retain power beyond 2023, after which it would be expected to form an alliance with the South East so that Igbos could assume power in 2027.
Shettima said that since the return of democracy in 1999, the South had ruled the country for 15 years, while the North had only ruled for five years.
He said: “Even by the time Buhari completes his eight-year tenure, the North would have ruled for nine years. And if we cede power to the South in 2023 they would now have ruled for 24 years or more if they are to leave in 2027.
“For justice, equity and fairness, the North should be allowed to rule beyond 2023 even if it is for one term. We can now partner or form a strong alliance with the South East for them to produce the president in 2027.
“To us, the issue of rotation is not constitutional and must be jettisoned by all well-meaning Nigerians,” he declared.
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