2023: Why zoning may not work in APC – Ganduje

Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has said it may be impossible for the All Progressives Congress (APC) to adopt any zoning arrangement for the 2023 presidential election. 

He said although he was not in the best position to decide for the ruling party, the zoning arrangement for the 2023 presidential election was still in the realm of “realism and idealism.”

Ganduje also said the Ruga policy should not be a national issue, arguing that imposing it on Nigerians would be tantamount to building a nightclub near a church or mosque.

He stated this in Abuja in a chat with newsmen to mark his 100 days in office.

“About the zoning issue, which was triggered by the governor of Kaduna State, it is an issue between realism and idealism. Idealism is a situation whereby things should be according to ideal, and, if things are according to ideal, then everybody has equal opportunity, equal chance to contest and then whatever the people decide would triumph. That is idealism.

“Now, the issue of realism, Nigeria is multi-tribal and that is why we have geopolitical zones, that is why we have, even during the colonial time, North and South, but now we have states and geopolitical zones. So, in reality, people are yearning for participation from different geopolitical zones: North and South. That is still in our mind.

“The reality of the situation is that people are clamouring (over) marginalisation in the leadership of the country but the idealism is that people should participate and be elected based on their capacity and capability.

“So, it is not the governor of Kano State that would decide whether it would be idealism or realism. It is the party that would determine which theory (ism) should be applied in Nigeria. Politics is a game of numbers. So,  the political party should decide which one to follow,” he said.

Speaking on the proposed Ruga settlement scheme and herdsmen’s menace, the governor said: “Pertaining to herdsmen/farmers’ crisis, which we succeeded in curtailing. We are going to contract farm settlements so that the herdsmen will no longer travel from one place and another.”

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However, former senator representing Kaduna Central in the eighth Assembly, Mallam Shehu Sani, has said rotational presidency indispensable for the unity of Nigeria. He specifically made a case for Igbo presidency in 2023.

The human rights activist-turned-lawmaker stated this in Kaduna when he hosted some Igbo leaders who had long resided and worked in northern Nigeria, especially, Kaduna State.

To Sani, the Igbo in Nigeria have made tremendous sacrifices for the unity, peace and progress of the country and have made the country proud in a number of respects, from Chinua Achebe of yesterday to Chima Amanda of today. According to him, in the field of commerce and industry, the Igbo were in the forefront, leading Nigeria to where it ought to be.

“Since our independence to this very moment, there is no any national or international sporting event (where) there is no Igbo sacrificing themselves, struggling hard, wearing the national flag with respect and bringing laurels and trophies to our country.

“Igbo have, in the last 50 years, demonstrated that they are true Nigerians. If you read Igbo from the point of those who want to break away, then you will make a different judgement. But, when you read Igbo from the ones you see in your homes, villages and towns in the North and in all parts of Nigeria, then your views and positions about them would be quite different.

“They have, over the years, proven to be reliable national species of Nigerians. The best way to appreciate the Igbo, I believe, is to appreciate that glory, which they have brought to our country and the nationalistic spirit in them.

“We are from the North and we were born here. But we have also seen Igbo that we were born together here in the North.

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“If there is anyone who spoke for Igbo in the North, if there is anyone who stood for Igbo in the North, I believe it was Wada Nas of blessed memory. Wada Nas, a decade and a half ago, was speaking out for Igbo. What he said in the past is still relevant today as it was then.

“Each time the Igbo are marginalised, the nation is empowering those who want to break away. Where my house is today is the same ward where the house of the late Sardauna of Sokoto was.

“So, my own position is that any government that is worth being in office should treat each and every Nigerian with dignity, honour, and give everyone a sense of belonging, with equity and justice.

“But we must be very sincere with ourselves, if we can call a spade a spade. The whole of Nigeria should have a new thinking and perception of the Igbo of today.

“It is unfair to hold Igbo children to ransom or hostage to historical events of which there was no common unanimity of Igbo. Some of the greatest Igbo we have in history were born in the North, including the late Nnamdi Azikiwe, even the Ikemba of Nnewi. So, the Nigerian state should not treat Igbo like in apartheid, where one nationality is superior to another.

“Those who felt that one part of the country should continue to produce the President till thy kingdom come are not conscious of the fact that there were warnings in our history, which we must not forget and we should take lessons from.

“There is no village or town in the North, no matter how remote it is, (where) we don’t see an Igbo man. If they did not believe in Nigeria, they wouldn’t have been here for generations to stay,” he said.

Meanwhile, as part of the solution to the challenges facing the contentious Ruga policy, Ganduje promised to build farm settlements to curtail the movement of herdsmen from the north to the south of the country.

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He further disclosed that his administration would equip the settlement with state-of-the-art facilities and social amenities, to enable the herders enjoy what Nigerians in other parts of the country enjoy.

“We have a technical committee, which involves herdsmen themselves. We have five big forests, which we are converting to be grazing reserves, including Falgore forest. We already have the technical committee working. We have already awarded contract for water, which is being provided as we construct some tanks in some places.

“We will provide social amenities like hospital, veterinary clinic, market, security post and school so that herdsmen will enjoy facilities just like other Nigerians.

“Ruga should not be a national issue, it should be a state issue. If there are Fulani in the South and they want to remain there, the Constitution has allowed them to remain there but they should negotiate their stay with the host communities without harming anybody. If you live in a place, you must not harm the environment and the environment must not harm you and that could only exist when you negotiate. You cannot build a nightclub near a church or near a mosque. That will not guarantee peace.

“In those days, herders-farmers’ relationship was symbiotic. While the cow dung provided manure for the land, the herdsmen get grazing areas. But because of climate change and population expansion, the land became scarce. You can remain wherever you are but you must negotiate your stay,” he said.

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