By Henry Umoru
THE Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, led by the South South leader, Chief Edwin Clark, Thursday cautioned Politicians from the North, seeking to run for the Presidency in 2023 to wait till 2031 to ensure national harmony and peace.
The forum said it is unthinkable that the North should contemplate clutching onto the Presidential Seat, in 2023 at the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s two tenures of eight years, adding that nature abhors injustice; the sun does not rise in the east and set in the east.
In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Ken Robinson said, “Everyone has the right to take part in the governance of his/her Country; to vote and be voted for. But, it’s equally fundamental to uphold the indispensable principles of fairness, equity, and justice. Noting that without these, there can be no overall peace and progress.
“We consider declarations, by some individuals and groups, now, suddenly opposing the extant practice of rotational zoning of Political Offices, particularly that of the Presidency, as unpatriotic and self-serving. Given the multi-faceted heterogeneity of our Country, Nigerians should be critically concerned, not only about the credibility and competence of those aspiring to occupy the highest office, but also, where they come. We must conscientiously ensure that zoning, especially for the Office of President and Governors, is very well maintained. Besides, PANDEF firmly affirms that no Zone of the Country is in want of men and women of noble character, acumen, competence, and integrity, to lead Nigeria at this crucial time.
“To say, suddenly, only in 2021, that the Presidency should be open to all Zones in 2023, amounts to moving the goalpost, in the 87th of a 90-minute game, implying that somebody from Daura, Katsina State, can, again, become President of Nigeria in 2023, within the present mood of the Country. PANDEF says a Big *NO!*, to such an attempt to worsen the current bare threads of National cohesion, unity and all-around prosperity!
“The North would have completed the statutory eight years by 2023; it is, therefore, only reasonable and fair that power should rotate to the South, as has been the case for twenty-two years of the Third Republic! Whether the person would emerge from the South-South, South-East or South-West is a matter of different configurations entirely.
“Northerners who hunger to become President should wait till 2031. Political stakeholders need to demonstrate pristine, honourable, and patriotic etiquette of civility to whittle down the thick tensions, arising from the all-around dissensions and alleviate the pain, suffering and unpleasant conditions that the vast majority of citizens are facing.
“Reckless political machinations, to arrogate power to one part of the Country will only worsen the ensuing debilitating state of affairs.
“Those saying that Zoning is unconstitutional are, truth be told, barefaced mischief-makers. They behave as if the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is an “animal kingdom”. Perhaps, that’s what some want the Country to become.
“The Federal Character Principle, sadly, now being brazenly infringed by the Buhari administration, was introduced to address the problems of disproportionate, and ethnicity-based domination of the Country, by ensuring that the composition of every Government, all over the Federation, reflects all its different parts.
“Section 134 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that: *A candidate for an election to the office of President shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being more than two candidates for the election; (a) he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and (b) he has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
“The framers of the Constitution incorporated the cited and related provisions to check sectional preponderancy, and guarantee balanced spread, above all, a secure sense of inclusiveness, in the political governance of the Country. The need for equitable sharing of political power in Nigeria, cannot be overstated.
“It is for the same reasons that Nigerian Political Parties have long adopted the counterbalance of Presidential and Vice-presidential Candidates between the North and South. PANDEF recalls that, at Independence, we had a “ceremonial” Southern President, and a Northern Prime Minister.
“The basis for success in any viable democracy, especially in a diverse and complex country like Nigeria, is fair and even sharing of critical offices. It is, thus, apposite to prompt leading political parties in the country to wake up to the succinct truth that it would be in the best interest of the nation and our democracy to ensure that their 2023 Presidential Candidates emerge from the South.
“Any permutation of modern colonialism through any sort of perplexing, incoherent, gluttonous manoeuvres in the political horizon, will be unacceptable
“PANDEF clearly, and loudly here reiterates that the Zoning of Political Offices has always been an intrinsic part of the Nation’s political arrangement, which cannot be greedily, and casually jettisoned, for any reason, without consideration of all possible inexorable collateral outcomes.”
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