Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, on Sunday rekindled the controversy over the rotational presidency with a declaration that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has no zoning arrangement.
His view is contrary to those of Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasiru el-Rufai, and Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), that the 2023 presidency be zoned to the South after the expiration of the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari, in compliance with the understanding reached by the party’s leaders during the merger talks before 2015 general election.
El-Rufai had said there was an agreement that the presidency should be zoned to the South after the eight-year rule of the North, stressing that although the agreement was not enshrined in the party’s constitution, politicians are aware of it.
“That is why I came out and said that after President Buhari’s eight years, no Northerner should contest for the office. Let the Southerners also have eight years,’’ he had stated.
Fashola too had urged the APC to respect its zoning formula in picking its presidential candidate for 2023 election.
“The truth is that what makes an agreement spectacular is the honour in which it is made, not whether it is written. If it was written, there would be no court cases of breach of contract because it’s a document that is written and signed that goes to court.
“The private agreement you make with your brother and sister should not be breached. It must be honoured,” Fashola had said.
He acknowledged that zoning is not in the party’s constitution, insisting that the party leaders had an agreement on zoning when the party was being formed.
But speaking with journalists in Abuja weekend, Bello, who is nursing a presidential ambition, said there is no zoning arrangement in the APC.
‘’There is nothing like zoning in our party. In 2015, there was no zoning; many aspirants, including former governor Rochas Okorocha contested. In 2019, there was no zoning; people in APC were not courageous enough to contest with President Muhammadu Buhari,” Bello stated.
He added that the challenges facing the country has nothing to do with where the president comes from, as Nigerians are looking for young, vibrant, and responsible leaders, who can tackle the challenges.
Asked if he is interested in the office, the governor said: ‘’Even if I say I’m going to contest for presidency in 2023, my response is this: It is the will of God I became governor today, and I am in my second term going. If it’s the will of God for me to become president in this country at the right time, I will be.’’
The governor is optimistic he will defeat any challenger if he decides to contest.
‘’I will record a vote that has never been recorded in Nigeria by the grace of God. But that’s not the issue right now; the issue is there must be Nigeria before we talk of 2023,’’ he added.
According to him, Nigeria’s problems, including insecurity, can be solved as there are enough resources to tackle them.
‘’Nobody factor in tomorrow for our children yet-unborn; sometimes there will be burning issues at hand, they call for meetings, you sit down and they are not discussing the main issue that brought us together.
‘’And before the meeting there is communiqué; after the meeting, it’s the communiqué that is read and it has nothing to do with the issue at hand. How can we progress?
‘’This is what we have today as a country. A situation where Mr. President will give approval for things to be done and that approval is kept aside, and there will be no consequences for that. That’s what we have today as a country,’’ he lamented.
He advised his colleagues to take the insecurity in the country seriously, saying they must talk about Nigeria first before the 2023 general election.
Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja