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Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State has said that it is not a must that the next president of Nigeria must emerge from the Southern region of the country.
The governor, who reiterated his support for power to shift to the southern part of the country, cautioned his colleagues that politics is a game of numbers.
The governor said this during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday.
On Monday, the governors had declared support for the rotational presidency, saying the next president should come from the South.
Zulum clarified that the Southern governors were not wrong to call for a power shift to their region, adding that would promote unity.
He said, “I have said it times without number that I, Professor Babagana Zulum, I am of the view that the presidency should go to the south in the year 2023 because the unity of our country is very important.
“Secondly, inclusivity is very important. Thirdly, I am in the APC. Six or seven years ago, APC had zoned the presidency to northern Nigeria based on the agreement that in the year 2023, the presidency should go to the south.
“But again, this is politics. We are supposed to meet and discuss this issue among ourselves, among the political class.
“This statement that people are saying that the president must go to the south, I want them to remove the word must.”
Zulum comments comes hours after the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) rejected the position of the Southern governors that the 2023 presidency should be zoned to the Southern part of the country.
The Forum maintained that the region should not be compelled to accede for a democratically elected office that can be sought by any person irrespective of where he comes from.
The position of NEF was coming barely 24 hours after the Southern governors insist the south must produce the next president in 2023.
The Forum’s position was made in a statement by its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed.
NEF observed that as far as the North was concerned, the idea that it would be threatened, intimidated or blackmailed into yielding an office that ought to be settled democratically is not acceptable.
Thus the NEF sees the decision of the southern governors as an expression of sentiment that could be best discussed within a political process.
“We are running a democratic government and decisions over where the next president comes from are basically decisions that will be made by voters exercising their rights to choose which candidate best serves their interest.”
The forum explained that the southern governors come from the two dominant parties: APC and PDP, saying that they must have some influence in those parties.
He noted that the way it should be done was that the southern governors should influence their parties to zone the presidency to southern states and then work to convince Nigerian voters from all parts of the country to vote for that candidate.
He opined that the democratic rights of Nigerian citizens to vote for a candidate cannot be snatched by threats or intimidation, stressing that politicians were becoming very lazy to think they will be given leadership in a manner that suggests an ultimatum.