The scheming for the 2023 presidency has continued to gather momentum and there seems to be no end in the sight to the raging war of words between the North and South over which of the country’s two divides will produce the next president.
Some Northern political leaders have continued to make case for their region to retain power beyond 2023, but their Southern counterparts are insisting that the North would not succeed itself after eight years in power.
The Northern 2023 political agenda, which started in form of a kite, is fast gaining ground with prominent political leaders in the region as well as groups buying into it. But, most power brokers in the South, comprising South-West, South-South and South-East are not giving to any chance to ensure the power shifts to their area after President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari, hails from Katsina State (North-West) and was first elected as president in 2015, when he defeated an incumbent – Goodluck Jonathan. He was re-elected in the last presidential election and having been sworn-in as president for two times, he is expected to bow out on May 29, 2023 after serving out the constitutionally allowed two terms of eight years.
But, more than three years ahead of the poll that will see the emergence of Buhari’s successor, Nigeria’s political landscape is already agog with permutations for the 2023 general election as to which zone will produce the next president.
Some zones and even names are being touted at the moment, but the belief in most quarters is that power should shift to the South in 2023 given the zoning deal between the country’s two political divides – North and South.
The arrangement took effect with the country’s return to civil rule in 1999 and has guided successive presidents, but recent developments in the polity points to the fact that the battle for the 2023 presidency might pitch the North and South as each of the two regions is not ready to let go.
While opinions seem to be divided among northerners on the approach to the 2023 presidency project – another four years in power (2023-2027) to catch-up with the South almost 14 years in power or jettisoning of zoning, which offers the region advantage to retain power given its voting strength, most members of the political class in the South are of the view that the North’s retention of power after Buhari might spell doom for the country.
Those who hold this belief, particular made a case for the South-East, which is yet to occupy the country’s number one position since 1999.
No doubt, the South-East has a strong case and many analysts and even political leaders, especially those of southern extraction have dismissed the plot by the North, but discerning political minds are of the view that it would be wishful thinking that the North will relinquish power without a fight.
For the likes of Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai; Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed and even pan Northern group, Arewa Consultative Forum, their region (North) should retain power after Buhari.
However, southern political leaders such as former governor of Abia State and Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Kalu; Secretary General of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide, as well as apex Igbo body, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, insists on no going back to power shift to the South in 2023.
But, Second Republic governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, who sounded a note of warning, said Nigerians will suffer if zoning is jettisoned.
He told New Telegraph in an interview that it was in the interest of the country to adhere to the zoning arrangement between the North and South.
His words: “It is dangerous, but it would not break Nigeria. But, I can tell you that it will make every part of Nigeria to suffer. We are suffering under the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari that are northern based, but the suffering will be worse if we jettison zoning.”
Further warning on the dangers of North perpetuating itself in power, Musa advised politicians against playing with the level of economic, political as well as social and religious integration the nation has achieved.