The issue of who will become next Nigeria’s president and where it will come from has been at the front burner of national discourse for weeks on end. The issue has become a topical and sensitive one so much so that some stakeholders and concerned parties have thrown caution to the wind and gone for open confrontation, innuendos, and name-calling. Many times you wonder if their insistence on being in power come 2023 is spurred by altruism and selflessness or avarice, greed, and inordinate ambition to have power at all cost.
The contentious matter about who should inhabit Aso Rock come 2023 has also created a schism among the elites and political class of a nation that’s already deeply polarised, no thanks to the nepotistic and chauvinistic tendencies of the current occupant of Aso Rock. You have governors of southern extraction and their counterparts from the north having a go at one another regarding which region should produce the next president of the country.
The southern governors have remained unyielding on their insistence of having the next region from the region, they premise their resolution on an unwritten, gentleman agreement that power should rotate between north and south. In the spirit of fairness and equality, they averred that it is only natural for the south to produce the next president upon the completion of president Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.
However, the governors of the northern states, rising from their last meeting in September, rebuffed the demand of the southern governors, they pointed out the idea of zoning which the southern governors predicated their demands on is not constitutional. To the northern governors, it mattered little that the continued existence of a country like Nigeria is hinged on having every part of the country actively involved in nation-building, having a sense of belonging, and having a say at how the country is being governed without feeling dominated by a group of people who feel and think they are superior to orders.
After the truculent statement of the Northern governors, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, emerged from his cocoon to weigh in on the topical national discourse. Expectedly, his views on the issue also explicitly echoed the sentiment of the northern governors, he opined that the president can come from any part of the country. It’s worth noting that Atiku’s self-seeking remark came after his party — the peoples democratic party (PDP) — resolved to zone the chairmanship position to the north, a move that somewhat scuttled the bid for the northern presidency in 2023 and effectively paved the way for the emergence of a presidential candidate of southern extraction.
Before the zoning of the chairmanship to the north by the National Convention Zoning Committee (NCZC), chaired by the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the governors elected on the platform of the party had met with ten of the thirteen governors voting in favour of southern presidency in 2023.
Atiku is a man who has always prided himself on upholding the values of equality, fairness, and justice. A detrabilised elder statesman who believes giving others what belongs to them when they need it is instrumental to the peaceful coexistence of Nigeria. However, his recent stance on the issue presidency has left so much to be desired.
One has to understand the grouse of Atiku, he had contested for the presidency three times and he had lost on all occasions, the last being 2019 when he came close but for the federal might of the All Progressive Congress (APC). The feelers in some quarters are that Atiku would have won comfortably if he were not contesting against President Muhammadu Buhari. His case has always been so close and yet so far away.
Having said that, isn’t it incongruous and distasteful that someone who sees himself as an apostle of equality is now willing to sacrifice such attribute on the altar of power.
As we all know, the government in Nigeria is all about elections, politicians start thinking about the next election year right after they are elected into office. The rhetorics, conjecture, and assertions about the 2023 presidency have begun even though the elections are still eighteen months away. However, one must sound a note of admonition to Atiku as the presidency discourse gathers momentum, he can’t turn a deaf hear to the yearnings of the majority because he wants to achieve his longtime ambition of becoming the president.
Another eight years of a northerner as president after Buhari might portend danger for the sovereignty of the nation, and this is what Atiku needs to consider. There has to be a country called Nigeria for him to become a president and this simple fact appears to be eluding the Adamawa-born tycoon.
He needs to shed the toga of desperation and see the bigger picture.
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Afolabi Hakim is a journalist, content creator and writer. He is always on the look out for ways to broaden his knowledge spectrum and Impact people's lives positively.