As Nigerian politicians strategise over the next general elections, leaders of the South-South geo-political zone seem to be divided over which zone should produce President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor come 2023.
The NEXT EDITION investigations at the weekend revealed that while some South-South leaders are rooting for South-East presidency, to balance the political injustice against the region 50 years after the Nigerian civil war of 1967-70, others want South-South region to complete the remaining four years, which ex-President Goodluck Jonathan started, but could not complete the second term following his defeat in 2015 election by the incumbent President Buhari.
Baring his mind in an exclusive interview, former President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Professor Kimse Okoko, said for equity, justice and fair play, the South-East should be allowed to produce the next President.
“Nigeria must concede the presidency to the South-East in 2023. This is when we can talk about fairness, equity and justice. We cannot continue to be lopsided in this regard and say that we as a country are united. The unity of Nigeria must start with conceding the presidency to the South-East in 2023,” Okoko said.
Okoko called on the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu, to forget the idea of seeking for the plum position, until the Igbos have had a shot, adding that for justice to reign, South-East should be allowed to take the next slot.
The National Coordinator, Conference of Ethnic Nationality of the Niger Delta (CENND), called on the Federal Government to entrench the principle of true federalism to take care of such injustice that had pervaded the nation’s political system.
“We need true federalism in this country. If we have true federalism, this inequality and imbalance in sharing of power will not exist. My concern is that in 2023, the Igbos should be given the opportunity of producing the next president of this country.”
Okoko’s view was, however, counterd by Convener of the South-South Elders Forum (SSEF), Mr. Anabs Sara-Igbe, who insisted that it was constitutionally right for the South-South to complete its full eight-year tenure, which was started by Jonathan.
“Constitutionally, the Niger Delta region was supposed to produce the president for two terms, but Jonathan did two and a half years.
“So, we are saying that if the principle of zoning is applied, after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure, power should shift to the South and we should be allowed to complete our term before it goes to other parts.”
Sara-Igbe, in an interview with The NEXT EDITION, urged South-West not to cause any confusion by agitating for the presidency in 2023 after Buhari’s tenure, saying that former President Olusegun Obasanjo completed eight years, while the current Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, would have been there for eight years by 2023.
According to him, “the South-East is not prepared for presidency. What is occupying their mind is to achieve Biafra. In that case, the South-East should be given that opportunity to produce the next Nigeria’s President in 2023.”