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North Must Produce Buhari’s Successor, Says Bala Mohammed



Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed has joined the ranks of Nigerian politicians advocating for the North to retain power after President Muhammadu Buhari’s exit in 2023.

Another Northerner, according to him, should be in the saddle in 2023 “as Nigeria’s presidency is not for any section of the country but for everyone.”

But the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Prof George Obiozor, says Nigeria stands the risk of inviting a fresh round of national crisis should zoning be discarded ahead of the presidential election.

Obiozor, a former Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, told The Nation that it would be morally unacceptable for any geo-political zone other that the Southeast to seek the presidency in 2023.

Mohammed, who is interested in the presidency himself, spoke in Bauchi on Friday evening while receiving a situation report from the Contact and Consultation Committee he set up for his presidential ambition.

He claimed that the agitation for power shift to the South applies only to Buhari’s party –All Progressives Congress (APC).

He said: “I want to let all Nigerians, especially those clamouring for the 2023 presidency to go to the South, that it is the turn of the North to produce the next president.

“We are aware of the agitations of the southern part of the country because the leader of the country today, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is from the North, will finish his tenure in 2023, so power should rotate to the South.

“But I want to say that I am in PDP, I am not in APC. It is the APC that has this burden of zoning the presiden cy to the South.

“But I want to say that I am in PDP, I am not in APC. It is the APC that has this burden of zoning the presidency to the South.

“In my party, the last President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, was from the South and he was my President.

“During this period, my party was at the centre for 16 years; 14 of those years were led by people from the South, so where is the justice and the justification?

“Therefore, it is the turn of the North to produce the next President.”

Says Atiku qualifies to be president but age no longer on his side
Mohammed also spoke on the presidential aspiration of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, saying that while the Adamawa born politician has all it takes to rule Nigeria, age is not on his side.

He said: ”There was a time we invited our elder statesman to Bauchi; the one we respect so much in the whole of Nigeria, and in the Northeast; the Waziri of Adamawa.

“We interacted and I told him I know he is the most senior among us and he is very qualified. But because of his age and fatigue, having suffered so much for Nigeria, he should allow his younger brother.

“Though I’m not desperate about it, he should know Nigerians like me too. I’m ready to put my weight behind him though if he later emerges the party flag bearer.”

Mohammed said he needed more time for wider consultations with critical stakeholders in the PDP and other stakeholders across the country on his ambition.

Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the Contact Committee, Senator Adamu Ibrahim Gumba, advised Mohammed to discuss with Atiku so that one of them could step down for the other since they are both from the Northeast.

He claimed that PDP members backed the idea that the next President of Nigeria should come from the North, adding that the Northeast and Northcentral are the most qualified regions of the country because they have not produced an elected President in the history of the country.

But speaking to The Nation, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Prof George Obiozor, declared that anyone ignoring zoning of the presidential ticket “is playing with fire.”

“In fact you are inviting disaster for Nigeria. You are not a friend of this country and a friend of this current administration because there’s no surest way for any government to be declared failed in Nigeria than to tamper with this sensitive, precarious balance between North and South which is indeed the inheritance bequeathed by our founding fathers which is part of national expectation in politics,” he said.

He added: “There is no way you can change the rules of the game in the middle of the game. Nobody should try it. I hope those of us who are 80 or nearing 80 across the country should tell the young men not to play with fire and not to play with the destiny of Nigeria.

“There are certain sensitive institutions you don’t touch. They are sanctum sanctorum of a nation. In fact, it is indeed political sacrilege for anybody to boldly tell Nigerians that you are doing away with rotation of North and South for political convenience because of the same reason which led to tragedy before.

“Are we children? Power ought to be shared in Nigeria between North and South, and rotation is part of power sharing. Let the parties do what they want, but the correct thing was done by the parties in 1999.

“The worst thing you can do in a federation is to marginalise any section of your country. You don’t make them good citizens by marginalising them. You don’t make them good citizens by not giving them a sense of belonging. You don’t make them good citizens by denying them of their rights.

“So, the politicians have to be sensitive because Nigeria became a country that was negotiated. A nation with history is negotiated.

“Unless the politicians are suffering from amnesia or forgetfulness, then they can continue to deceive themselves that somebody can ignore a particular section of Nigeria and govern it peacefully. You cannot ignore any particular section of Nigeria and govern peacefully.”

Obiozor argued that the Southeast has enough capable people to govern Nigeria even better than those who have ruled before.

His words: “Which part of Nigeria has more sophisticated and more trained people than the Southeast? Is it in number of university graduates? Is it in number of superstars in any field of life you can find in Southeast?

“Somebody said competence is the name of the Southeast, and the world knows it. If you refuse to use the Igbo competence here, it is your loss.

“Look at the international community. Mention any organization, including the international police contingent, an Igbo is a star there.

“The point I am trying to make is that from the beginning, there has never been a lack of talent or leadership in Igboland. We have qualified people, more qualified than almost all others who have ruled before.”

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